US Blocking Costa Rican Sugar From US Markets Unless It Agrees To Draconian IP Laws Citizens Don't Want

from the how-nice dept

We were just talking about whether or not countries are really able to push back on the US’s attempts to export draconian anti-competition/anti-innovation copyright and patent policies elsewhere. Michael Geist points us to two cases where US trade representatives are going overboard in trying to get foreign countries to put in place stringent intellectual property rules. The first is in Costa Rica, which is included in the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Yet like with other free trade agreements that the US has agreed to elsewhere, this one includes draconian intellectual property law requirements. I still cannot understand why intellectual monopoly protectionism — the exact opposite of “free trade” — gets included in free trade agreements. At least in Costa Rica, a lot of people started protesting these rules, pointing out that it would be harmful for the economy, for education and for healthcare. So the Costa Rican government has not moved forward with such laws. How has the US responded? It’s blocking access to the US market of Costa Rican sugar until Costa Rica approves new copyright laws. Nice of the US, right? Bankrupting Costa Rican farmers to force Costa Rica to put in place a copyright regime it does not want.

Then there’s the Bahamas, where US trade representatives are demanding new intellectual property laws, claiming that the country is not in agreement with WTO treaties. Apparently, the USTR is particularly upset about the police force in the Bahamas not cracking down on the sale of unauthorized DVDs, CDs and counterfeit clothing. However, as the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce president notes, nearly all of those counterfeit products actually originated in the US — and that the majority of people doing the buying are US tourists. In other words, the issue is really with the US, but it seems to want everyone else to deal with it.

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Comments on “US Blocking Costa Rican Sugar From US Markets Unless It Agrees To Draconian IP Laws Citizens Don't Want”

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115 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

No

“US Blockading Costa Rican Sugar Unless It Agrees To Draconian IP Laws Citizens Don’t Want”

Uh, please don’t go all George W. Bush on us and start using “words of war” where they don’t belong. This is not a blockade, it’s denial of a market.

Unless, of course, I missed the part where US Naval Warships and Air Force Jets have enclosed all the ports from which Costa Rican sugar ships….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No

To one u s citizen it is a denial of market, to the rest of the world it is a blockade. The u s needs to learn it is not the dictator of the world. Personally I would love to see the world put the same draconian measures up against the u s, lets see how long the true tyrants of the world would last.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: No

> To one us citizen it is a denial of market, to the rest of the world
> it is a blockade.

I find it hard to believe that the rest of the world has no idea what a blockade actually is. It’s more likely that it’s just *you* who is ignorant of the fact that– by definition– a blockade is the physical interdiction of traffic going to and from a particular port or country by naval vessels of another country.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No

“Call it what you like it still equates to the same thing ,’Us bully boy tactics'”

Sigh, no, NOT the same thing. Both may be bully tactics, but in one case the US has the RIGHT to that tactic, and in the other they do not (speaking in the eye of the global community).

Again, a blockade is an ACT OF WAR, restricting trade is not.

Stuart says:

Re: Re: No

You are so right. How dare the US decide who can and can not sell thing to them! Ok. Happy now. While I agree that our current IP laws are SHIT. You pissing all over about the US deciding who can and con not sell to it is what I would call bullshit. Jump on the US if you want but do it for something that dose not make you seem to be a complete tool.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No

“You are so right. How dare the US decide who can and can not sell thing to them!”

How dare the U.S. government dictate to its own citizens that they cannot buy things from countries that don’t want intellectual property laws that most of the U.S. citizens don’t want anyways. How dare the U.S. government act against the best interest of the overwhelming majority of its own citizens just to serve the top one percent.

yacc says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No

Well, you mean the US whose government is the champion of free trade?

Guess free trade is less important then forcing a completely artificial concept
(patents are basically about controlling what you can think and do. Does not matter that I had an idea the same time or even earlier, if somebody with a bigger bank account claims otherwise, though luck. Copyright in a digital age basically means that some corporation claims the sole right to some very big number (because that’s what even the whole content of a DVD is); actually it’s a family of numbers, because if you transcode it, they still claim that you are not allowed to distribute that number) on unwilling sovereign governments, that are just following the will of their population. Guess that’s how “US-made democracy”(tm) works?

And that all, just to keep antiquated business models going?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No

“How dare the US decide who can and can not sell thing to them!”

