Latin America & Caribbean

North American Free Trade Agreement

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) sets guidelines for the elimination of most trade and investment barriers between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico over a 15-year period. In place since January 1, 1994, NAFTA is an experiment that builds upon a U.S.-Canadian Free Trade Agreement signed in 1988. Never before has an agreement gone so far to integrate the economies of nations that are so unequal. The gap between average U.S. and Mexican wages is about 8-to-1, which is twice as large as the wage gap between the European Union’s richest and poorest members.

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The CIA, Contras, Gangs, and Crack

In August 1996, the San Jose Mercury News initiated an extended series of articles linking the CIA’s “contra” army to the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. Based on a year-long investigation, reporter Gary Webb wrote that during the 1980s the CIA helped finance its covert war against Nicaragua’s leftist government through sales of cut-rate cocaine to South Central L.A. drug dealer, Ricky Ross. The series unleashed a storm of protest, spearheaded by black radio stations and the congressional Black Caucus, with demands for official inquiries. The Mercury News’ Web page, with supporting documents and updates, received hundreds of thousands of “hits” a day.

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