Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bill Clinton; With Red Or Green Sauce?

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, for which we can thank former President Bill Clinton, was, of course, the scheme to force the Neoliberal model, that massive, prolonged, multi-front counterattack on the working class launched by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, onto Mexico and Canada. Clinton, who along with Al Gore founded the Democratic Leadership Council to try to strip any influences out of the Democratic Party that big business might object to, was essentially a moderate (by today's terms) Republican who was too cunning to switch parties. Clinton used his influence with Democrats and today's corrupt top union leadership to get NATA through a reluctant congress.

One of its many distrous consequences has been the decimation of small scale farming in Mexico, as cheap US corn flooded the Mexican market, which led directly to the explosion of immigration to the US of former Mexican farm workers and small land holders looking for a way to survive. (It did not, incidentally, result in lower prices for Mexican consumers, as was always promised. Indeed, the price of corn based tortillas, a Mexican staple food, has skyrocketed. But this -- getting us coming and going -- is exactly what Neoliberalism is all about.)

We hear much about the immigration, but seldom about its causes or the fact that the upsurge in immigration that has conservatives so worried was caused by their own economic policies and started precisely when NAFTA took effect in Mexico.

This same explosion of immigration, ironically, is now being exploited for political gain by everyone from the racist Minutemen to New Mexico's Republican Governor Susana Martinez.

Include among the victims of NAFTA New Mexico's chili pepper industry and the farm workers who once made a living picking the chili pepper, which more and more is mechanically harvested as New Mexican farmers struggle to  compete with chili peppers grown elsewhere on larger scales, according to a new article at The Americas Program, which warns that the same economic forces may soon result in genetically modified chili peppers being grown in New Mexico.

The Americas Program, by the way,  based in Mexico City, is helpful for keeping up with what is going on in Mexico if you can't read Spanish. It covers the whole of Latin America but tends to focus more on Mexico.

A recent article there by the program's director, Laura Carlsen, was the first thing, that I have seen anyway, that shed any light on the gruesome murders of hundreds of young women in Ciudad Juarez over the past decade, for which no one has ever been arrested. Jennifer Lopez even made a movie about the murders, without having any idea of who or what was behind them, but then no one else did either.

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