The assumption here is that it’s the U.S. deciding who can and can’t sell things to them. It is not the U.S. dictating who can and can not sell things to them, it’s the U.S. government, not acting on behalf of the U.S. itself (ie: the citizens), but ONLY acting on behalf of the top one percent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No

For the U.S. itself to be deciding who can and can’t be selling things to them would mean the government won’t interfere with free trade and I, as a U.S. citizen, can decide where I want to buy things from (so long as the source of the product is labeled. IE: made in china stickers or Made in Japan, etc…). Then, if the U.S. decides it doesn’t want to buy things from x country because they don’t follow our draconian intellectual property laws that none of the U.S. citizens really want, they can choose not to buy things from there and country x won’t get anything from us until they change their laws. But when the government chooses what its own citizens can and can’t buy and from where, it’s not the U.S. making that decision, it’s the top one percent, the government only pretending to act on behalf of the citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No

There are two fundamental issues here:

1.)The US is using its trade clout to get other countries to adopt its rules.
2.)US IP laws suck.

For #1, I’d argue the US is absolutely in the right. If we do not make adoption of our rules a precondition of selling things on our market, other countries will undercut prices by ignoring those rules. And keeping those rules effective is generally in the public’s best interest; take environmental regulations, or labor laws, for example.

For #2, yeah I agree with you. US IP laws are stupid right now, and seriously need reform.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:4 No

I agree that the U.S. has every right to choose not to trade, but that doesn’t make it intelligent or honorable. You are afraid other countries would undercut prices…but this is a good thing for U.S. citizens(businesses and consumers). Most trade restrictions – these included – exist to protect a very small but politically connected group of producers at the expense of everyone else.

Your examples, for instance, I think are poor. We set labor laws according to our own situation(minimum wage is retarded as it is), but ignore that others have different situations, e.g. more white collar and fewer blue collar jobs, fewer jobs period, more available individuals, smaller costs of living, etc. that make the economics of manual labor much cheaper elsewhere. This is a good thing, because it reduces the cost of business for everybody else and thus lowers prices.

And environmental regulations are usually the antithesis of economic sense and are more for the purposes of politicial grandstanding than any real necessity. Even if they were needed, a country is usually only screwing up its own locale with poor waste management(thankfully, this whole global warming alarmist bullshit is starting to subside, although we’ll prolly be warned about global cooling in another ten years again) and isn’t necessarily going to be swayed by U.S. bullying anyways. But either way, it is in the public’s best interest to import those goods at the cheaper prices.

This is undoubtedly one of them. It is beneficial for U.S. consumers and Costa Rican producers to engage in trade here, yet the U.S. coerces the CR government for the benefit of a few powerful entertainment lobbyists. While legal, it is extortion in every other sense of the word – which naturally occurs all the time in international politics, but is particularly shameful when it is in no country’s best interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No

Bullshit. A blockade, by definition, is an act of war, by deliberately blocking all trade in and out of a country’s ports. This is a denial of market; ie: The US is not going to buy stuff from you. Not buying someone’s stuff is hardly being “the dictator of the world”. Saying that it constitutes tyranny is essentially saying the US MUST buy all other countries products, regardless of other concerns…now THAT is tyranny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No

“Saying that it constitutes tyranny is essentially saying the US MUST buy all other countries products, regardless of other concerns…now THAT is tyranny.”

It is tyranny, the U.S. is not allowing its people to buy products from a certain country for no good reason other than to serve the top one percent. That’s tyranny. No one is saying that you or anyone must buy something from a particular country, but the tyrant U.S. is telling its citizens and businesses that it can’t buy something from a particular country. That’s tyranny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No

Agreed entirely. In addition, this is hardly likely to win us any more friends abroad. Once again this is a clear black and white example of the rights of citizens and businesses in the U.S. being violated by the very entity whose sole purpose of existence is to protect those rights. Free trade is the only logical option.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No

Call it whatever the fuck you want, it’s still the same thing. Let’s call it “waxalakes”. The U.S. is waxalakesing the costa rican market, not allowing trade, until…..

A blockade doesn’t have to be a physical blockade, there are further meanings to words. Yes, hard to grasp, but there are deeper meanings.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: No

“Actually, DH, its extortion by the US government. The government said, to paraphrase, “Do what we want you to do or else we will hurt you,” in this case financially. If I’m not mistaking doesn’t this fall under the RICO Act?”

