Civil Society Mobilization Against Trade Agreements: The Case of CAFTA and the Costa Rican Opposition
My topic was the Costa Rican opposition to the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA is an agreement that reduces trade barriers such as quotas and tariffs to encourage international trade. The agreement also requires Costa Rica to privatize national industries, such as telecommunications, and open the market to transnational companies' competition. I looked at what motivates people to get involved in activism opposing the agreement.
Dr. Samer Abboud, assistant professor of political science
I had a class with Dr. Abboud in my fall semester of my senior year. Since that was his first semester at SU, I had a chance to get to know him in the classroom. When I found out that he had studied international economics, I began asking him questions about different philosophies I was interested in applying to my thesis. He helped me look at the material through a truly international lens and was able to critique American perspectives as well as others less commonly taught and discussed. Also, since I wasn't an economics student, he helped me get through some of the more technical arguments that I needed to explore. Once teamed with him, I found his critique of my work invaluable. He helped me sort through an overwhelming mountain of research and the tedious revision process so that the resulting product is something that I can really be proud of.
In January and throughout the spring semester, this project took more time than any other one class. I did five forms of research: read newspaper articles, read journal articles, looked through trade databases, reviewed government documents (i.e. the full text of the agreement) and did 10 formal interviews in Costa Rica over spring break. I began drafting my paper after spring break, which entailed sorting out the research and then revising and revising and revising with my advisor's help.
I have taken away a renewed interest in grassroots politics and mobilization. The opposition in Costa Rica was inspiring because of the way that the people moved to involve themselves in a major political event. This has really renewed my belief in the value of grassroots work and made me want to get involved in my own ways.
I am currently in Costa Rica, living in the capital city of San José. I am tutoring English, with an eventual goal of doing freelance journalism here (once my Spanish is up to par). I have a long-term goal of completing a master's degree abroad, studying something within the area of anti-capitalist social movements.