Promoting Fair Trade and Sustainable Development
While peace agreements ended devastating armed conflicts in Central America, economic globalization has further marginalized the poor majorities of Latin America. International trade rules being written today will have far-reaching and harmful effects, widening the gap still more between rich and poor of the hemisphere.
Labor Rights, Environment, and Family Farm Livelihoods Imperiled
Globalization's adverse impact on Latin America is normally not covered in the mainstream media, limiting public awareness. In response to the urgent calls from human rights, religious, peasant, and labor organizations in Latin America, CRLN opposed unjust free trade agreements like Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and the Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). These agreements have been negotiated in secret without citizen input or participation. They subordinate labor rights, environmental protection, and family farmer livelihoods to guarantee multinational corporate profits.
Building Fair Trade with Latin American Partners
CRLN organized citizens from Illinois to join teach-ins and protests in Miami against the FTAA in November 2003. Throughout 2004, CRLN launched a grassroots "message-a-month" campaign to educate Congress about CAFTA concerns. CRLN hosted a Ms. Lori Wallach, a trade attorney and director of Global Trade Watch, for a luncheon seminar with 150 local clergy and lay leaders to learn about CAFTA provisions. CRLN organized meetings with members of Congress who were undecided or leaning in favor of such trade agreements, including two personal meetings with U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel in 2004. In place of these unfair trade treaties, CRLN promotes fair trade benchmark's for agreements endorsed by the National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), World Relief, Catholic Relief Services, and dozens of human rights and labor organizations that will assure participation, transparency, and enforceable labor and environmental standards. With its campaign for "100 Fair Trade Congregations", CRLN seeks to strengthen the international movement for fair trade standards.