Posts

North American Free Trade Agreement
In December 2019, the United States House of Representatives passed the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, ushering in a new paradigm for trade between the three North American countries. In doing so, it ended a 30-year trading period governed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This was a landmark trade deal that George H. W. Bush initiated in 1989 with the passage of the U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement. Negotiations with Mexico ensued, with Canada joining the talks and a conclusion of a deal between the three, signed into force under the administration of Bill Clinton in 1994. With the adoption of the USMCA, the previous agreement has become obsolete. One can now assess the legacy of the North American Free Trade Agreement, though the countries will update and analyze the agreement throughout the next few years as the components of the new deal take effect.

Proponents and Opponents of NAFTA

NAFTA broke ground in neoliberal terms. Free trade principles that Bush, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Regan championed dissolved tariffs and liberalized trade with a focus on the agriculture, textile and automobile industries. Supporters of the deal proclaimed the benefits that the deal would bring, including boosting the trade and economies of the three countries, particularly Mexico’s developing one. They forecasted that Mexicans would find better jobs in Mexico. Therefore, they would stay, rather than immigrating illegally to the United States. Furthermore, NAFTA would benefit U.S. and Canadian companies seeking markets for goods and cheap labor.

There were many arguments against NAFTA from the onset. Critics jeopardized the legacy of the North American Free Trade Agreement before it even started. Headlined by then third-party U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot, opponents claimed that opening the Mexican border to free trade principles would result in what he called a “giant sucking sound” as companies outsourced American jobs to Mexico to seek lower wages.

The Results

With the benefit of hindsight, experts now say that NAFTA had neither as good nor as bad of an impact on the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico as some initially predicted. Like many things, the reality lay in the middle. While trade objectively increased, even tripled by some accounts, American jobs did indeed flee to Mexico. Many left the Midwest and created the so-called Rust Belt. An article published by the Economic Policy Institute details the extent of the losses, contending that 682,900 jobs suffered in the U.S. at NAFTA’s expense. Many of these job losses, 60.8 percent, were in manufacturing. Supporters predicted manufacturing would see an increase of up to two million in five years.

In short, U.S. companies benefited at the detriment of Mexican families. Further, two million Mexican families with previous engagement in farming activities lost their livelihoods. In addition, small businesses closed in the 10s of thousands. Between NAFTA and subsequent free trade deals with countries like Peru, Colombia and some Central American and Caribbean countries, millions experienced displacement from their homes and fled. Many fled to the United States, proving to exacerbate illegal immigration rather than alleviate it. Mexico did see an increase in jobs for a while, especially in the automotive industry, expanding from 120,000 to 550,000 since 1994. However, this has not been nearly enough to offset the harm caused; even when accounting for a boost in trade and considerable improvement in foreign direct investment to Mexico from $15 to $100 billion.

The Potential Future

Overall, companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico benefited in some ways from free trade. Generally, this left a significant legacy of the North American Free Trade Agreement. However, it came at a substantial loss for individuals and worsened existing problems like outsourcing and illegal immigration. The biggest hope for the future lies in the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. The USMCA, agreed to by the three countries, passed with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Ideally, it will right some of the wrongs that NAFTA inflicted, while continuing to promote trade and economic growth in North America.

Alex Meyers
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Poverty in Central America
Recent news has increasingly mentioned the Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and its migration crisis. Each of these countries have economic systems that have similar financial agreements with outside countries. These 10 facts about poverty in Central America will identify issues, solutions and trends that lead back to Central America’s poverty crisis.

