Jan 02 2014

20 Years After NAFTA and the Zapatista Uprising, Mexico’s Economy and Environment Are Devastated

Twenty years ago a trade deal championed by President Bill Clinton went into effect. The North America Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, was meant to integrate the economies of the US, Canada, and Mexico, by breaking down trade barriers between them, creating jobs and closing the wage gap particularly between the US and Mexico.

What in fact happened was that US corn flooded the Mexican market, putting millions of farmers out of work. Multinational corporations opened up factories creating low wage jobs at the expense of organized labor and the environment. This in turn drove waves of migration North.

Meanwhile, corporate profits soared and Mexico boasted the richest man in the world. Walmart and Krispy Kreme conquered Mexico and Mexicans had access to the same consumer goods as their neighbors to the North. The economies of all three nations measured only by GDP rather than jobs or wages, were pronounced grand successes.

But in the US, manufacturing jobs fell dramatically and organized labor lost even more clout. The Great Recession of 2008 worsened the downward trend. Mexico’s economy, tied intimately to the US’s because of NAFTA, suffered more than any other in Latin America.

Today, the Obama Administration is eyeing a new, grander trade deal in the image of NAFTA, called the TransPacific Partnership. Depending on who you talk to, NAFTA has been a grand success or an abject failure.

GUEST: Manuel Perez Rocha, Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC

Visit the Institute for Policy Studies at www.ips-dc.org

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