Costa Rican voters narrowly approved a free-trade pact with the US last night, despite polls predicting they would quash it, the AP reports. With nearly 89% of precincts counted, 52% favored the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias declared victory. Costa Rica is the last of the six signers to have ratified the treaty.
After a heated campaign over whether opening Costa Rican markets would bring economic development or exacerbate poverty, opponents refused to acknowledge defeat until a recount is performed. The White House, which waged a bruising battle to get the pact through Congress, warned that they would not renegotiate if turned down, and threatened not to renew existing trade preferences that expire next September.