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The Head of the Culture and Development Research Center of the Costa Rican Distance Learning State University, Luis Paulino Vargas, compared the Pacific Alliance (which the Costa Rican government is considering joining) with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiated between Central America and the US.
The Pacific Alliance (made up by Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) aims to allow the free flow of capital, goods and services, said Vargas.
In an interview conducted by our colleague Oriana Ortiz, of COECOCEIBA Friends of the Earth Costa Rica, the academic added that the Pacific Alliance aims to ensure favorable conditions for capital investment, an "armor" to protect these investments so that they can move freely or with the least possible restrictions on issues such as environmental protection and labor rights, for instance.
In the interview held on May 4, during a demonstration in San Jose, Costa Rican capital city, where several sectors rejected the potential joining of the country to the Pacific Alliance, Vargas warned that this agreement makes it impossible to apply "positive discrimination" to protect national companies from certain sectors. This prevents favorable and equal development, since it forces to treat small national companies and foreign companies in the same way, so according to him, Costa Rica would "lose", because it won´t be able to defend its companies and economic/social priorities.
Also, Vargas highlighted the antidemocratic nature of the Pacific Alliance agreement. These are agreements negotiated under secrecy, "with no possibilities for citizen control". He also said that the government is meeting with several sectors, but this is nothing more than a "front", since national negotiators will ultimately take "what´s good for them".
Along these lines, Vargas said that parliaments of other countries receive a package that they can only "take or leave". Parliament passes it or not; it is not possible to discuss or modify anything, he explained. For citizens, the agreement is a "finalized, armored package". "Democracy is weakened" said the Head of the Culture and Development Research Center.
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