January 18, 2002

Editorial

NAFTA Souring Mexico - U.S. Relations

Vicente Fox, Mexico's President is learning a harsh lesson that all past presi-dents of the Mexican Republic have had to learn: Mexico is seen as a country whose people and resources exist only to serve American interests. President Fox, perhaps because he is half Irish, speaks English and Spanish and was educated in the U.S., has close relations with the top political and corporate interests. He believed that the U.S. would treat him and Mexico differentially from other Latin American countries. He learned otherwise.

Recently, President Fox received a reminder that America's interests are not necessarily those of Mexico's. The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Mexico originally signed, has been turned into an instrument that is destroying their ability to rise above the status of a third world country.

Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, legal, political, and corporate entities of the United States have utilized their wealth, political and international powers to overwhelm the limited resources of Mexico. NAFTA has turned into whatever the American interests say it is, regardless of its impact on Mexico.

Since NAFTA was implemented, Mexico has turned into a provider of cheap labor for the maquiladora interests. Labor costs are kept low by the U.S.'s ability to control the Mexican government. Mexico is required to maintain slave-status wages for its working class, and its workers are prohibited from unionizing. The existing labor unions are part and parcel of the Mexican government. The workers live in slums no better than the shantytowns in China, Africa, and Taiwan.

Mexico has been a corn growing country since antiquity. Corn was their staff of life. With NAFTA, Mexico's corn land was taken over by major U.S. corporations. Now, all the corn grown in Mexico is shipped to the U.S.A. where it is used as cattle and hog feed. Mexico now has to import corn at America's high prices to be able to feed its own people. Farmers were left dangling and the people found that their staple of life, corn, was now being fed to hogs and cattle.

Mexico's sugar industry has been another victim of the U.S.'s manipulation of NAFTA. Sugar is Mexico's second largest employer after the manufacturing industry. Over three million Mexican citizens depend on this industry for their livelihood, but American trade interests threaten this livelihood. American Trade Officials provided a "side letter to the NAFTA Agreement" that in effect limits Mexico's sugar export quota to 148,000 metric tons. Mexico does not recognize this so-called "side letter adjustment." The quota threatens the existence of the sugar industry. Its demise would create serious labor problems for the country and would have serious social and political consequences. For the sugar industry to survive, it must export a minimum of 500,000 metric tons of sugar.

The quotas and restraints on exporting avocados are another example of American duplicity. These quotas are harmful to the Mexican avocado industry. American buyers are forced to buy local, highly priced avocados to compensate for the enormous amount of water necessary in order for the trees to bear fruit. In the United States, Florida is the only state that can affordably grow avocados. In Mexico they grow abundantly in the country's natural wetlands. We are charged from $1 per avocado (mostly for puny ones) to $2, while Mexican markets sell them for a nickel or a dime apiece! But the lobbying forces, with their politicians and high priced lawyers in tow, manage to undercut NAFTA year after year.

The concept that NAFTA promotes FREE TRADE is bogus. What NAFTA has become is a massive tool for the top economic countries to oppress undeveloped, third world countries. It prevents these countries from growing economically and materially, and from joining first world nations in being able to provide for their citizens.

Mexican President Vicente Fox WILL HAVE TO BECOME NATIONALISTIC AND LOOK OUT FOR THE INTERESTS OF HIS COUNTRY before the masses arise and force a change in the way Mexico does business. If America doesn't change the way it deals with Mexico and other sovereign nations, it may have a terrorist threat along its borders that will make everything else in the past seem insignificant. Wake Up America!

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