10 Facts About Poverty in Central America

  1. The Economy: The political economy of Central America has parallelled that of the world for the past five decades. A combination of factors such as a vulnerable bureaucratic system, a shifting population and aggressive globalization are causing Central America to experience gentrification on a national level, creating more significant gaps between economic classes.
  2. Climate Change: Changes in nature such as unusually warm temperatures, nutrient-poor water and the comeback of the southern pine beetle are occurring throughout the region of Central America. This insect is a result of a change in climate where the ocean temperature rises significantly, placing additional demand on presently strained water reserves.
  3. Population: In the past five decades, Central America’s population has continued to increase with the most considerable change occurring up to the mid-1970s, after which the difference in community numbers became highly sporadic. As the population continues to increase, resources like infrastructure and the economy struggle to match demand. As a result, the levels of poverty and extreme poverty have increased by approximately one percent between 2014 and 2017 and extreme poverty increased two percent between 2014 and 2016. Congresswoman Alicia Barcena mentioned the need for public services such as social security and labor inclusion, and how pairing these resources with increased wages could lessen the amount of poverty.
  4. Legislation: Central American countries are making efforts through previous legislation to alleviate their economic hardships. Since 2004, the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement has promoted stronger trade and stability throughout these regions. FTA reduces the barriers that countries previously had to access U.S. exports. As a result, traded goods all originate between Mexico and Canada with the exceptions of agricultural commodities. These areas give considerable attention to the conditions and the rights of workers in their countries. Countries are currently updating NAFTA to address additional concerns such as how to verify labor standards and eliminate the time restraint on labor violations.
  5. Clean Water Accessibility: Nicaragua is the only country in the region that has substantial access to waterways but the surrounding countries, like Honduras, Guatemala and Peru, do not due to the steep terrain that can make up significant portions of their countries. These collections of water are rarely safe for consumption even if they are accessible. For many households, accessing water is a timely chore that can take hours traveling back and forth between sources of water and homes, and limit people’s ability to attend work or school. For example, around 63 percent of Honduras’ population is living below poverty and those who live in rural areas work as farmers; as a result, their earnings rarely go to education, but rather daily tasks like water collection. To help with water accessibility, Doc Hendley started Wine to Water. Wine to Water is a nonprofit organization that works to bring clean water to underserved communities. It has served over half a million people in over 300 communities, across five continents. To date, it has worked in Honduras within eight communities and aided over 11,000 people.
  6. Literacy: Many regions have limited water supplies that are safe or close in the distance, meaning that in a single day, a trip for a container of water takes several hours. As a region, Central America has lower literacy rates with an average of 79.4, compared to the global average of 83.7. The countries in Central America with the highest literacy rates are Costa Rica and Panama, while the country with the lowest is Guatemala.
  7. The Northern Triangle: The Northern Triangle is a subregion in Central America between El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. These countries have a secure connection with each other economically due to legislation that passed during the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of those changes, however, have had macroeconomic effects on the region leaving large portions of the population enduring unequal access to resources and encouraging many to migrate elsewhere, working against stimulating its economy. The House Committee of Foreign Affairs introduced legislation to address the causes of migration and authorized $577 million in foreign assistance for the years 2020.
  8. Women in Central America: Central American women are facing challenges to raise their economic status while being met with social obstacles. For example, some women in El Salvador meet with sexism, fragile protection and few rights. These challenges, along with limited assets, the possibility of extortion and insufficient education about business management and finances make some businesswomen wary of growing or succeeding with their activities.
  9. Migration: Many people have made efforts to migrate to other countries due to the rising concern of survival. Droughts, economic instability, increased violence between gang members and civilians, corrupt legal systems and a weak government have made daily life challenging.
  10. Violence: The violence in Central America has been on the rise for decades, causing hundreds of thousands of migrants out of the region. Of those who remain in the area, the violence, extortion and corruption are frequent. Legislation such as the Global Fragility Act of 2019 prevents and addresses the primary causes of violence in various countries.

These 10 facts about poverty in Central America emphasize the point that poverty is a broad issue with a number of solutions. While situations in Central America may seem dire, the efforts by nonprofits like Wine to Water and legislation like the Global Fragility Act of 2019 should aid in improving the area’s conditions.

– Kimberly Debnam
Photo: Flickr

How International Trade Benefits Latin American Development
Latin America encompasses the area from Mexico to the southern tip of South America, and consists of 19 sovereign states amidst other territories and dependencies that span two continents.

The region has had a varied and unstable economic history: in 1982, rising oil prices led to the Mexican debt crisis, latin American GDPs began to decline and around 64 million people lived in poverty. In 2010, however, the overall GDP growth rate rose to 5.8 percent. Some of this recent growth can be attributed to various trade agreements adopted by Latin American countries.

From Mercosur to the Pacific Alliance, international trade benefits Latin American development in very significant ways.

