NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor
Produced by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
April 5, 1996
Volume 3, Number 7
Despite regional movement toward free trade agreements, farmers' resistance continues. In Paraguay, thousands of peasant farmers descended on the capital, Asuncisn, on March 15 demanding withdrawal of Paraguay from the Mercosur trade pact, as well as better prices, land, and other benefits. Government and opposition political figures agreed that the farmers' demands were not likely to be met.
Angry Chilean farmers blocked highways with trucks and tractors on March 28, protesting Chile's agreement to associate with Mercosur. The farmers charge that cheap Argentine and Brazilian crops will kill Chilean agriculture. At one barricade, protesters carried a black coffin filled with cabbages, carrots and other vegetables. Opposition to the agreement is strongest among grain and livestock farmers, with some export- oriented sectors like wine and fresh fruit supporting the plan because they anticipate access to the large Argentine and Brazilian markets.
Chilean farmers are now protected by an 11 percent tariff on all goods entering the country, which would be phased out over 18 years under the Chile-Mercosur agreement. Chilean government officials say the decision to associate with Mercosur is irreversible.
"Campesinos Protest in Paraguay," WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE ON THE AMERICAS, March 24, 1996; "Paraguayan Peasants Mass to Demand Land Reform," REUTER, March 15, 1996; Jose Agurto, "Chilean Farmers Block Roads to Protest Trade Deal," REUTER, March28, 1996.
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