God dammit, NO! This is why the words are so fucking important, for christ’s sake. RICO is US Federal law and has no standing in the realm of multinational trade law. It’s designed to combat organized crime rings, not to be brought against a nearly uniformly recognized government.

And it’s not “extortion” either, for the simple reason that these actions are ILLEGAL. The very coersion being applied has to be illegal for extortion to apply, and in this case the carrot the USTR is taking away from Costa Rica is NOT one to which they are entitled.

Or was that just a really, REALLY excellent job of trying to bait me?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No

“Uh, please don’t go all George W. Bush on us and start using “words of war” where they don’t belong. This is not a blockade, it’s denial of a market. “

Words are alive and have definitions beyond that of what’s in the dictionary. A quick glance instantly lets you know that the “blockade” is relative to the US market and not to a war-time enforced lock-down.

The author may not have been *as* correct in using the wordage he did, but you going emo about incorrect wordage that was easily understood with the context shows your maturity.

Percy says:

Re: War is not just fought with weapons.....

Terrorism definition is to threaten a political body with harm if they do not do as told. That is war by terror. The US is the enforcement arm of the NWO and globalizing will occur and it will be run by fascist corporations and international bankers and their fiat theiving and all countries will comply or else.

Its that simple. They don’t need to use expensive war ships when they can sit in an office for nothing and prevent your products from being sold, destroy your farmers, and do it all without firing a shot. This is modern high tech warfare. You have no clue. Here, go visit this place and find out what is going on in your world while you are sleeping.

http://www.vaticproject.blogspot.com

WAKE UP, MY DEAR…… you are rapidly being left behind as one of the few people on the planet that does not see the nazification of the globe.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: RE: No

“2. any obstruction of passage or progress: We had difficulty in getting through the blockade of bodyguards.”

Interesting…where did you get that definition?

From freedictionary.com:

1. The isolation of a nation, area, city, or harbor by hostile ships or forces in order to prevent the entrance and exit of traffic and commerce.
2. The forces used to effect this isolation.

From wikipedia:

“A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war matériel or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or in toto. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city”

From Wordrefernce.com:

“a war measure that isolates some area of importance to the enemy”

Ullhass says:

Re: Re: RE: No

If you look at the definition stated in Merriam-Websters dictionary, there is a broader use of the term:

Main Entry: blockade
Function: noun
Date: 1693

1 : the isolation by a warring nation of an enemy area (as a harbor) by troops or warships to prevent passage of persons or supplies; broadly : a restrictive measure designed to obstruct the commerce and communications of an unfriendly nation
2 : something that blocks
3 : interruption of normal physiological function (as transmission of nerve impulses) of a cellular receptor, tissue, or organ; also : inhibition of a physiologically active substance (as a hormone)

kyle clements (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s sort of like saying ‘making use of vertically deployed anti-personnel devices’ instead of ‘carpet bombing a city’. One obfuscates the message to make it sound less objectionable, while the other is direct to the point.

Note to other countries engaged in free trade negotiations with the America:
Even when you comply with their laws, they don’t.
Look into the Canadian softwood lumber dispute. Even their own courts ruled America was in the wrong on that one, and they didn’t change their ways.

Jay Wilson says:

Re: Re: Re 'free-trade' agreements with US

I live in Costa Rica.. a Canadian who suffered through the aftermath of the blood red negotiations on the NAFTA.. the way the US has behaved since is perhaps predictable, but no less disgusting.. I tried to warn my CR friends .. since what can they expect from a 300 million strong bully in a dispute with a 4 million 3rd world country (with no army, by the way).. the measure passed by such a slim margin, many feel it was rigged..perhaps it was. Now the thought police raid coffee shops and bars attempting to collect fees on copyrighted music playing over the speakers.. radio stations are going to be closed.. chaos reigned so the Legislature is meeting in camera and should be making some unintelligeable statement before next months election. Amazing that with all the precedent evidence that exists through history, some folks still believe the US is about fair play and free markets…

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Whats the difference between “denial of market” and blockade?”

