Times-Picayune article on CAFTA
- The article below appeared in the N.O. paper a week ago. The New Orleans
Mayor's office, the State Economic Development people, the Saints, and some
doctors from Ochsner among others all went to Costa Rica this week. They're
inviting Costa Ricans to come to New Orleans to lobby for CAFTA, as well as
come here for football games, tax-free shopping, and medical procedures. I
doubt they're asking any Costa Rican campesinos, ranchhands, or indigenous
people to come to New Orleans to give their perspective on CAFTA. And on
top of that they're spending public money to lobby foreigners while they do
nothing to educate the Louisiana public (beyond the business community)
about the agreement. This really reveals these people's priorities: Sell
off public hospitals in Central America, (while gutting the Charity system
at home,) then recruit wealthy Central Americans to get medical care here
that isn't available to the population there any more. So the rich get
health care and the poor don't. And then teaching them to like American
football? Other than choosing a losing team to market to Latin America, how
on earth is this meaningful economic development? It's selling Louisiana as
a playground for wealthy Central Americans, while ignoring the misery that
this agreement will bring to the poor. In all of this, it's only the elite
of both our societies that have an opportunity to "network and mingle,"
while the rest of us are set in competition with each other and remain
ignorant and divided. We've got to build a counter-network to these people.
La. Business officials plan Costa Rica trade mission
New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 27, 2003
- Group seeks tourism, industry contacts ?
By Joan Treadway
About 50 Louisianians, ranging from City Councilman Marlin Gusman to
Hugo (a.k.a. Michael Zerillo), the mascot of the New Orleans Hornets, will
travel to Costa Rica next week for a trade mission.
?Why Costa Rica? Because it?s a major market of the United States?
and Louisiana?s products,? said Eugene Schreiber, managing director of the
World Trade Center, one of the primary organizers of the event, along with
MetroVision, the economic development arm of the New Orleans Regional
Chamber of Commerce.
This will be Louisiana?s third consecutive yearly mission to Central
America, following a trip last year to Honduras and to Nicaragua in 2001,
Schreiber said Thursday at a press conference. Besides trade, the mission
will focus on promoting tourism to Louisiana and advertising the states?s
sports activities and medical centers.
Schreiber said highlights of the trip include a sports clinic at San
Jose?s National Stadium, where officials of the Saints footbal team will
teach about 1,000 children how to play the American game, and a meeting
with Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco at his official residence. Pacheco,
who received a medical degree in Mexico City, has a connection to New
Orleans, since he did a residency in psychiatry at Louisiana State
University Medical School.
On the Fourth of July, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica John Danilovich
will host a reception for the group featuring Louisiana specialties
prepared by chef Roy Lyons of the Frog City Café in Rayne, Schreiber said.
About 500 prominent Costa Ricans are invited to mingle with the visitors
from the north.
In addition to drumming up business for Louisiana, the mission will
advance the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement, which would
lift tariffs between the United States and Costa Rica, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The next in an ongoing series of CAFTA negotiations will be held in
New Orleans will be held in New Orleans at the end of July. The timing is
good, Schreiber said, because members of the mission will be able to
encourage business people from Costa Rica to come up for the meeting.
Although they can?t participate in the negotiations, they can attend a
related meeting, just for them, being held at the World Trade Center.
Chamber President Barbara Johnson said the global market, including
Costa Rica, is critical to the chamber?s goal of creating 30,000 jobs in
Louisiana in the next few years.
?We go to other places so that they (the people in these countries) will
remember who we are,? said Donna Fraiche, president of the World Trade
Center and another member of the planned mission. ?The mission is not just
about a few days; it?s about follow-up when we get back, keeping their
cards, keeping the contacts, keeping the relationships,? she said.
Dr. Susan Fielkow of Ochsner Foundation Clinic said one of her goals
will be to promote exchanges of medical students or people participating in
And Lisa Ponce de Leon, director of the Louisiana Tax Free Shopping
program for international visitors within the state Department of Revenue,
said she will spend part of her time on the mission educating 300 people in
the Costa Rican travel industry about Louisiana, so that they, in turn, can
encourage visits to the state.
Particpants in the mission or their employers are responsible for the
cost of the trip, which is $2,175 under a package deal arranged by the
sponsoring organizations, Schreiber said.
Joan Treadway can be reached at jtreadway@... or