Originally created 11/22/04

Read fine print on free trade



Numerous provisions in the so-called free trade agreements are chipping away at our nation's sovereignty.

The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1993, for example, contained a little-known provision mandating that, by the year 2000, our nation's southern border must be opened to all trucks entering from Mexico. Once this provision was discovered, trucking union officials and environmentalists lodged a formal complaint about it, and a federal appeals court ordered that a study be conducted to address legitimate concerns about safety and air pollution.

But last June, the U.S. Supreme Court, backed by the Bush administration, ordered the opening of all roads to Mexico's trucks. In effect, the ruling and the attitude of the Bush administration held that the provisions of NAFTA superseded a decision of our nation's courts.

The flood of trucks now expected to cross the border means that there is no way U.S. inspectors can possibly check the cargoes in all of these vehicles. We are left with questions about what those cargoes might contain. Illegal immigrants? Weapons? Terrorists? Drugs? U.S. border officials no longer have the capability of guaranteeing that vehicles entering our nation are free of dangerous contraband.

NAFTA has produced many harmful consequences, but the bottom line is that it isn't mainly about trade, or even about borders. And the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas threatens consequences even more harmful than what has been produced by the 1993 NAFTA pact. Members of Congress must say no to the FTAA when it comes before them in 2005.

Glenda Windham

Wagener, S.C.