What campaigns for trade deals are made of

An interesting memo just cropped up from Costa Rica in the midst of the debate about the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), one of the latest installements in the string of plans to free trade and capital flows in the Americas. This memo came from the YES campaign and advocated interesting strategies, such as fostering fear:

Beyond what can be done in the communities and in private enterprise, there is such little time left that we should have no shame in saturating the media with publicity. And precisely because of this short time, it is imperious to direct the campaign in two directions:


2. Stimulate fear. We can use four kinds of fear:

– Fear of loss of jobs. (…)

– Fear of attack to the democratic institutions. It is crucial to make YES the equivalent of democracy and institutionality (this is what Eduardo Ulibarri said: we have to fill YES with a content of values) and make NO the equivalent of violence and disloyalty to democracy. (…)

– Fear to the foreign influence in the NO. We have to insist everywhere on the connection of the NO with Fidel, Chaves and Ortega, in very strident terms. (…)

– Fear of the consequences of a triumph of NO on the Government. (…) (pp. 3-4)

This constitutes an interesting glimpse into what may go on behind closed doors amongst supporters of such agreements, and cannot but be reminescent of the behaviour of our own elite at various junctures, such as Montebello recently. Heads have started rolling in Costa Rica; is there a scope for increasing demands and pressure for accountability on our end?

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