A NAFTA Break

After watching the Moyer’s special on NAFTA’s Chapter 11, I’m even more enraged about Chapter 11’s effect on the environment than I was before. Hopefully, the program will inspire increased coverage of Chapter 11 in the mainstream media, though I haven’t found any mention of it so far.

When I first heard about Moyer’s special, I was a little shocked that I hadn’t heard anything about a billion dollar suit against California previously. I’m not a news addict by any means, but I do follow the news, especially environmental news, and I hadn’t heard about the effects of Chapter 11 before, particularly the negative effects it has had in Canada. (As a recent victim of throat cancer, I was outraged to hear that American cigarette producers were able to use Chapter 11 to prevent Canada from putting stronger health warnings on their cigarette packages.)

One of the few mainstream newspapers that has given any coverage to the issue was The Christian Science Monitor. On April 3rd, 2001 they wrote an article entitled “Does NAFTA trump countries' laws?” The article argued that the Chapter 11 needed to be refined, but that none of the parties wanted to re-open discussions on NAFTA as a whole.

Other than that article, though, I have been unable to find any major media that has covered Chapter 11. Perhaps that’s not surprising when networks are owned by large corporations who might well be taking advantage of Chapter 11 for their own gains and when ratings are pushed by coverage of newsworthy events like the Gary Condit story.

The online Public Citizen offers the most coverage of Chapter 11 I’ve been able to locate so far. Their front page today, (Feb. 6) provides an opportunity to email or phone your representatives in Congress. After heavily editing the canned letter they provide, I emailed all my representatives!!

The Multinational Monitor has an informative article on the effects of Chapter 11. WTOaction.org has an extensive article discussing the NAFT ruling on Metaclad versus Mexico.

While it’s difficult to feel optimistic about attempts to fight business interests on an international level, there does seem to be a growing concern about the actions of large businesses in general despite, or perhaps of, an Administration that is heavily stacked in favor of big business.

Doing nothing simply ensures that business interests will prevail, while taking action at least makes you feel better for the day.

What do you think?