Mercosur

Created on March 26, 1991 by the Treaty of Asuncion, Mercosur is a South American economic and political trade bloc that includes four members: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The bloc is a notable example of renewed global interest in regional trade agreements, and the four countries agreed to five terms:

  1. Eliminate customs duties
  2. Adopt a consistent trade policy toward outside countries and blocs
  3. Enforce a 35 percent external tariff on certain imports from outsiders
  4. Coordinate macroeconomic and sectional policies
  5. Abrogate restrictions on reciprocal trade

In addition, people from member countries can apply for a two-year residency with the right to work. This policy benefits immigrants because they can obtain permanent residency as long as they do not have criminal records.

Since 1991, Mercosur has grown intra-bloc trade from $5.1 billion to $58.2 billion while world trade growth was only five-fold. In addition, the bloc acts an essential step in boosting industrial activity; for instance, Argentina and Brazil are the third biggest global markets for automobiles. Through results such as these, Mercosur demonstrates how international trade benefits Latin American development.

NAFTA

In 1994, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which created a trilateral trade bloc in North America. NAFTA’s goal was to integrate Mexico into the highly developed economies of the U.S. and Canada.

NAFTA is the largest free trade agreement in the world. This agreement eliminates tariffs to a large extent, and Mexico abrogates non-tariff barriers and other trade-distorting restrictions. This policy also leads to lower prices on groceries and oil in the U.S. and more exports from Mexico. Regional trade grew from around $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2016.

Although Mexico’s unemployment has risen since then, many experts conclude that its economic performance is affected by non-NAFTA factors, such as devaluation of the peso and competition with China’s low-cost manufacturing sector. Overall, NAFTA has reshaped the trade pattern between these three countries and is one of the ways that international trade benefits Latin American development.

Pacific Alliance

Established in 2011, the Pacific Alliance is a Latin American trade bloc that includes four member countries: Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Its goal is to build a comprehensive trade relationship between its member countries, promote a free flow of capital, goods, people and services, and further expand this relationship to Asia-Pacific trade. Under this agreement, member countries agree to reduce tariffs to 10 percent. This kind of international trade benefits Latin American development.

In 2014, the Alliance signed the Framework Agreement to cut 92 percent of all tariffs and phase out the remaining 8 percent in the coming years. In 2016, the Pacific Alliance accounted for 35 percent of the total GDP of Latin American and the Caribbean. Compared to Mercosur, Pacific Alliance has an even more powerful influence on Latin American economic growth.

The growth in exports of goods and services reached 14.6 percent in 2010, while Mercosur resulted in more than 7 percent growth. All in all, the Alliance stimulates foreign investment in member countries and regulates government intervention in economic affairs.

Global Engagement

These trade agreements are good examples of the effect that international cooperation can have on the economies of developing countries. The continued encouragement of free trade both within Latin America and with other nations will promote growth and opportunities for all of Latin America’s people.

– Judy Lu

Photo: Flickr

Minimum Wage in MexicoThe second round of NAFTA renegotiations closed Sept. 5 with major disagreements between the three countries left unresolved. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has pushed U.S. negotiators to introduce a provision guaranteeing a living wage for all workers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. A higher minimum wage in Mexico would greatly impact the country’s businesses that profit from the cheap labor supply.

Gerardo Gutierrez Candiani, head of Mexico’s special economic zones, told U.S. and Canadian negotiators that Mexico will not adjust its current labor laws. Stricter labor standards is a U.S. priority in the trade renegotiation.

Mexico’s low wages give the country a competitive advantage over its NAFTA trading partners. A higher minimum wage in Mexico could protect U.S. producers by forcing Mexican competitors to raise prices in response to domestic wage increases. The minimum wage in Mexico is 80 pesos a day ($4.50).

Mexican political and corporate leaders support a low minimum wage as a way to encourage businesses to move operations into the country. Corporations located in Mexico can keep production costs low by utilizing the country’s cheap labor supply. These businesses can then undercut their competitors on foreign markets.

Mexico’s automobile industry is the main source of the country’s trade surplus with the U.S. Mexican auto workers earn, on average, $6 an hour while U.S. auto workers earn $28 an hour. Closing the wage gap between the two countries would make U.S. automobile manufacturers more competitive in the international market.

