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NEWS: Baird promotes free trade and mining during Latin America visit

Harper’s foreign affairs minister John Baird visited five countries in Latin America this past week – Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Panama and the Dominican Republic. His planned visit to Venezuela was cancelled by the Venezuelan government.

On Baird’s visit to Cuba, the Toronto Star reports, “He is trying to protect and grow Canadian mining and natural resources investments on the island…” On Venezuela, “Baird would only say the economic model that has sustained President Hugo Chavez through the years is no longer realistic and would not be endorsed by a single economist anywhere in the world.” And Postmedia adds, “Baird applauded Peru, Panama and Mexico for what he said were their ‘vibrant’ economies, which should serve as examples for other countries in the region. ‘If you look at how vibrant the economy is in Peru,’ he said, ‘how vibrant the economy is in Panama, how vibrant the economy is in Mexico, it shows that open markets lead to greater prosperity.'”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow has written, “As starkly set out in a leaked 2012 confidential government document, trade and economic opportunities for corporations have become the driving forces behind Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. Gone is any emphasis on Canada as a peacemaker or aid provider. In its place is a country ready to use foreign policy to promote its own economic well-being and gain access to the emerging markets. ‘Even where political interests or values may not align’, says the report, the government will pursue political relationships ‘in tandem with economic interests’.”

For more, please read:
NEWS: Harper prioritizes trade over human rights
NEWS: Harper pushes mining at the Americas summit in Colombia
UPDATE: An alternative trading bloc, ALBA
NEWS: Right to water demanded in protests against Barrick Gold in Peru
UPDATE: Oaxaca, Mexico conference builds stronger networks to resist mining injustice