Well, I’m supposedly an unconstructive nitpicker, but to me the intracacies and subtle meanings of words has true value and writers who have a respected following ought to be careful about the way they use their words. But, to answer your question, there are two differences:

1. One is an act of war, the other is not

2. Traditionally, when you deny entrance to your market, you are “enclosing” yourself or your market, where as with a blockade the object of the encirclement is not yourself, but an “enemy”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“but to me the intricacies and subtle meanings of words has true value and writers who have a respected following ought to be careful about the way they use their words.”

If that is really the case, perhaps familiarize yourself with the full meaning of the word in question before claiming miss-use.
“a restrictive measure designed to obstruct the commerce and communications of an unfriendly nation”
It does not have to be an act of war….
And it’s “intricacies”.. not “intracacies” tsk tsk Mr.Defender of proper use of words….

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If that is really the case, perhaps familiarize yourself with the full meaning of the word in question before claiming miss-use.
“a restrictive measure designed to obstruct the commerce and communications of an unfriendly nation”
It does not have to be an act of war….
And it’s “intricacies”.. not “intracacies” tsk tsk Mr.Defender of proper use of words….”

Hey, I’ll hold myself to the same standards too, and I’ve been perfectly willing to admit when I’m mistaken. Now I’ve shown several definitions from several sources that mention a blockade, when existing between two nations, to be an act of war. Your definition doesn’t look like it makes that distinction at first glance, but actually it does with one VERY important phrase.

An unfriendly nation, when discussed in this context, is a nation with whom another nation has either no formal diplomatic relations or with whom it is at war.

And even beyond that, what the USA has done in this instance is not to restrict the commerce of Costa Rica in toto, but rather to restrict it’s reach into our sovereign borders/market.

So, in short, your definition agrees with me too….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Well, I’m supposedly an unconstructive nitpicker”

Yes, you are. Everyone here, including you, knows EXACTLY what the meaning is here. No one is suggesting that naval warships are physically stopping shipping traffic. But for some reason you find it a good idea to argue semantics rather than to actually contribute a meaningful opinion to the discussion.

Here you’ve joined a conversation about world trade and the only argument you can come up with is that one word MIGHT be misused in the headline. Jesus Christ, grow up.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Yes, you are. Everyone here, including you, knows EXACTLY what the meaning is here”

Well, maybe I’m the sole idiot here, but I actually immediately went to the linked article looking for what ships we had sent to Costa Rica, what class they were, and what was being said internationally about the incident. I was getting all prepped for one of my classic American Fascism rants because of that supposedly insignificant word. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t have been used.

“No one is suggesting that naval warships are physically stopping shipping traffic.”

No one other than the headline.

“But for some reason you find it a good idea to argue semantics rather than to actually contribute a meaningful opinion to the discussion.”

I contribute regularly. One of the things I do, because I so enjoy the writing of Mike, is to point out where I think he could be more effective. Maybe he dislikes that, I don’t know, but he’s certainly never said so and he’s occasionally incorporated some of my suggestions.

“Here you’ve joined a conversation about world trade and the only argument you can come up with is that one word MIGHT be misused in the headline. Jesus Christ, grow up.”

It’s what interested me. The number of subsequent comments, including yours, indicate it was at least of passing interest to others as well. So maybe stop being a petulant fucktard and contribute something yourself instead of whining about the discussion we were having.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Anyone who thinks a single word can’t matter clearly doesn’t understand the finer points of diplomacy and international politics. Fuck, wars can start over a single word if you aren’t lucky.

I definitely have to back DH up on this one. The discussion has spiraled out of control, but that’s only because everyone should have agreed with him in the first place — it’s clearly the wrong word, and while it’s not some terribly egregious error or an intentional switch (we know Mike better than that) I think DH was absolutely right to point it out.

Yosi says:

Re: Re:

The difference is that Costa Rica is welcomed to trade with _other_ countries.
While I wholeheartedly disagree with draconian US copyright laws, boycotting products of country with laws you don’t like is perfectly normal.
Nobody recall “blood diamonds”? How dare we to dictate employment conditions in Africa!

So, the idea itself makes perfect sense: want to trade with us – follow rules we make. Rules looks stupid to you? Trade with someone else.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, the idea itself makes perfect sense: want to trade with us – follow rules we make. Rules looks stupid to you? Trade with someone else.

