Wednesday, August 09, 2006


A month and five days after the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) came into force, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger popped up last weekend with the unsurprising news that in practice it seems to be working to the sole advantage of the United States:

"United States is dumping on us, selling us things and demanding we purchase what they want, but it does not accept our goods," he griped.

To date no Guatemalan company has passed the US health inspections which are geared to protect farmers up there who receive state subsidies not only to produce, but also to export, and are thus able to offload their chicken parts on Guatemala at prices below the actual cost of production.

Berger has threatened to denounce the US to the WTO for this kind of flagrant dumping, but stopped short of hiking up chicken import taxes, a move favoured by two Guatemalan businessmen that this week found themselves subjected to a motion for reconsideration of juristictional decision in regard to their trial for fraud.

These men are Dionisio Gutiérrez Mayorga and Juan Luis Bosch, controlling shareholders of Pollo Campero. Robert Amsterdam, the Florida-based attorney acting for LISA S.A. (a firm the duo supposedly defrauded of millions of dollars in dividends) wants the lawsuit relocated back to the US Courts, and has linked the Guatemalans' attempts to use their corrupt influence to have poultry import duties raised to a comprehensive set of endemic evils afflicting their country:

"The impunity behind the tragic situation of feminicide, the unresolved human rights crimes of the armed conflict, and the lawlessness of the maras is the same impunity of these high- profile white collar offenses. We must all work together to put an end to it."

There may be assymetries in CAFTA but there's a rather neat symmetry between the two kinds of impunity at work here in the poultry products trade!

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