Would you believe Costa Rica?
That's right, amigos - Costa Rica! And rather hush-hush on the publicity-side, too.
We heard it from a reliable source on Thursday that Independent Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders [right], would be visiting Costa Rica this weekend to express his strong opposition to CAFTA - the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Costa Ricans are holding a national referendum on CAFTA on October 7. Our source said Sanders had been invited by Luis Guillermo Solis, a political science professor at the University of Costa Rica, who is a leader of the "No" side.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is a leader of the "Yes" side.
Costa Rica, a nation twice the land size of Vermont with 4 million citizens, has Central America's strongest economy. Besides bananas, tourism and retirement enclaves for North Americans, there's offshore gambling, Costa Rica's #1 industry! The country has been described as an Internet Las Vegas! The legal gambling outfits do not have to pay tax on profits earned outside of Costa Rica.
Thought we'd hear from Sanders' U.S. Senate office but finally gave up and contacted them on Friday. Press Secretary Michael Briggs confirmed it. Said he thought the Economic Policy Institute - a left-wing D.C. think tank that's involved with the trip - would have sent us this release.
Economic Policy Institute
EPI NewsAlert: Congressional Trip To Highlight CAFTA Concerns
On October 7, Costa Rican citizens will decide whether or not to approve the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), in an unprecedented referendum that could have serious economic and social consequences for Costa Rica, the United States and other countries. This weekend, two U.S. lawmakers – Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) – will travel to Costa Rica to meet with governmental, business, labor, farm, and student leaders to discuss issues related to unfettered free trade.
On Sunday, they will appear at an EPI press conference to explain why they voted against CAFTA and that many in the U.S. Congress share their opposition to unfettered “free trade”.
Didn't see Sanders visit to Costa Rica [accompanied by two of his advisors including Huck Gutman], mentioned anywhere in the Vermont press, or any press, did you?
Not a peep.
Interesting, since Ol' Bernardo, as you know, has been an outspoken opponent of NAFTA and CAFTA. His tune has been a consistent one. In 2005, as a member of the House, he voted against CAFTA, but it passed anyway on a squeaker 217-215.