Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Delegation from Diocese Attends Tucson Conference on Trade Agreements

(left to right: Martha Campos, Gloria Cutshall, Terrie Iacino, Lupita Vital, Linda Batton)

On April 14-16, 2005, a delegation from the Diocese of San Jose traveled to Tucson to attend "Crossing the Borders of Trade," a leadership conference on trade agreements.

Attending the conference for the Diocese were Linda Batton, Terrie Iacino and Lupita Vital from the Office of Pastoral Ministry and Gloria Cutshall, member of the local grant committee for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), and Martha Campos of SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network.

The conference began with a focus on social analysis and theological reflection. Dr. Daniel Finn of St. John's University opened with a reflection on trade agreements and the economic principles that guide them. Sister Maria Riley, OP of the Center of Concern added an analysis highly critical of NAFTA and CAFTA, a trade agreement currently under consideration by Congress.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Bishop Jose Ulises Macias Salcedo of Hermosillo, Mexico then offered insights on the moral principles that the Church believes must underlie trade agreements. Both bishops stressed the importance of the preferential option for the poor. Bishop Kicanas stated, "The moral test of a trade agreement is not simple the enrichment of a few, but the betterment of many." He went on to say that trade agreements should lead not just to an exchange of goods and services, but also to "decent jobs, wages, and working conditions for all and should not contribute to the migration of human beings because of the absence of opportunities in their homelands." They encouraged nations to follow the ethical guidelines for trade agreements established by the Vatican for the fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, in September, 2003, which include:

  • People are an end, not a means of trade policy.
  • Trade agreements should conform to the demands of Catholic social teaching.
  • Trade agreements should benefit people, not just markets.

During the next day, all the participants went on a Borderlinks immersion trip across the border to Nogales, Mexico. When there, they met with maquilla worker organizers, environmental officials, and ordinary residents of the colonias, or unincorporated neighborhoods in Nogales.

The final day focused on action and there was a choice of workshops on advocacy, the environment, worker justice, human trafficking, and farmers.

Resources to Learn More about CAFTA:

  • Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty. This joint campaign of CRS and the USCCB calls for the U.S. to make overcoming poverty central to trade policy, starting with agriculture. Visit www.crs.org/globalpoverty.
  • The Joint Statement Concerning the U.S. Central American Free Trade Agreement. This joint statement between Central American and U.S. Catholic bishops urge members of Congress to evaluate CAFTA on a set of moral criteria. To read/download, see www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/jointtradestatement.htm.

To Take Action:

Visit the CRS website, www.crs.org/actioncenter.cfm to send a message to your member of Congress.


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