Guatemalans Reject Central America FTA with US
Guatemala, Apr 7 (Prensa Latina) Blocking of roads, demonstrations around public government buildings and huge rallies are reverberating Guatemala today after protests by social sectors against the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.
The protests, summoned by the Indigenous, Peasant, Union and Popular Movement of Guatemala, include more than 20 organizations demanding that the government of President Oscar Berger and Congress pay more attention to the poorest social sectors.
Protesters clashed with police outside the Guatemalan Congress on Tuesday for several hours, forcing postponement of debate on a controversial free-trade agreement with the United States.
According to Joviel Acevedo of the National Teachers Association, Guatemala´s problems are not being solved because neither the president nor the Congress are interested in finding a solution to the conflict caused by the FTA and Law of Concessions.
Acevedo said that the protests will remain alongside a legal struggle at the Constitutional Court to prevent the Central American Free Trade Agreement from coming into effect.
US President George W. Bush and his Guatemalan counterpart Oscar Berger signed the agreement in May 2004.
Central American nations are seeking a trade agreement with the United States that will lower or eliminate tariffs.
But left-wing groups and social sectors in Central America are concerned about its impact on jobs and whether small farmers will be able to compete against US subsidized agriculture.