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“These things are connected”

16 March 2007

 It’s easy to see why so many of us who look at Latin American issues are assumed to be some knee-jerk follower of Noam Chomsky.  Somehow I don’t think I’m ready to join a movement led by linguistics professor.  And, I’m not… it’s just that Chomsky and a lot of us come to the same conclusions about Latin American economic/social issues.  

Chomsky aruges the same conditions (and causes) exist elsewhere in the world, but this is the Mex Files, so I’ll just quote the relevent section for his longer interview by Sameer Dosani on “War, Neoliberalism and Empire in the 21st Century”, printed in Counterpunch.

… why is there a vast increase in illegal immigration from Mexico in recent years? It’s partly the predicted effects of NAFTA. If you …flood Mexico with U.S. agribusiness exports, which are highly subsidized–that’s how they get their profits–then Mexican farmers aren’t going to be able to compete. Then comes the economists’ theory, you know, turn from producing corn and beans and rice to producing flowers and [other] export crops, and you have the mode I described, and people can’t survive. So there’s a flight of people from the countryside to the cities where there are no jobs because Mexican businesses can’t compete with U.S. multinationals, which are given enormous advantages under the mislabeled trade agreements. And yes, you get a flight of population [across the border]. The price of tortillas, you know, the basic food for the poor, it’s gone out of sight, people can’t pay for it. If you’re growing your own food, you can manage, or if there’s a subsistence agriculture, yeah, you can kind of manage, but not when you abandon it.

Remember that when NAFTA was enacted in 1994, another policy was enacted. In 1994, Clinton militarized the border in Operation Gatekeeper. Now previously, that had been a pretty open border. The border, of course, was established by conquest, like most borders. And there were similar people on both sides, people who would cross the border to visit their friends and relatives and that sort of thing. Now the border was militarized in 1994. OK, maybe it’s a coincidence, more likely I think it’s because the Clinton administration understood that their glowing predictions [about the benefits of NAFTA] were for propaganda, and that the likelihood was that there would be effects in Mexico which would lead to substantial flight, immigration, joined by people fleeing the wreckage of Central America after Reagan’s terrorist wars there. And yes, now you have what they call an immigration crisis. These things are connected, you can’t look at them in isolation.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 March 2007 8:29 pm

    es la verdad.

    and what else happened right around then? hmm…

    “In early January of 1994, the story from Chiapas and the photos of Zapatistas were accompanied by the following headline in the San Francisco Examiner: “Roots of Rebellion: Poverty and Oppression.” What could have provoked this sudden outburst of political truth on the front page? Somehow, it seemed, a popular uprising in Mexico was commanding center stage in a sympathetic light. From here, it seemed like a glimmer of hope.”

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  1. This is the end, my friend. This is the end… « The Mex Files

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