Standing in the way of capitalism is ultimately a losing cause.
It is the nature of capitalism to progress, expand, develop and morph in order to get more out of a product or service than it is actually worth. It crosses oceans, reaches toward the innards of the earth, and will one day expand (meaningfully) into space.
Capitalism is progress and progress cannot be stopped. History has shown this. This does not necessarily mean that laissez-faire capitalism will bring about progress. In fact, it is quite the contrary.
Time and again we see that without government constraints, individual greed will get the better of those with money (real power), and therefore cause them to act in an irresponsible manner with that power, attempting to claim a larger piece of the pie for themselves and cutting out the majority who are, in essence, the backbone of any healthy economy.
While there are serious abuses of economic power in the current state of capitalism, there are enough government constraints of that power (or the possibility of government constraints) that the market cannot really be demonized as some kind of villainous monstrosity bent on the destruction of the natural world.
It goes where it needs to survive and operates on the going wage for a particular country. Nothing more and nothing less, it is survival and growth. You might be wondering were I am going with this point about capitalism, but fear not for the point follows.
I was reading about another proposed free trade organization that will most likely be up and running by the end of the year, which will serve a function similar to NAFTA or the FTAA. The only difference is that this agreement will be aptly named the Central America Free Trade Agreement, and it includes Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It is being billed with many of the same expectations that surrounded NAFTA such as mutual economic and quality of life growth, increased competitiveness of US products and services, and a few other ways that allow the rich to become richer and allow their profit to trickle down to the huddled masses.
I am a supporter of economic expansion in most circumstances, possibly this one as well, but I have to be a little skeptical when I look at the serious let-down that was NAFTA. I don’t know that places like Guatemala, with an indigenous population of around 50 percent, would actually benefit from an increased flow of United States goods and services.
Most of the Mayans in Guatemala make a living through cooperative enterprises that are built up in a method so as to encourage sustainable development. It helps to stick together when your government has spent a very long time trying to commit genocide against you. It also helps to support yourself when the government, which is made up of a bunch of exploitative European-American Catholics (believe me they are, I met many of these ruling “feudal” families of Guatemala when I lived there), are only acting in their best interests which are subsequently in the interests of the United States.
Adding the unpredictable element of relatively unchecked progress and capitalism to a country like this could seriously destabilize a group that already feels marginalized from their rulers. Imagine what it will do to the rest of an impoverished and potentially unstable region.
Making money and increasing the global quality of life through progress are noble pursuits, but destabilizing a region and threatening another ethnic war in the name of profit are not.
Each country needs to be viewed on an individual basis and not just as a package deal for global mega-corporations.