Only four Democrats have announced their support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Cafta, which would open up trade, valued at $32 billion, between the US and El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Last month the centrist New Democrat Coalition of House lawmakers, usually pro-trade, came out against the deal arguing that the Bush administration’s irresponsible fiscal policies have robbed the nation of the ability to invest in other programmes. But globalisation isn’t going away whether Cafta gets approved or not. Free-trade Democrats should be using their leverage to get more support for retraining assistance to displaced workers, not simply posturing with blanket opposition. They also argue that the trade agreement’s labour provisions don’t go far enough to protect workers in the six other countries. But they are ignoring a provision that improves on existing rules by taking fines collected for violations of labour laws. The crux of the opposition seems to come from a general feeling of peevishness that the Bush administration didn’t consult more with the pro-trade Democrats while negotiating the agreement. But that doesn’t make it right for them to take their marbles and go home. The Central American people deserve better. —The New York Times