Oh, Canada… how could you?
Sandra Cuffe, “Blood for Gold: The Human Cost of Canada’s ‘Free Trade’ With Honduras” (Upside Down World, 13 November 2014)
Communities throughout the country have seen the legacy of devastation in the Siria Valley, and many Hondurans share Arteaga’s perspective on what Canadian mining companies have to offer. “What interests them is getting rich, filling their pockets with money and taking it out of the country,” he says.
The Canadian government has been on a roll promoting the interests of Canadian extractive industry corporations in Honduras in the five years since democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a June 2009 coup d’état. Development aid, embassy resources and foreign affairs programming have all helped set the stage for new legislation conducive to Canadian corporate interests, and a new bilateral free trade agreement provides protection for their investments.
The Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement came into effect on Oct. 1, 2014. Canada had originally planned to negotiate a regional free trade agreement with Honduras and its neighbours, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. After nearly a decade of stop-and-start talks, Canada opted to pursue a bilateral agreement with Honduras in 2010, less than a year after the coup. The deal was announced during an August 2011 visit to Honduras by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the first head of state to visit the country after its readmission into the Organization of American States two months earlier.
The free trade agreement, though, is just one recent element of Canada’s promotion of its business interests.
“In Honduras, Canada’s use of overseas development aid and its diplomacy to promote corporate interests are really evident, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the military-backed coup in 2009,” said Jennifer Moore, Latin America program coordinator at MiningWatch Canada.
It appears I’m not the only one riffing on this… the militarization of “free trade” (neo-liberalism, or corporate control or plain old colonialism… by a bunch of ex-colonials). I suppose Canada being a smaller power than the U.S., it’s natural it goes after smaller targets, but the result is the same.