Legislator Finds Fault With CAFTA Proceedings

July 21, 2006

The Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA) has been under debate in the Legislative Assembly for more than eight months, but a pending court ruling could annul the entire process and send lawmakers back to square one.

Citizen Action Party (PAC) legislator Alberto Salom filed a case before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) alleging that the government has not given the pact its due publicity, according to the daily La República.

The basis for his claim: in November 2005, the government printed only 1,500 copies of the official government daily La Gaceta, in which all bills must be made public, that contained the CAFTA text. The normal run for the daily is 4,000 copies, 2,500 of which go to subscribers, La República reported.

Salom told the daily the smaller press run left citizens “defenseless” and said a Sala IV ruling in his favor could force the Foreign Affairs Commission, responsible for discussing CAFTA, to repeat all the audiences it has held on the pact.

However, Government Printer Director Nelson Loaiza said the La Gaceta run for CAFTA is similar to that of other trade agreements, given that the pact totals more than 2,000 pages. Its publication cost ¢35 million ($68,359), Melissa Thompson of the Government Printer told The Tico Times.

Loaiza said copies were not sent automatically to all subscribers; those interested sent in their payment for the extra-large issue (¢7,500, or $14.60, up from the paper’s normal price of ¢195, or $0.38). The Government Printer still has 150 copies available.

Sala IV justices have no deadline in which to make a decision. Foreign Affairs Commission chairwoman Janina Del Vecchio said the group will continue with its audiences as scheduled until receiving notification from the court.

 

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