Yes, boycotting is a tactic, just as violence is a tactic, but the conditions in which it is used make a large difference. In this case, blocking off Costa Rica from selling sugar to the US(which makes a huge impact to them and a smaller – albeit also negative – impact to us) “makes perfect sense” in the same way that protection rackets make perfect sense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Assuming that the US wants CAFTA for reasons other than imposing US IP law on Central America[*] then CR should get together with the other potential CAFTA members and negotiate that requirement out of the agreement. If they back down then they will get the same sort of one-sided agreement that the US struck with Canada and Mexico over NAFTA.

[*] I am not sure that this is a good assumption as this may be the over-riding reason that the US wants CAFTA. The only good thing about NAFTA is that it was struck before it occurred to the US that they could bully the world over IP rights.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is the USTR guy that Ron Kirk guy who is also juggling the ACTA agreement in which he admitted “People would be walking away from the table of ACTA were made public”?

If so, he sure seems like a charming fellow who needs some oversight.

Secondly, I thought the US Chamber of Commerce was not a Government organization on paper, but they were just a lobbying group made to looks like a government organization.

Anonymous Coward says:

wtf down with the USA

OMG what will tim hortons do without sugar OMG
the worlds coming to an end
and i say we get the imperial Canadian navy down there to smash the Americans around

/me wakes up form dream

and if i were this country i’d be calling up china and saying look we need some communist help down here these yankies have gone stupid

obama + biden = forbiden
holly + stiff = hollywood

dark dumhelmet says:

we dont need no usa stinkin lawyers

yea cause the usa is made full of laws that are moral and just
this is why a lady can celebrate her birthday in a movie theatre and get arrested for video taping 4 -5 minutes of a movie that happens ot be in background

and why you constantly invade other countries in your almighty name of money

yea we need more usa style laws already
heh

and also why american organizations in Canada haven’t paid 300000 artists since the 80’s FORCING THEM to relocate to the usa to then be subject to your fascist laws

Elaine (profile) says:

As always Americans create the demand.

I live in Costa Rica and I will grant that piracy is pretty rampant. Case in point, the other day I saw a group of American tourists buying copies of Avatar from a street vendor. The local video store obtains one copy of a Hollywood movie and then makes their own copies for the rest, profiting from the rental sales (again mostly to Americans).

That said, these poor quality bootlegs probably don’t take much if any money out of anyone’s pocket and this response is a bit harsh a sentence in poor country of only 4 million.

Anonymous Coward says:

A dramatization:

USTR: We export ideas and words, and we import food! It’s OK to stake our survival to our ideas and words because they’re so awesome you guys. But in order for that to work, we need to make sure that people in countries we have trade agreements with are forced to pay what we want (even if they have more important things to spend what little money they have on–hey that’s the way it goes).

CR: Dudes it probably costs us more and benefits us less to crack down on something as meaningless as taking notes and listening to the radio. I mean even you have to admit it’s kind of a waste, right?

USTR: Don’t worry, citizens of the US, I’ve got you covered. I told them that if they don’t force their citizens to pay what we want for our awesome ideas then I won’t let you guys buy their food. Now let’s watch ’em squirm.

US Citizens: OK but it’s winter and I’m hungry. Also kind of broke because the economy is ass?

USTR: No problem. Have a delicious bowl of… I don’t know, a bowl of ideas? But I’d better not catch you sharing!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A dramatization:

USTR: sorry, we are out of bowls and spoons too. Since we outsourced them to China, and are now boycotting them for your own good. They are pirates and we don’t like terrorist pirates.

US Citizens: Uhm, eff the laws, screw you, *** call to arms*** *** hack the planet*** KILL KILL KILL

USTR: you can’t do that because we protect you for your own good… *girgle-girgle*, blood everywhere, oh no.

US Citizens: WHAT MAKES THE GREEN GRASS GROW?!! BLOOD, BLOOD, BRIGHT RED BLOOD!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Arguing both sides

In this article, you supposedly argue AGAINST IP laws.
In the article “It Isn’t Easy To Break Out Of Obscurity In The Music Business” you implicitly argue FOR IP laws.
In this article, paying $$ for songs and ideas is bad because “they” don’t have money (although the second story implies that it’s rich tourists on vacation who actually buy the stuff).
In the other article, you assume that even if you give the music away, an artist will make money by selling other things. But what if someone else makes a “My Favorite Obscure Band” t-shirt and sells it? What if they copy that artist’s music / songs / lyrics and play them?
What if someone copied all of the content from your website and put it up on their own site with their own google adsense? Or even just one story without giving you a link or footnote as to where it came from?

