In justifying the signing of free trade agreements with Columbia and Honduras Harper sloughed off human rights concerns by stating that one of the ancillary benefits of open trade is that it improves the conditions in these nations resulting in an improved human rights climate. Perhaps we should ask the Mexican people if that is true or not.
The country is going through a disastrous situation. The imperialist
pillaging and exploitation which the country suffers has grown to levels
that are leading to a national catastrophe … At the moment, poverty
affects 70 percent of the national population. Life in the indigenous
communities and in the slums surrounding the cities is hell. Meanwhile,
the oligarchs accumulate incredible riches through the exploitation of
workers and the sacking of the national resources and public and social
property. Mexican Labor News & Analysis August , 2011, Vol. 16, No. 8
Mexico joined with the US and Canada in signing the NAFTA in 1994, and the picture isn't a pretty one. In Mexico as in other agrarian societies there is a need to create a pool of labour to work in all those new sweat shops, this is accomplished by flooding their markets with cheap subsidised staples. In Mexico's case it was US corn, in Haiti it was rice, but the results are the same. Masses of people no longer able to sustain themselves off the land forced to migrate to the cities in search of work in the factories.
At the same time government is privatised resulting in massive job losses , increased deficits causing huge cuts to services,and it seems education is always a prime target. Add these together and you get a fractured society, one where many have lost their sense of self and almost always a more violent one.
More than 15 years ago, we were told that NAFTA would create a
thriving middle class in Mexico … and government officials said that the
agreement would lead to growing trade surpluses and that hundreds of
thousands of jobs would be gained. As our friends from Mexico can
attest, NAFTA did not bring these benefits. Instead, workers’ rights are
being violated on a regular basis, and both the U.S. and Mexico are
worse off for it. Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine)
However there is one more thing we can count on and that is eventually the people of these nations fight back some with success some not but resist they do.
On Tuesday, September 13, hundreds of members of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) and their supporters ended a six-month occupation of the Zócalo, the main plaza in Mexico City, in an apparent agreement regarding the government’s selling off and shutting down of the state-owned light and power utility—which caused 44,000 workers to lose their jobs.