In addition to a higher minimum wage in Mexico, the U.S. is also likely to push for worker protections like the right to unionize and strike. Mexico has some worker protection laws in place, but existing policies are loosely enforced. Workers who push for higher wages or improved conditions by participating in strikes are usually fired. Existing labor unions are ineffective negotiators because leaders are often chosen by political officials through rigged elections.

Opponents to new labor laws fear that rising wages will halt economic development as businesses leave for countries with cheaper labor. They argue that Mexico’s competitive advantage over the U.S. and Canada will disappear naturally as the country undergoes economic growth.

Despite Mexican officials’ resistance, the U.S. remains focused on including better worker standards in the trade pact’s renegotiation. The proposed policy has the potential to significantly improve the standard of living for the average Mexican citizen.

Katherine Parks

Photo: Flickr

Mexican WagesThe U.S., Canada and Mexico began renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on August 16. An updated agreement could result in higher wages for struggling Mexican workers.

One of the main topics of renegotiation is expected to be workers’ rights. Then presidential candidate Donald Trump stated that he desired a new NAFTA for Americans in the Rust Belt – one way to do so is to close the gap between American and Mexican wages.

Signed into law in 1994 by President Bill Clinton, NAFTA lowered trading barriers between North American neighbors and opened the gates to free trade. Many businesses migrated to Mexico as a result.

Soon after, North American consumers experienced increases in their standards of living. Prices of consumer goods depressed due to businesses cutting labor costs via lower Mexican wages.

Lower prices do not paint a complete picture, though, as many blue-collar workers in the U.S. were left without jobs. At the same time, keeping Mexican wages low was in the interest of many manufacturers.

Now, over 20 years later, NAFTA will be renegotiated and the U.S. will have manufacturing on its mind. One way to entice businesses to stay in the U.S. is to impose new labor restrictions in Mexico.

The average wage in Mexico is not even a fifth that of that in the U.S. New labor restrictions could mean higher wages for the average Mexican laborer, who currently lives on $4.50 a day – sometimes less, depending on the area.

There is also the fear that the talks will lead nowhere because what the U.S. wants might not align with the interests of Mexico. Ildefonso Guajardo, a Mexican representative who will be present at the talks, has suggested that, if they are treated unfairly by the U.S., they will return the treatment.

Labor economists have said that the labor reforms that Mexico had previously agreed on during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should be the starting point for the U.S. This is the same partnership from which President Trump just pulled the United States.

Officials believe that NAFTA discussions should be finished by the end of the year if all goes smoothly. Labor reforms would certainly mean good news for Mexican laborers but not-so-good news for consumers who will feel the burden of higher prices.

Thomas James Anania

Photo: Google


Developing countries are paramount to healthy capitalism and add value to existing markets, as well as open up new opportunities for business. Both Mexico and Chile have more potential as current trading partners. NAFTA and the Chile free trade agreement outline the exact details of the relationship between both respective countries and the U.S.

The bilateral relations between Mexico and the U.S. impact the livelihoods of millions of Americans. More than half of the states in the U.S. have Mexico as their first or second-largest export market. Mexico imported $236 billion worth of U.S. products in 2015.

Forty percent of individual parts in Mexican products come from the U.S., and both the U.S. and Mexico benefit from trade by supplying and receiving necessities. Mexico’s purchase of corn amounts to a quarter of total corn that the U.S. exports. Continuing this trade is necessary for both economies, and American farmers say that it is a “beneficial relationship.”

Exports, such as computer and electronic products and fabricated metals, have tripled since free trade was established through NAFTA. Mexico and the U.S. depend on each other’s economies.

Chile is a promising emerging market and has become a major mining country. Recently Barrick and Goldcorp, two major Canadian mining companies, have teamed up to develop one of the largest gold deposits in Chile.

Deals such as this have maintained the growing potential of minerals in the country. Chile has emerged as a viable option for U.S. exports operating in several different industries. Various market reforms give Chile appeal to American markets. Continuous trade will only benefit the U.S., as Chile has a large natural supply of various mining minerals.

Both Mexico and Chile are lucrative developing countries, that with continuous effort, can continue to grow. Aid to both countries will help combat elements of poverty and allow for future business deals with U.S. companies.

