New from the Americas Policy Program

Dissecting the North American Summit Joint Statement: Bush’s Last Stand
By Laura Carlsen

On April 22, Presidents George W. Bush, Felipe Calderon, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded a trilateral summit in New Orleans. Check out the analysis "between the lines" that reveals what they are really talking about.

The summit marked the fourth meeting of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which has drawn fire in all three countries since its proceedings are not open to public participation or congressional oversight and working groups are made up only of government and large business representatives. The leaders’ Joint Statement and press conference targeted the U.S. electoral process by responding directly to Democrats’ recent criticisms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the proposed Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The three leaders reiterated their unconditional support for NAFTA and the SPP, urged passage of the Colombia FTA, and argued for passage of the Plan Mexico aid package.

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(@) is director of the Americas Policy Program in Mexico City (, our Mexico Blog is available at

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Haitian Food Riots Unnerving But Not Surprising
By Mark Schuller

Beginning early April, Haiti was gripped by a nation-wide mobilization to protest high food prices, reaching a crescendo on Thursday the 10th, as thousands of people took to the streets. Clashes with police and UN troops resulted in an official count of five dead.

The media covered these events during the days of the crisis but offered little information to explain the protests. As awful as the loss of life, property damage, and the resulting climate of fear are, the "rioters" in the street are only the most visible manifestation of a crisis with deep roots. Both the Haitian government and the international community played important roles in creating the current crisis.

These so-called "food riots" are really the first flares shot up to signal the need for significant changes to the economic model. What is to be done? First, take heed. Second, take action. Long-term solutions will have to address both our dependence on oil and the inequalities in distribution within the world system.

Mark Schuller teaches anthropology at Vassar College and SUNY-New Paltz. For a fuller analysis readers can consult Schuller’s chapter in a recently-published book, Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Neoliberal Strategies in Disaster Reconstruction, He is a collaborator with the CIP Americas Policy Program at

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The Real Crisis of Argentina’s Agricultural Sector
By Carlos A. Vicente

In March the Argentine government established an increase in retentions on soy exports, raising the figure from 33% to 44% and applying a series of adjustable retentions that vary according to the international price of soy.

The reaction has been misinterpreted by most of the media. It is time that we listen to those who have always fed our people and who will continue doing so in the future in spite of the "farm business" and the pompous speeches from the people "of the farms." Agro multinationals that have benefited from the soy boom are robbing the Argentine people of their natural resources.

Carlos A. Vicente is head of information for Latin America at GRAIN ( and a contributor to CIP’s Americas Policy Program (

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Biotech Bets on Agrofuels
By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

There is a new participant in the international deliberations on global warming and agrofuels: the biotechnology industry. The corporate giants of the genetics industry propose new technologies, including genetically modified trees, second generation cellulosic ethanol, and synthetic biology, to wean society off fossil fuels and fight climate change.

The implications for Latin America are breathtaking. The biotechnology industry’s massive move into the energy sector brings together major social and ecological issues in the region, such as agrofuel promotion, genetically modified (GM) crops, and the growth of agribusiness monocultures. Latin American civil society’s aspirations of land reform, environmental protection, alternatives to neoliberalism, and food and energy sovereignty, are at stake.

Carmelo Ruiz Marrero is a Puerto Rican independent environmental journalist and environmental analyst for the Americas Policy Program (, a fellow of the Oakland Institute and a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and founder/director of the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety ( His bilingual web page ( is devoted to global environment and development issues.

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Time to Renegotiate NAFTA, Not Expand It
By Representative Marcy Kaptur (United States), Senator Yeidckol Polevnsky (Mexico), and Peter Julian, Member of Canadian Parliament

When President Bush meets his counterparts Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Stephen Harper of Canada in New Orleans this week for the fourth summit of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), NAFTA itself will not be on the agenda. Nevertheless, the reinvigorated debate over that landmark trade and investment deal in our three countries—which became highly visible during the recent dust up between Prime Minister Harper’s office and both U.S. Democratic presidential candidates—ensures that it will be an elephant in the room.

Rather than attempting to handcuff the new administration and the people of our three countries to NAFTA-plus, it is time to chart a fair trade future for North America that fosters democratic governance, growing economies, rising standards of living for all, and puts the interests of working people and the environment over those of global corporations.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur represents Ohio’s 9th District and is the sponsor of a recently introduced congressional resolution calling for NAFTA’s renegotiation. Yeidckol Polevnsky Gurwitz is the vice president of the Mexican Senate and former president of Canacintra, Latin America’s largest chamber of commerce. Peter Julian represents Burnaby-New Westminster, British Columbia in the Canadian Parliament and is a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade. Together the three are leading a tri-national legislative task force that seeks the renegotiation of NAFTA.

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