Tribuna Democrática (Costa Rica): Black-Box Negotiations Were a Raid on Trade

The image “https://i1.wp.com/i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/casasmemo.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Casas-Sánchez memo to Arias: “Some urgent actions needed to reanimate the Yes on CAFTA campaign. First and foremost: A media blitz based on “fear, uncertainty and doubt.” Kevin Casas is under investigation for illegal use of public funds to benefit the “Yes” campaign, and lost his post over it. See
Costa Rica: “FUD Mud Slung at Schwab Job”

Suddenly the U.S. Secretary of Foreign Trade [sic] will have equal standing with congressional deliberations in drafting the bill. As during the times of Mr. Chatfield, Her Majesty’s chargé d’affaires, who wanted to impose a sort of British protectorate on this little corner of the world.

The Tribuna Democrática (Costa Rica) on the CAFTA referendum there, the upcoming battle to pass the enabling legislation, and the prospects of a parallel deal with the European Union.

“Of sand and quickline.”

I am quickly scanning the folklore and lingo forums and I gather that this is a metaphor that comes from brick-making.

If you mix a strong ingredient with a substandard one, the resulting brick is not going to be much good. Something like that.

La encarnizada polémica en torno al Tratado de Libre Comercio con Estados Unidos destapó los vicios de un proceso de negociación caracterizado por el secretismo y la ausencia de mecanismos eficaces para tomar el pulso a la sociedad civil a la hora de elaborar las posiciones del país. Tanto como que –infidencias del mismo Presidente de Costa Rica de entonces– ni siquiera a él se le consultó la última posición adoptada por los negociadores en temas cruciales como el de las telecomunicaciones y los seguros.

The heated dispute over the free trade agreement with the United States has uncovered the vices of a negotiation process characterized by secrecy and the lack of efficient mechanisms for taking the pulse of civil society when it comes time to elaborate Costa Rica’s positions in these negotiations. So much so that — the Costa Rican president at the time was not trusted on this question — not even he was consulted on the latest position adopted by negotiators on crucial topics such as telecommunications and insurance.

El cacareado “cuarto adjunto” sólo sirvió para llenar una formalidad protocolaria y simular vocación por la transparencia. Para escarnio de muchos de los que desfilaron por ahí, se les oyó pero no se les escuchó. Aún resuenan las airadas quejas de sectores afectados por el TLC porque a la hora de la hora, al Tratado se le incorporaba lo que la burocracia decidía. Y si no, véase en qué pararon las objeciones de los sectores de lácteos y carne de porcino.

The vaunted “Annex Four” was nothing more than a bureaucratic formality designed to simulate a commitment to transparency. To the great dissatisfaction of those paraded through the process, they found themselves being heard but not listened to. The angry complaints of sectors affected by the FTA can still be heard, however, because from one hour to the next, the Treaty incorporated terms that the bureaucracy dictated. Don’t believe me? Just look at what results the complaints of the milk and pork producers yielded.

De modo que la experiencia del proceso de negociación del TLC enseña lo nefasto que sería repetir los vicios en el caso del Acuerdo de Asociación con la Unión Europea. Es de temer que así suceda, vista la prominencia que se les ha cedido a los mismos que se habituaron a trabajar dentro de una cripta y la arrogancia con que algunos jerarcas de ciertos gremios empresariales apuran la marcha, como si se tratase de un tema para buhoneros y como si la controversia en torno al CAFTA no hubiese sido atizada en buena medida por el secretismo, el misterio, la apropiación indebida del destino nacional.

The experience of negotiating the FTA with the United States, therefore, shows us how disastrous it would be to perpetuate these vices in the case of the commercial accord with the European Union. There is reason to fear, given the prominent role played by people who have gotten used to working in a black box, and the arrogance of some business association leadership, that they will rush the process along, as if it were a deal among clandestine street vendors, and as though the controversy over CAFTA had not been characterized in great part by secrecy, mystery, and the misappropriation of the nation’s future.

Hay instancias de participación de la sociedad civil (así se les denomina) que levantan la mano y piden aportar en las negociaciones con la U.E. Se apegan al Protocolo de Tegucigalpa que creó el Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA) y que así lo dispone. Pero desde el gabinete alguien subestimó su representatividad. ¿Anticipo de la suerte de sus reclamos?

There are examples of participation by (self-styled) civil society in the process, who have raised their hands and asked to have a voice in the EU negotiations. They stick to the terms of the Tegucigalpa Protocol that created the ICC [Central American Integration plan] and want to keep things that way. But the government has not granted them much representation. Is this a preview of how their demands will prosper?

Algo así parece que le espera a los “Auxiliares de la Función Pública Aduanera” quienes dieron a conocer sus observaciones, críticas y sugerencias al expediente de la Unión Aduanera en razón de que lo planteado conduce a todo menos a la Unión Aduanera de Centroamérica, y piden –sin que se les de pelota– que se involucre a la sociedad civil. ¿Verá la Unión Europea estas cosas compatibles con el espíritu de participación de la sociedad civil en todo lo que atañe al Acuerdo de Asociación con el istmo?

A similar fate awaits the Customs union, who made their observations, criticisms and suggestions known to the Customs administration, noting that the proposals undermine the project for regional integration of customs, and they ask — but no one pays them any heed — that civil society be included in the process. Will the EU see such developments as reflecting the spirit of participatory democracy in its negotiations of its own trade deal with the Isthmus?

Y como para engrosar el estuche de las monerías de la política contemporánea, esta joya: el diputado jefe de la fracción del Movimiento Libertario solicitó el parecer del gobierno de Estados Unidos sobre un proyecto de ley que resume las principales normas de la legislación de implementación del TLC. Semejante expresión de malinchismo que no es sino una afrenta a la potestad soberana del Congreso, sólo se vio en los tiempos de los Contratos-Ley. De repente el Secretario de Comercio Exterior de los Estados Unidos equiparará la consulta a un encargo para que redacte el proyecto de ley. Como en los tiempos de Mr. Chatfield, Encargado de Negocios de Su Majestad, que quería imponer una especie de protectorado británico en este rincón.

And add this gem to the stockpile of absurdities from the contemporary political scene: The leader of the Libertarian Movement in Congress has asked the U.S. government for its opinion on an omnibus measure that would contain all the provisions required to implement the FTA. Such [kowtowing to a foreign power] is an affront to the sovereign power of Costa Rica’s legislature such as has not been seen since the times of the Contract-Laws.

La parola malinchismo è un termine popolare messicano che si usa per descrivere un condotta verso lo straniero.

“Contract-Laws” granted monopolies to the likes of Alcoa and your standard One Hundred Years of Solitude fruit cartels in, I think it was, the 1970s. I have to research that more, though, so don’t quote me.

Suddenly the U.S. Secretary of Foreign Trade [sic] will have equal standing with congressional deliberations in drafting the bill. As during the times of Mr. Chatfield, Her Majesty’s chargé d’affaires, who wanted to impose a sort of British protectorate on this little corner of the world.

I will have to look up the historical allusion there.

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