College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), World Trade Organization (WTO), International Labor Organization (ILO), Maquiladoras, Labor, Central America, Caribbean Basin Initiative, Guatamala


The rapid expansion of free trade has challenged workers rights in Central America. Unions are continuously deprived of customary support and resources to enforce their rights, especially in the maquiladoras. The expansion of maquila production has often been accompanied by an informal agreement between corporations and governments that do not serve to protect workers’ rights. Police and military routinely patrol factories and free trade zones (FTZs) to deter union organizing and women are constantly subjected to sexual harassment. In order to help address labor violations, trade agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) includes workers’ rights provisions in the body of the agreement. Therefore, this thesis asks: will signing CAFTA lead to the protection of labor rights in Central America? The answer is no