Anti-NAFTA Demonstrations in Mexico

February 18, 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Mexico City and other locations in Mexico in anti-NAFTA demonstrations on January 31. As dictated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), on January 1, 2008 all tariffs were lifted completely from white corn, beans, sugar and powdered milk, the last Mexican agricultural products to be protected under the agreement. Protestors denounced U.S. domination of the Mexican economy and raised demands that included calls for renegotiation of sections of NAFTA, opposition to privatization of sectors of the economy, and opposition to the dumping of U.S. produce on the Mexican market. Huge quantities of U.S. agricultural products are being sold for extremely low prices in Mexico, thus undermining the livelihoods of Mexican farmers and the entire Mexican economy.

NAFTA took effect in 1994 and includes Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

The trade agreement accelerates trends which are inherent in present-day capitalist-imperialism.

Inside the U.S. the capitalist monopolies, which dominate our entire economy, are continually working to “rationalize” and “downsize” production, to shift factories to “low wage” areas, including abroad, in order to maximize profits. For the workers, this means greater unemployment, constant job insecurity and downward pressure against wages.

On an international scale, U.S. capitalism continually seeks new markets, sources of raw materials, and more workers to exploit by penetrating and taking over the economies of other countries. Today, U.S. capitalism aims at nothing less than the virtual annexation of Mexico as well as all of Central and South America .

Some of the results of NAFTA have included that Mexico, once a net exporter of produce, is now a net importer. Maquiladoras – export factories near the U.S.-Mexico border in which Mexican workers are superexploited and are forced to live in unsafe and impoverished conditions – have more than doubled between 1993 and 2004. According to a Carnegie Endowment report, 1.3 million Mexican farmers have been displaced between 1994 and 2003. Families included, this means that some 6 million people have been displaced.

In the summer of 2005, the U.S. Congress approved a similar trade agreement called the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) which includes the U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. The U.S. government signed a similar bilateral trade agreement with Peru in December 2007 and the Bush administration has negotiated bilateral agreements with Colombia and Panama.