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What he said

10 August 2009

Being Presidente Legitimo means never having to say you’re sorry, but it does mean that — unlike United States Congressional Representatives — when you’re out doing the August meet the people thing, the intimidation level is a lot more than just shouting and subtle threats of violence.  Lopez Obrador is meeting with the 418 Mixtec communes in Oaxaca which are governed by “uso y costumbre”.

In Santa María Tepalcatepec local state police commander Andrés Melchor Hernández sent out a dozen officers armed with high caliber weapons to “convince” locals not to attend the speech.  Lopez Obrador gave it anyway.  He pretty much said what he wrote to Messers. Calderon, Obama and Harper this weekend:

Respectable leaders:

There is still time to correct the defects in the origin of the North America Free Trade Agreement; a model that was designed to benefit large corporations rather than people.

Without a doubt, the fifteen years of this treaty have seen the worst this country has suffered.  Throughout this period there has been virtually no economic growth, no support for producers, the manufacturing sector has lost 15 percent of the jobs that were available before 1994, we import more than half the food we eat, and have become a major exporter of laborers.

In large measure, due to the absurd policies imposed during the fifteen years of NAFTA, six million Mexicans have been forced to emigrate, risking everything, to suffer from discrimination and violation of their human rights, to find something to quench their hunger and their poverty.

Despite this, the governments of the three countries have not undertaken any agreements to build a more efficient, equitable, fair and mutually beneficial relationship. By contrast, in 2005, they supported the Alliance for Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), which presupposes that cooperative military actions are the means to foster development.

It is incredible that in addressing the migration issue and the problems of insecurity and violence, you consider only coercive measures, without understanding that these problems are rooted the lack of economic growth, unemployment and the welfare crisis in our country.

Hence, we respectfully urge you review reconsider the terms of our relationship in terms of cooperative development, which will improve the working and living conditions of our peoples, and recognize that security and peace are the fruits of justice.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

Whether I agree with Lopez Obrador or not is beside the point.  He articulates a common sentiment about NAFTA that is widely held in Mexico.  Statistically, he received as much of the vote in the last presidential election as Felipe Calderon, and he has by no means gone away.  Even if he is not a candidate for office, or only a candidate for a minor party, his constituency — mostly rural and working class — will matter very much and are ignored by foreign commentators at their own peril.

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