I believe you’d be waxalakesing too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Arguing both sides

Just because you don’t understand the arguments doesn’t mean they don’t make sense.

I can argue for anti-theft laws with advocating the amputation of hands. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

I’m not sure what kind of world you live in where arguing against draconian laws and policies means you hate a concept in its entirety. All you’re doing here is something akin to “you’re saying totalitarianism is bad, that means you’re an anarchist”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wait a minute.. Costa Rica agreed to CAFTA, which has a certain number of provisions in order to have access to the largest consumer market in the world. Yet, Costa Rica doesn’t want to actually meet those provisions and the U.S. is at fault for granting access to itself? And that demonstrates a problem for the U.S.? Whether you agree to the provisions in CAFTA or not, whether you agree to WTO or U.S. IP laws, how is this really any more than Costa Rica not owning up to their agreements?

If you don’t like U.S. IP laws, that’s one thing. But don’t pretend that having strong IP laws and revenue for U.S. based companies that produce IP doesn’t benefit the U.S. as a whole. Between the computer and entertainment industries, the employment and taxes provided for those industries is a huge part of the U.S. economy. It doesn’t just benefit the top 1 percent of Americans. After all, all of you that don’t make enough money to pay any income taxes receive benefits from all of us that do pay substantial taxes.

Now, I believe our IP laws have lots and lots of problems, but that doesn’t mean Costa Rica can get a free pass. American companies have to operate within those laws.. and we don’t get that free pass ourselves, why should the Costa Rican’s have it? I can’t go counterfeit Avatar without suffering legal consequences. I can’t produce knock off copies of Microsoft Windows and get away with it legally. Why should companies in Costa Rica get away with it?

Flora Fernandez says:

Go on with the embargo, we do not need CAFTA

Great, go ahead with the embargo, we do not need CAFTA, all it does is making people poorer while Oscar Arias and the rich-rightist people in Costa Rica are the only ones who benefit selling sugar, the rest of the people cannot afford such plantations, it has nothing to do with Fair Trade, organic production nor good wages. Agricultural estates has nothing to do with peoples wellbeing.

UPOV, Budapest Treaty and many other laws regarding abusive intellectual property will destroy Costa Rica, we do not need CAFTA, we need to free our country from that disaster.

transmaster (profile) says:

Copyright enforcement is just an excuse.

The Real Reason for this blockade is the domestic sugar industry. They have a very powerful lobby and have successfully kept foreign sugar out of the US for many decades. Because of this the price of sugar is artificially high. The domestic sugar industry is located mostly Louisiana. It is because of this monopoly, and high price beverage bottlers have gone to corn syrup as a sweetener. Some bureaucrat, or perhaps a hidden rider put on another bill passed into law by a politician with ties to the Democratic sugar industry has hit on this idea as a way of keeping imported sugar out of the country. So don’t be fooled by the IP law smoke screen.

Merrickville says:

Why why is America considered the beacon of Democracy when they continually “”interfere”” with other Democratic countries?

The people elected the Costa Rican government, and if the Government says it’s not going to do such & such, it is assumed they are speaking for the voting public. However, if that government flies in the face of American policy, governance etc… America starts to play hard-ball.

It’s fun when you’re the biggest on the block. History reveals, that ALL empires fall. It’s just a matter of time, perhaps in my lifetime the way things are going, but eventually anyway.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Why why is America considered the beacon of Democracy when they continually “”interfere”” with other Democratic countries?”

That is a great, legitimate question, but….

“The people elected the Costa Rican government, and if the Government says it’s not going to do such & such, it is assumed they are speaking for the voting public. However, if that government flies in the face of American policy, governance etc… America starts to play hard-ball.”

That is a horrible example of your above question. I don’t like the Federal government any more than the next person, and probably far less, but the USA isn’t doing anything WRONG here, and they are certainly NOT interfering in another sovereign country. They’re bargaining, and they’re doing so WELL within their rights. CR sugar farmers don’t have a natural right to US markets, but they can get it if their government gives us something in return.

