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Posts Tagged ‘NAFTA’

Another revealing article by one of my favorite journalists, David Bacon

What real immigration reform would look like

Clue: It’s Not a New Guest Worker Program

By David Bacon

Oralia Maceda, an immigrant mother from Oaxaca, asked the obvious question recently. At a meeting, talking about the Senate immigration reform bill, she wanted to know why Senators would spend almost $50 billion on more border walls, yet show no interest in why people leave home to cross them.

This Congressional blindness will get worse as immigration reform moves to the House. It condemns U.S. immigration policy to a kind of punitive venality, making rational political decisions virtually impossible. Yet alternatives are often proposed by migrant communities themselves, and reflect a better understanding of global economics and human rights.

Rufino Dominguez, who now works for the Oaxacan state government, describes what Maceda knows from experience: “NAFTA forced the price of corn so low it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore. We come to the U.S. to work because there’s no alternative.” The reason for the fall in prices, according to Timothy Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute, is that corn imports to Mexico from the U.S. rose from 2,014,000 to 10,330,000 tons from 1992 to 2008.

Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork in 1995, the year NAFTA took effect, and 811, 000 tons in 2010. This primarily benefited one company, Smithfield Foods, which now sells over 25% of all the pork in Mexico. Mexico, however, lost 120,000 hog-farming jobs alone. The World Bank says extreme rural poverty jumped from 35% to 55% after NAFTA took effect due to “the sluggish performance of agriculture, stagnant rural wages, and falling real agricultural prices.”

Read full article HERE.

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As most of you have gathered, I love the music and people, life and color, and food and ferias, not to mention the year-round sun and warm weather of Oaxaca.  However, as I’ve mentioned before, there is much going on beneath the surface and it isn’t pretty.  So, even though it’s the middle of Guelaguetza (or, maybe because the spotlight is on the music, dance, and costumes of Oaxaca’s indigenous communities), I feel compelled to share today’s article by one of my favorite labor photographers and journalists, David Bacon.

Canadian Mining Goliaths Devastate Mexican Indigenous Communities and Environment

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00 By David Bacon, Truthout | Report Email

An assembly last fall in Oaxaca of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations that called for a sustainable development policy that would support farmers as opposed to mega development projects. (Photo: David Bacon)An assembly last fall in Oaxaca of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations that called for a sustainable development policy that would support farmers as opposed to mega development projects. (Photo: David Bacon)

Oaxaca, Mexico – For over two decades in many parts of Mexico, large corporations – mostly foreign owned but usually with wealthy Mexican partners – have developed huge projects in rural areas. Called mega-projects, the mines and resource extraction efforts take advantage of economic reforms and trade treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Emphasizing foreign investment, even at the cost of environmental destruction and the displacement of people, has been the development policy of Mexican administrations since the 1970s. When the National Action Party (PAN) defeated the old governing Party of the Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) in 2000, this economic development model did not change. In fact, the PAN simply took over the administration of this development policy and even accelerated it, while in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies the two parties cooperated to advance its goals.

But while these projects enjoy official patronage at the top, they almost invariably incite local opposition over threatened or actual environmental disaster. Environmental destruction, along with accompanying economic changes, cause the displacement of people. Families in communities affected by the impacts are uprooted and often begin to migrate. Nevertheless, the projects enjoy official support and are defended against rising protests from poor farmers and townspeople by the federal government.  [Please read the full article HERE]

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The Occupy movement continues… clashes with the Oakland, CA police on Saturday are making headlines.  And, when I was in Mexico City two weeks ago, an indignado planton (encampment) was firmly established in front of the domed building that houses the Mexican stock mark.  Please note the biblioteca (library).

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I must admit to feeling right at home, as plantons are an almost ubiquitous part of Oaxaca’s zócalo.  For more on plantons, David Bacon provides a cross border historical context to the planton/occupy movements in his article, Unions and Immigrants Join Occupy Movements,

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When “progress” isn’t progress; another thought provoking article that discusses what NAFTA hath wrought…

Donkey in corn field

After NAFTA, Mexican farmers sow uncertainty
by:  Mike Wold

Agribusiness and US policy clash with Campesino culture

The donkeys began to sing to each other as it got dark — starting with a honking bray from one far down in the bottom of the valley, then another answering from up on the hillside, then a third from a little way down the dirt road running by Eleazar García’s house. The road itself was empty by now; even earlier it couldn’t have been called busy — a group of schoolgirls in their white uniforms; a pickup truck with empty burlap sacks in the back; a battered van bringing farmers back from Nochixtlán, the market town two hours away.  I’d been in rural Mexico before but never had a chance to watch the light change as the sun sank below the western hills.

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Supporting small farming in Mexico is a win-win scenario for both the U.S. and Mexico.  But instead, the U.S. has successfully pushed Mexico into an export-oriented agricultural model that assumes depopulation in the rural areas, as large agribusiness replaces small-scale farmers in places like Oaxaca. Many of the displaced farmers will, as a matter of course, migrate north to work in maquiladoras (manufacturing operations) on the border or they will cross to the United States. In other words, the development model the two governments have adopted makes migration inevitable. 

There’s no profit for corporations in helping people stay on the land, where they’re insulated from the ups and downs of the world economy. But, as García put it: “If you really want to combat hunger in the world, it’s in the hands of campesinos. They live on what they grow. It’s important that people begin to understand that.”  [Full article]

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