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Total Recall… el Terminator and FeCal

31 May 2008

El Terminator thinks FeCal is “a great leader” though many Mexicans would beg to differ. The Calderon administration is still dithering about whether or not to allow the United States access to military and police records in return for the U.S. government using U.S. funds to buy those Mexican officers the weapons they need to fight drugs (and … many assume… those citizens who don’t buy off on Calderon’s policies… including many of the country’s elected representatives). Even the Spaniard Calderon lets run the government these days is a bit dubious about “Plan Merida.

The U.S. government, being thwarted in its efforts to spend their tax-payer’s money on weapons, wants to spend it propping up corporate farmers. Calderon seems happy to make up the difference.

I don’t see how this will help in the long run, or even in the short term. All it does is undercut the Mexican farmers who haven’t been forced out of business by corporate agriculture in the United States and will convince even more of them to give up. And — of course, you know who will be happy to “loan” the money to buy grain.

I’m not sure what to make of La Prensa’s screaming headline of the day. Everyone knows who buys the shit… maybe he’s asking Ar-nuld to buy more… and keep the economy afloat. Alas, it creates a lot of job openings in the police departments, but it does more for the rural economy than guns or foreign corn imports.

Heck of a job, Felipe!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 31 May 2008 11:09 am

    “I don’t see how this will help in the long run, or even in the short term. All it does is undercut the Mexican farmers who haven’t been forced out of business by corporate agriculture in the United States and will convince even more of them to give up.”

    I would like to see a discussion about what people might think of for ways to help the small Mexican farmer. Here in Vermont, USA, the small farmers and gardeners are “kicking butt”. We are one of the smallest states in USA, but have the largest number of organic dairy farms in the nation. Organic farming, farmer’s markets, and Co-ops are all doing very well.

    How might this translate to Mexico? I don’t know, for now, but in Vermont it seems that the smaller organic farms are the ones making the best money. Corporate farms growing the competetive commodity type products are hanging in or going bankrupt.

    I am hoping that this is a sign of more of the same to come, and in more places.

    Steve Gallagher

  2. 31 May 2008 2:14 pm

    Unfortunately, in the 1990s, the cooperatives that had existed for millenia — and had been given legal recognition in the 1930s as ejidos — were largely broken up into individual plots.

    Where ejidos could cooperatively buy fertilizer, equipment and seed, under the new system, there is pressure on individual farmers to sell out, or otherwise break up what would be a viable agricultural unit into units too small to compete against subsidized foreign imports.

    If the farmer isn’t pressured into selling off his particular plot for housing or other use, he might be encouraged to grow, say, flowers (or marijuana) where there had been enough land for a decent corn or tomato farm under the ejido system.

    If the U.S. really wanted to cut off Mexican immigration, cutting the subsidies for corporate agriculture, including ex-im bank underwriting, would do more than anything else to make Mexican agriculture viable.

  3. Mike S permalink
    31 May 2008 10:27 pm

    I think you are oversimplifying here. Let’s look at the case of Oaxaca. Most land is still communal (even if not ejidal) and there are plenty of community-based commercial initiatives. However, in order to make contracts with buyers one needs to be able to guarantee a certain productivity. Few commercial buyers will go out on a limb and count on buying a small quantity of some product in a politically unstable environment. “Will Santo Domingo deliver this year or will the opposing political party take over the Ayuntamiento again?” Then add to this the difficulty in obtaining credit, an abysmal educational system, massive soil erosion, poor water management, and–worst of all–the efforts at subordinating successful commercial and employment opportunities to short-term, selfish political interests. The current situation here has been created with international, federal and very local contributions and there is plenty of blame to share.

    Still, such initiatives have been possible in certain cases. Indeed, if I’m not mistaken “fair trade” coffee originated in Oaxaca. There is certainly no shortage of gray matter, motivation or hard workers in Oaxaca. I am hopeful about the possibilities of organic farm products will work here, but the situation needs change.

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