There are plenty of reasons to hate our government. This ain’t one of them….

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Absolutely not, not if we have trade restrictions or sanctions against them. Not, and I would think this goes w/o saying, that I AGREE with those restrictions.

We have a free market here in the States (supposedly), but even the most idealistic American forefather never championed a GLOBAL free market. There’s too much complexity in trading between two sovereign, often competing states for it to be absolutely free. You need a mutually agreed upon platform for effective trade to exist, and without that platform states can refuse international commerce. This can exist for a variety of reasons:

1. Trade income is used to fund things the American Government doesn’t like, i.e. Terrorism, paramilitary groups, drug trafficking, etc.

2. Potential trading partner is unethical in their industry in the for of human rights abuses, child labor laws, etc.

3. Free and open trade with the USA could be strategically unproductive, i.e. we might be willing to trade with Russia in most respects, but certain technologies are restricted from international commerce with them

The point is there ARE legitimate reasons to restrict free trade between competing nations. That this isn’t one of those legitimate cases shouldn’t lead to cries that such restrictions should never happen.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, this is the exact same behavior exhibited by large corporations that you hate so much – they are well within their rights, and are merely playing the game and bargaining with politicians for a better deal. But at least they benefit financially from it, whereas here the U.S. government is just screwing over its own people.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Well, this is the exact same behavior exhibited by large corporations that you hate so much – they are well within their rights, and are merely playing the game and bargaining with politicians for a better deal. But at least they benefit financially from it, whereas here the U.S. government is just screwing over its own people.”

Sigh, comparing the actions of two sovereign governments engaging in international trade that follows the law and requires no changes to that law and corporate groups actively lobbying to change the law so as to change the game is laughable.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That’s a fair point, I suppose. Still, it is at least partly different because the playing fields are so drastically different.

I think the difference I see is that in the trade case, two powers are bargaining for the rules they must play by, where as in the corporate case it seems like those two parties are bargaining for the rules that a third party plays by.

Perhaps I’m giving too much weight for that subtlety (sp?)…

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I think there’s less difference than that. Both cases begin with U.S. politicians taking on Big Media’s interests as a cause celebre and subsequently altering national policy.

In one instance, the government then passes laws that harm consumers. In another, the government makes trade demands that harm both Costa Rican consumers and U.S. consumers.

I would fully support U.S. coercive tactics when they’re in the long-term national interest(and other nations have every right to engage in the same practices as well, which may ultimately lead to a necessary conflict of interest), but that’s not the case here.

Volntyr (profile) says:

Calling the Kettle black?

“Then there’s the Bahamas, where US trade representatives are demanding new intellectual property laws, claiming that the country is not in agreement with WTO treaties”
Gee, I love the hypocrisy that the US is displaying with regards to not in agreement with WTO treaties. Considering that the WTO has ruled repeatedly that the US has violated WTO treaties concerning Antigua online gambling.
If the treaty said free trade, then it should be just that, free trade.

nix says:

The effects

Random thoughts…

* Financially disrupting their economy.
* Drives up the cost of sugar here in the US.
* Higher sugar prices means alternative fuels based on sugar gets increased.
* Hybrid vehicles that uses the various sugar based fuels become less attractive.
* We pollute the environment due to the fact of less hybrid vehicles or because we use more dead dino’s for fuel.
* Hey, how about disrupting the US auto industry which is trying to make inroads in the hybrids. No, it’s not like we have already given them billions already to bail them out. Lets make it just a little worse.
* So the moral of the story is; Yes we can cut off our nose to spite our face. Providing the entertainment industry is filling the coffers of the politicians. Somehow I don’t believe giving course in economics to politicians would help; since their donations may get reduced.
* On a related note; does the US like it when we get hammered for oil prices because we piss off some major oil producing nation? I guess it means we like it.
* People wonder why Americans aren’t liked outside our own borders. That one still has me puzzled.

