San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

THE PEOPLE OPINE ON CAFTA : ‘Diay, How Will it Affect Us?’

If recent polls on the Central American

Free-Trade Agreement with the United

States (CAFTA) are correct, soft-spoken

street cleaner Humberto Pérez represents a

huge percentage of Costa Ricans: he’s


A Municipality of San José employee

from the rural canton of Mora, west of the

capital, Pérez, 35, says he may vote in the

October referendum but can’t tell what the

pact could mean for him.

Leaning on the broom he’d used to

remove a massive bundle of trash and

grime from the neighborhood just south of

La SabanaPark on a recent Thursday, the

husband of Melba Sáenz and father of a 9-

year-old, Jesús, swayed back and forth

between “yes” and “no” several times during

a brief conversation, saying that he

needs more information.


TT:Will you vote for or against CAFTA in the upcoming referendum?

HP: I’m deciding if I’ll vote or not. Diay, how will it affect us? They say in many ways – the Social Security System (Caja), medicines, water and more than anything else this stuff about telecommunications. That’s all I know… I think the “yes” (campaign) will win. Most of the people I know are against it… but from what we hear, it will win.

How do you think the outcome will affect you personally?

Supposedly the rich will get richer, richer than they should be. That’s all I know – I need more information.

If CAFTA passes, what kind of Costa Rica will we have in 10 years? I honestly don’t know. If it’s not approved, a lot of aid will leave,many businesses, many sources of jobs. Not much investment will arrive here. We have to approve it, no matter what. Supposedly, those who know say we’ve got to approve it.

What will be the single most important reason for your decision?

Whether it will bring more competition for us. They say it may attract more competition, and that could affect us at the municipality.

Why has CAFTA attracted so much attention here and abroad?

There’s something going on there…among the powerful. (President Oscar) Arias would gain a lot with this. That’s why he tossed it out to a referendum, so he can wash his hands of it afterward.


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