The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) has been debated on various blogs and websites, and completely ignored by the media. Now that CAFTA has passed — by a margin of two votes in the House — the mainstream “media” have pulled off their blinders and earplugs and started reporting on it.
I posted on July 11th about the massive giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry that was buried in the fine print of the CAFTA agreement. The pharmaceutical companies — working hand in glove with international law and the World Trade Organization — will now be able to start banning herbal remedies and vitamin supplements. Eventually most of them will either be banned completely or be available only through a prescription.
There was never a peep out of the “media” about any of this. Apparently Katie Holmes and the missing-girl-of-the-week were too important to waste coverage on any real news that might actually affect all of us.
And now another CAFTA surprise: Harken Energy has been saying all along that if CAFTA passes, they’ll be able to sue the government of Costa Rica for $58 billion. This amount is almost twice as much as Costa Rica’s Gross National Product. This is the amount of money Harken says they’ve “lost” from not being able to drill for oil in a Costa Rican marine sanctuary.
This kind of lawsuit — corporations suing governments — will become much more common under CAFTA. What happened to all those rightwingers who are always blubbering about too many lawsuits, too much litigation? They’ve all gone strangely silent for some reason.
Like the saying goes, laws and sausages are the two things you shouldn’t watch being made, and our sleazy lowlifes in Congress have sure reinforced this. The CAFTA vote was taken in the middle of the night, and Republican “leaders” held up the vote for more than an hour. This gave them enough time for browbeating, arm-twisting and extorting the “correct” vote out of just barely enough
Interesting side note: George W. Bush was on the Board of Directors of Harken Energy during the late 1980s. He was suspected of being involved in some insider trading scandals with Harken. During the summer of 2002, reports of this scandal were starting to surface; these reports were getting lots of embarrassing press coverage. And then, with some convenient timing, Bush and Cheney started getting hysterical about Iraq‘s Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Harken fell off the front pages. Coincidence?