Themes - 27 septembre 2010

fr - Broken Promises : Nafta at 15

NAFTA’s promise of prosperity for Mexicans never materialized. In fact millions lost their livelihoods driving immigration to the U.S.

“So what are you going to do ? Stay here dying of hunger and poverty, or risk your life going to the U.S. to have a shot at helping your family ?”

FACT ONE : When NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement)was implemented in 1994, Mexicans were told that increases in trade, foreign direct investment and exports would raise incomes and the standard of living in Mexico. The reality has been something else.
Only 10% of the population has seen any rise in their income or standard of living. The vast majority of Mexicans are far worse off, and many have seen no other option but to migrate.

FACT TWO : Studies show that the largest surge ever in legal and unauthorized Mexican immigration to the United States began after 1994. An average of 500,000 Mexicans have migrated each year since the implementation of NAFTA, compared to 28,000 in the year immediately prior.

Two third of Mexican born immigrants in the U.S. came after 1994. This estimated 4.13 million people arrived due, in large part, to the influx of cheap subsidized grains from the U.S. decimating at least two millions small farmers.

FACT FOUR : Every hour Mexico imports $1,5 million of food ; in that same hour 30 farmers migrate to the U.S. Under NAFTA, subsidized corn exported from the U.S. to Mexico more than quadrupled in the first ten years. This corn was at times sold at prices 30% below the cost of production in Mexico.

FACT FIVE : Maquilas, foreign-owned factories concentrated on the Mexican border, originally were touted as a job creator for Mexico. The facts don’t bear this out.
The 1,3 million jobs created during the peak period of the maquila industry have only provided a small portion of the jobs needed to cover the millions of workers pushed off their farms or forced out of Mexico’s devastated domestic industries.

The Maquilas are notorious for their hazardous working conditions, instability, minimal benefits, and suppression of unions> The low wages, typically as little as $5 a day – have continued to decline even as more factories move to countries were labor costs are even lower. (Over 30% of those jobs have already been lost).

The NAFTA free trade model has been a failure for millions of people. Because of increased poverty, many people have been driven from their home to provide for their families.

(Excerpt of an article published in the December Witness for Peace Newsletter. For a more detailed analysis and references cf. at 15)