Argentine Bishops Say Free-Trade Area Must Respect Right to Life

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SAN MIGUEL, Argentina, NOV. 21, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Aica).- The Free Trade Area of the Americas must be based on respect for the sovereignty of nations and the right to life from conception until natural death, say Argentina's bishops.



In addition, "it must be implemented as a means to consolidate democratic and participatory structures in the region," the bishops state in a document published this week. Their plenary assembly ended last Saturday.

Reflecting on the negotiations of governments to establish the free-trade area, the Argentine episcopate called on Congress to open a wide debate on the issue, to follow the talks closely, and not limit itself to "approve or reject the treaty once it is signed."

The bishops also call for the creation of a forum or round-table discussion the free-trade area "to hear the opinion of entities or persons capable of giving their point of view with loyalty."

"This is indispensable and urgent in light of the experience of the external debt, incurred and augmented irresponsibly by political leaders with no knowledge of society," they note.

Finally, the episcopate stresses that the free-trade area "must not be detrimental to Mercosur and other organizations that promote important values, for example, the Andean Pact, the Central American Pact, and different bilateral pacts."