Chris Coles (user link) says:

US Hypocrisy over IP law

In 2005 I drafted a petition to the United States Supreme Court asking the question; is the United states Ultra Vires if it does not act to the highest ethical standards. Last September, 2009, I incorporated that draft petition, (as chapter 12), into a new, free PDF book titled; The Road Ahead from a Grass Roots perspective which may be downloaded from http://www.chriscoles.com/page3.html My central theme is that I am an inventor that has been told to his face that the United States government is infringing my IP but that they would ignore me. Rather than try and recreate that debate here, I ask anyone interested in this subject as a debate to read my new book. They will discover that I am advocating a new way to look at the use of equity capital in creating new jobs and a new structure called A Capital Spillway Trust. Perhaps Techdirt might also like to talk to me further on the subject.

The eejit (profile) says:

Remember folks; a person is smart, people are stupid.

Also, I am aware that the word ‘blockade’ CAN be used to mean a restriction of a market to your advantage.

Also, this does look like a bully-boy tactic byt the US, meaning that it has lost some political capital in the international arena.

What would interest me is if Costa Rica refused aid from the US in response to this.

Luke says:

I’m confused, how is the United States inhibiting fair play and free markets?

“A free market is a market without economic intervention and regulation by government except to regulate against force or fraud. This is the contemporary use of the terminology used by economists and in popular culture; the term has had other uses historically. A free market requires protection of property rights, but no regulation, no subsidization, no single monetary system, and no governmental monopolies. It is the opposite of a controlled market, where the government regulates prices or how property is used.” Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market

It’s great that Costa Rican farmers want to sell their sugar to US consumers. However, if we really want to be fair about things, we can’t allow countries to both profit from our citizens and steal from them at the same time. Look at it from another perspective: economic statistics aside, would you be upset if Costa Rica prohibited the sale of US developed software because a few American citizens were commandeering Costa Rican sugar boats and selling their goods on the black market?

Gringa living in Costa Rica (profile) says:

"Economic Hitman" tactics at work here!

I would like you all to watch the following video interview, so you can understand how the U.S. Government preys other countries to protect corporate interests.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman – What really goes on behind Global Affairs

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5541564304553695985#docid=808526880666247652

Perkin’s was involved with Ecuador, so he initially talks a lot about that country specifically, as well as other Latin American countries – how their natural resources were taken from them and how their leaders are either deposed by coup, assassinated or both if their don’t cooperate – if all that fails, this is when young men and women are sent in to die and kill (i.e. the wars: Vietnam, Iraq, etc.) – and about how the Indonesian economy was broken in order to pay for the failed war in Vietnam.

He also talks about why both Panamanian President Omar Torrijos and Ecuadoran President Jaime Roldós where both assassinated in 1981. He goes on to note the assassinations of President Salvador Allende of Chile in 1974 and former President Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala in 1971.

The Panama Canal Treaty was the ultimate demise of both the murdered Omar Torrijos and the jailed Manuel Noriega of Panama (Noriega is still in a Florida prison today) and the canal treaty was also the reason why the U.S. Army was sent in to kill 2 to 3 thousand innocent Panamanians in 1989. I specifically remember that incident, since I knew a Costa Rican whose son was killed in that massacre – his son, who was a protesting college student in Panama at the time, was machine gunned down in cold blood along with many other protesting college students there. My friend (the boy’s father) literally cried for many days and nights after receiving news of his son’s death – it was so sad.

In the video Perkins also talks about OPEC and the Saudi Arabian Royal Family’s, the House of Saud’s, deal with the U.S., as well as U.S. designs on Iraqi, Iranian and Kuwaiti oil and the Bush family connection with oil companies and their connection to the bin Laden family.

Saddam Hussein’s demise came about because he refused to cut a Saudi-like deal with the U.S., so once again young men and women were sent in to die and be killed (i.e. the Iraq War that is still in process today).

Basically though, the bottom line really is that if you are in a position of power and you go along with the plan, you are rewarded monetarily or are promised a reward (that may in-the-end be taken away from you, as did happen in the case of the Arabs). But if you do not cooperate you are deposed or assassinated. As an Economic Hitman, working for Corporate America, you are either rewarded well for your work towards breaking the economies of Third World countries or you are fired (or worse) if you don’t cooperate with that plan.

The people of the countries that are being “hit” (Costa Rica in this case) have nowhere to turn for help and if they try to do something they are labeled as “terrorists,” so where does that leave them? They’re trapped in a nightmare.

The sugar embargo is not going to be the final word on this – if Costa Rica refuses to comply with US demands regarding the copyright laws, this thing will escalate beyond just a simple embargo! Therein is where the problem lies.

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