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Activists Make Plans for Fair Trade

The Texas Fair Trade Coalition conducted its quarterly telephone conference call on March 30. Organizer Marc Jacobson brought unionists and progressive organizations together to discuss the latest and most important developments concerning fair trade. Larry Weiss of Citizens Trade Campaign, a national organization, gave a rundown on the situation in the capital.

Congressman Charles Rangel has put forward a proposal called "A New Trade Policy for America" that lists a great number of conditions that would have to be included in any acceptable trade proposals in future. Only a short form has reached outside the inner circles. Weiss said that these conditions would make trade pacts acceptable to workers and environmentalists if they were followed. He made it clear that they would be no substitute for the defeat of "fast track" legislation when it comes up for renewal June 28. "Fast track" allows the President to close trade deals with almost no oversight from Congress.

As of March 30, trade deals with Peru and with Colombia were pending presentation to Congress. Weiss stipulated that any trade deal with Colombia would be an insult to workers everywhere, because of the ongoing murders of Colombian trade unionists. If Congressman Rangel's guidelines were followed, the Peru deal might become acceptable.

On April 2, corporate news sources announced the conclusion of another trade deal with South Korea. They said it would be the biggest one since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) first began to devastate jobs and the environment. The South Korean stock market surged on the news, according to Auto News.

Texas Trade Watch is monitoring developments concerning the Trans Texas Corridor. A Spanish company has the contract to run this giant communications/transportations corridor up the middle of Texas from Laredo to Oklahoma. Unionized dock workers and truck drivers are expected to pay the consequences.

Activists will be lobbying their congresspersons. It is possible that state legislators will be asked to join the effort. Texas congresspersons are critical.

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