After NAFTA was proven a failure, the Bush administration decided to negotiate one last free trade agreement in an attempt to open up markets for corporate expansion into the countries of Latin America. The negotiations began in November of 2003 with the name Free Trade for the Americas. The interested parties included The United States, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia. And, acting as just an observer, Bolivia was expected to join in on the negotiations,
AFTA is based on the failed model of NAFTA with some provisions. Therefore, AFTA is designed to import United States produced agribusiness food to the Andean countries which is the opposite of trying to promote a strong effort to promote alternative food crops in that area. Like CAFTA, the Andean Free Trade Agreement would extend patents on drugs making generic drug accessible to thousands of people with AIDS, HIV, or other life threatening diseases.
In December, 20005, a deal was reached between the United States and Peru that is likely to end up as the framework for AFTA trade agreements. In case, negotiations between the United States Ecuador, and Columbia fail the Peru text will be edited down to a bilateral agreement between the two countries. Based on the failed CAFTA and NAFTA models, the United States and Peru agreement will allow corporations to use international trade tribunals for attacking the United States sovereignty and cost the country more jobs and make more farmers bankrupt, the people of Peru don't like this agreement. The National Electoral Council of Peru certified some 60,000 signatures that were submitted by the anti-AFTA coalition. Currently, the Peruvian Congress must decide if the Andean Free Trade Agreement will be submitted for the referendum vote.
Even more alarming is the Bush administration's nerve to negotiate an international free trade agreement with Columbia because this is the country that is currently violating human rights even though Columbia is a human rights leader and is violating international human rights laws. These talks are believed to belie disrespect for human rights and labor. In Columbia, about 2,000 trade unionists have been killed in the last ten years and that makes Columbia the most dangerous country for unionists. In Ecuador, massive violations of labor rights have been documented by The Human Rights Watch.
As AFTA is modeled from the United States and Central American trade pact that provided services provisions that promote deregulation and privatization of fundamental public services, the lack of the right labor provisions in The Andean Free Trade Agreement comes as no surprise to any person. In the past there was a strong resistance to privatization in the Americas with the result being harsh repression and depression. The Andean agreement is also said to remove tariff barriers on imported agricultural products therefore, allowing U.S. corn and other grains to flood the local markets. The plan to reduce import tariffs on agricultural products is opposed by The Agricultural and Commodities Front of Peru that unites all fifteen associates of the small scale farmers. Many local people believe that The Free Trade Agreement will destroy traditional agriculture in the country and push millions of farmer deeper into poverty.