Guatemalan groups vow to continue protests against FTA

Guatemalan groups vow to continue protests against FTA

2005-03-16

MEXICO CITY, March 15 (Xinhuanet) — Guatemalan grassroots organizations said on Tuesday that they will not give up protests against the Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA), ratified last week by the parliament.

"We are not going to change our position" and the demands during the dialogue that was to be opened Tuesday between social group leaders and the government, said Daniel Pascual, leader of the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations, according to reports from Guatemala City.

He noted that the protests against the FTA will continue over the coming days, and will not cease unless President Oscar Berger nullify the ratification of the commercial agreement by the Congress.

"The protests against the FTA will continue nationwide for as long as necessary until the president vetoes it. This is the only thing we could accept in the negotiations," Pascual added.

"The compensations offered by the government are not sufficient to solve the problems of inequality and injustice in the country,"which will worsen after the implementation of the FTA, he said.

In order to put an end to the protests in recent days, the government and the leaders of the social groups agreed Monday evening that they will start a dialogue process mediated by metropolitan archbishop, cardinal Rodolfo Quezada.

The dialogue scheduled for Tuesday at the Archbishop Palace will be aimed at defining a discussion agenda to reach a solution to end the protests, in which some 50 people were wounded and 16 arrested.

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source: Xinhua