Written Testimony Regarding the Central American Free Trade Agreement
Date of publication: November 30, 2004
The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) is deeply concerned about ongoing labor rights violations in Central America. The current, neo-liberal economic model forces developing countries to compete against one another to attract new investment by offering low wages and foregoing enforcement of labor and environmental laws. Indeed, such competition is the greatest barrier to the enforcement of labor laws, as countries legitimately fear that multinationals will move to the country offering the greatest freedom to operate with impunity from national law. To solve this difficult problem, CAFTA must include a clause that would incorporate substantive labor standards and an enforcement mechanism that encourages local enforcement, but provides remedies in the event of systematic noncompliance. As we have learned from past experience, unless CAFTA includes such mechanisms, current violations of core labor standards, as described below, will continue unabated.
As you will see from the following country profiles, not one country even closely complies with internationally recognized worker rights. To overcome this complex problem, we have set forth a list of considerations that must be addressed directly and seriously during the