Monday, January 2, 2012

NAFTA [Jan. 1, 1994] & Immigration Reform--What happened?

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, launched on January 1, 1994. With the dawning of 2012, we mark its anniversary again.  NAFTA was initially sold as a way to create new jobs in the U.S. and Canada and help Mexico modernize its economy. Thereby, as the reasoning ran, it would prevent undocumented immigration to the U.S.

In truth, however, the agreement opened up Mexico's economy to restructuring for the benefit of U.S. companies--at the expense of ordinary people in Mexico. This unleashed a flood of economic refugees from Mexico who ran for their lives to the U.S. in search of work to survive. Many of them--literally millions--had been farmers whose livelihoods were lost by highly-subsidized U.S. corn and food products that flooded the Mexican markets, undercutting local ag efforts.

U.S. workers did no better; NAFTA lowered wages in the U.S.. Manufacturing jobs left the nation. Thus, NAFTA helped create the economic disaster which gave birth to the "Occupy" movement. Here, then, the border's "Occupy" movement joined in solidarity with the 99% of Mexico on January 1 in denouncing NAFTA, as a program which has enriched the corporate elite and undercut the rest. Symbolically, the group gathered at the international bridge--the border that delineates the two nations--for a teach-in and demonstration. The group of about 40 protesters attracted the attention of passers-by and local as well as international traffic.

Professor Joe Heyman of UTEP addressed the press at the event as Occupy El Paso and Occupy Las Cruces, along with other local activist groups, met to denounce the effects of NAFTA. This excerpt of remarks, made in response to a question regarding how NAFTA affected immigration reform, reflects the spirit of the event.


fan of Gaia said...

The average Canadian has not benefitted from NAFTA either. We have lost many of our manufacturing jobs. Now, some S.American countries are being brought into the mix. Who wins? Not the ordinary person.

shahrukh said...
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