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Costa Rica votes, holds Referendum on CAFTA (TLC)

October 7, 2007

Update, the “Si” position appears to have won the valid referendum. See bottom of article for numbers.

Politics isn’t my thing, usually it’s just numbers. In this case, they’re perfectly intertwined. Considering my wonderful Tica wife is voting on the future of her beautiful country today, I’d say we have a match.

Her sister is back in CR for a week from New Jersey. In fact, thousands of Ticos are flocking back to Costa Rica today. They’ve been doing it all week. They’re coming back in droves to drop a peice of paper into a box. What an incredibly fierce democracy. Here’s insight about the great democracy in Costa Rica.

TLC Si o No

TLC, Si o No ?

CAFTA, or the Central American Free Trade Agreement, has been on the books now for years. All the Central American countries’ representatives have signed with the United States – save one. Costa Rica is the ONLY country to have a referendum on the subject. Imagine that. A true democracy. How wonderful.

First off, the power granting the United States to offer such an agreement to the Central American nations was granted by a very narrow margin, mostly due to worries about domestic operations suffering at the hands of inexpensive labour and higher quality products emerging from the Central Americas.

On July 27th of 2005, the United States House of Representatives approved the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA in a 217-215 vote.

The text of the massive 400 page agreement can be found at the Trade Compliance Centre on the U.S. government’s web site.

It covers many major topics:

  • Investment
  • Cross-Border Trade in Services
  • Financial Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Electronic Commerce
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Labor
  • Environment

For Costa Rica, the most important issues appear to be Agriculture, Fisheries, and Natural Resources.

Here is a link to the Costa Rica specific Annex.

A minimum of 40 percent of Costa Rica’s 2.6 million voters must participate for Sunday’s vote to be valid.

Local media appears to be extremely biased towards the Yes position, which is understandable considering the latest controversy surrounding US involvement in buying up advertising space, probably at exorbitantly inflated rates, to present the “Si al TLC” position. “The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCHAM), has invested the astronomical sum of $700,000 into [Costa Rica] to promote the Free Trade Agreement between Costa Rica and the US.”

The proof is in the pudding. Today’s Washington Post article delicately phrases “Costa Rica Urged to OK US Trade Deal“. In a last ditch attempt to scare up a YES vote, the U.S. is telling Ticos “there will be no renegotiating if the vote is no.” Whatever, I’m pretty sure this administration is almost done, and hey.

Ticos! You’ve got a CANADA / COSTA RICA free trade agreement right now! Let’s step up trade between our two countries! Whatever you need, we can get you.
Big business wants TLC, the common people are divided on the issue.

To the Costa Rican people, whatever your position on the issue, I wish you all good luck and a fair and transparent referendum. Canada will be watching.

¡Pura Vida!

2 Flags

Update, 11PM EDT – In figures released by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones about 8:30 p.m. local time Sunday, the yes vote was 51.7 percent, some 606,985 votes, compared to 48.3 percent of 567,635 for rejection of the treaty.

The tribunal said that the votes represented 73.6 percent of the polling places and that it appeared that 69.8 percent of the electorate, some 1,193,339 persons, voted, enough to make the referendum valid. Some 40 percent was needed.

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