U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement

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The U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), signed into law by President George W. Bush on August 2, 2005, established a free-trade zone between the United States and many Latin-American countries.


CAFTA, modeled after NAFTA, aimed to create a free trade zone between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as set up a separate trade agreement with the Dominican Republic. Critics of the bill worried that it would lead to American jobs being moved to Central America, while doing little to improve environmental and labor standards in the countries. Proponents of the bill argued it would result in economic freedom and prosperity for the United States and for the Central American countries.[1]

The White House was deeply involved in lobbying for the bill, making promises to many individual lawmakers, including commitments of support for future projects and promises of campaign appearances from the president and vice-president. The Washington Post reported that on the night the bill was voted on in the House, "so many top Bush administration officials were working the Capitol...that Democrats joked that the hallways looked like a Cabinet meeting."[2]

Oxfam America, the Washington Office on Latin America, World Vision and more than two dozen U.S. church groups, including the National Council of Churches in Christ, warned that they would oppose CAFTA unless it included provisions such as strong sanctions for violations of core labor rights and international environmental standards and restrictions on foreign takeovers of key sectors, such as family farms and essential public utilities. [3]


CAFTA was introduced in the House by Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) on June 23, 2005, and was cosponsored by Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).[4] The House vote was especially close, and required the lobbying of many of the members of the Bush administration. The bill passed on July 28, 2005, 217-215, with 2 not voting.[5]

House record vote:
To implement CAFTA

July 28, 2005
Passed, 217-215, view details
Dem: 15-187 opposed, GOP: 202-27 in favor, Ind: 0-1 opposed



CAFTA was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on June 23, 2005, and was cosponsored by Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The bill passed on June 30, 2005, 54-45, with 1 not voting.

Senate record vote:
To implement CAFTA

June 30, 2005
Passed, 54-45, view details
Dem: 10-33 opposed, GOP: 43-12 in favor, Ind: 1-0 in favor


Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch Resources


  1. Washington Post page on CAFTA Senate Vote, The Washington Post
  2. Washington Post page on CAFTA Senate Vote, The Washington Post
  3. Jim Lobe, Labor, Rights Groups Vow to Stop CAFTA in Congress, CommonDreams.org
  4. THOMAS page on H.R. 3045, THOMAS
  5. Washington Post page on CAFTA Senate Vote, The Washington Post
  6. THOMAS page on H.R. 3045, THOMAS
  7. THOMAS page on H.R. 3045, THOMAS

External resources

External articles