Fair traders have long maintained that NAFTA-style trade deals promote instability.
The case of Mexico clearly showed this, with massive amounts of post-NAFTA rural displacement leading to sharp increases in immigration and narcotrafficking, leading the country to the brink of failed statehood.
Earlier this month, the thesis was proved again in Peru. In 2007, Peruvian fair-traders warned against signing the FTA, arguing that it would incentivize further rainforest destruction. Sure enough, within months of the deal going into effect, huge parcels of the Amazon were sold off to developers, and indigenous forest-dwellers were locked in a life-or-death battle with the government.
Now, over the weekend, fair trader Manuel Zelaya (president of Honduras) was ousted in the region's first military coup since the Cold War. Opposition to CAFTA ran high in Honduras, but local elites signed the deal anyway. This led to a groundswell of support for a president that kept getting more and more progressive, most recently signing onto the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas, an alternative to NAFTA-style FTAs. The country's elites wanted to block these changes, so pushed a coup. (More information on how you can take action is available here.)
Looking ahead, as the debate continues in the United States over the Panama FTA, some comments made by that country's peasant leaders are worth considering. He said of the FTA:
This kind of trade agreement will only increase hunger and misery in the indigenous and peasant sectors of Latin America, pushing our countries even faster into the arms of leftist governments, which has already happened in South America proper.
The message is clear: if you want increase in desperation and polarization, push FTAs. If you want preservation of democracy and stability, choose fair trade.