Free trade opponents meet in Cuba

Alisa Roth Apr 9, 2008


Renita Jablonski: If you’re a true public radio junkie, you’ve heard the words “free trade” a lot lately. Congress is considering an open-trade deal with Colombia. The U.S. already has similar pacts with seven countries in Latin America. Today free-trade opponents from across the region gather in Havana, Cuba, to talk about their feelings on those deals. Alisa Roth has more.

Lisa Roth: More than 500 activists and representatives of trade unions are in Havana for the next two days. They’re talking about how to distance themselves from the U.S. economy for fear Latin American countries could get sucked into its economic problems.

Mark Weisbrot is with the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He says there’s more and more opposition to free trade agreements in Latin America, because those countries have mostly been on the losing end of the deal.

Mark Weisbrot: The U.S. economy has provided a growing market for imports and it’s no longer doing that. The U.S. economy is now shrinking and imports will shrink.

Weisbrot says Latin Americans are worried about their own futures.

Weisbrot: Some of them may actually go into a recession themselves.

The activists say free trade agreements leave Latin Americans with cheap North American imports and not much market for their exports.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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