Support for both countries enriches U.S. potential internationally. Mexico is currently one of the strongest trading partners for the U.S. and Chile has the potential to become a major market for business, as all exports will enter the country duty-free.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr

Presidential Candidate Jill Stein Equates NAFTA to Global Poverty
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has not shied away from criticizing U.S. foreign policies, which directly spawn global poverty and migration. In her presidential platform, Stein underscores the dangers of trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“People ask me ‘what are you going to do about immigration?’ I say we’re going to stop causing it…through wars and NAFTA, the war on drugs, coups and military interventions…We need to connect the dots,” on U.S. policy, free trade, global poverty, and migration, “People are not stupid. They can and will get it when you make the connections,” voiced Stein.

According to research by the Economic Policy Institute, NAFTA led to a loss of jobs in Mexico, particularly in their agricultural sector, consequently increasing the rate of poverty and illegal immigration to the U.S.

The governments of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. negotiated NAFTA in 1994. Arranged by President George H.W. Bush and implemented under Bill Clinton, the deal created a trilateral trade bloc in North America — barriers to trade investment were gradually eliminated, and as a result, tariffs became inapplicable.

Governments sought to integrate and liberalize trade between the North American countries. U.S. officials promised a growing trade surplus with Mexico, creating hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Yet, more than 20 years later, NAFTA has proved to have the opposite effect; studies show it led to a growing trade deficit owing to the growth of U.S. exports which vastly surpassed imports to Mexico.

Since barriers to trade investment were eliminated, U.S. investments in Mexico escalated; corporate executives could easily cut their expenses by moving their factories to Mexico and paying Mexican workers at a much lower wage, fueling a flood of outsourcing.

As a result, the U.S. experienced a heavy loss in jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that, as of 2010, displaced production could have supported 682,900 U.S. jobs, 60.8 percent of those jobs being in manufacturing industries. This also takes into account the additional jobs created by exports to Mexico.

NAFTA also promised Mexico a growing middle class, yet as a struggling third world country, it experienced a harder economic downfall, particularly in its agriculture sector.

Research backs Jill Stein’s claims that, prior to NAFTA being implemented, tariffs were still very high, helping to protect domestic businesses. For Mexico, corn was a crucial commodity that was protected by tariffs.

NAFTA gradually lifted the tariffs in a 14-year transition to an open market. By 2008, the last tariffs on corn were lifted, thus the U.S. was able to flood Mexico with cheap subsidized corn. As a result, 1.3 million jobs in Mexico’s agricultural sector were lost.

The U.S. has sold tons of cheap corn to Mexico for over a decade now, yet corn originated in Mexico and it’s also the predominant food source that most people depend on, especially for making tortillas. Small farmers made a living from the production of corn, a crucial component of the Mexican economy. Now, many feel helpless without a source of income and the rates of extreme rural poverty in Mexico have therefore increased.

The World Bank, in a 2005 study, found that extreme rural poverty rate was around 37 percent in 1992-4, prior to NAFTA, which jumped to about 52%in 1996-8 after NAFTA took effect.

This could be explained partly due to the 1995 peso crisis, which was set off by the Mexican Government’s sudden devaluation of the peso against the U.S. dollar. Even so, one expert has argued the crises was caused in part because of NAFTA from the wave of speculative foreign investment in Mexico following the agreement.

By 2010, 53 million Mexicans were living in poverty according to the Monterrey Institute of Technology — half the country’s population. This growth of rural poverty from NAFTA, in turn, led to an increase of migration to the U.S. Indigenous people made up 7 percent of Mexican migrants in 1991-3; in 2006-8, they made up 29 percent.

As president, Jill Stein plans to repeal NAFTA and replace it with trade laws that could better benefit local workers and communities. She is calling for an emergency transition of the economy to 100 percent clean renewable energy by 2030. In doing so, she expects to create 20 million good-wage jobs, that are locally controlled and community oriented, giving Americans greater control of their own economic affairs.

“We are creating a community process, so it’s not just a cookie-cutter from Washington D.C., but rather it’s national support for local control, over creating the jobs, the small businesses, workers cooperatives, that are needed in order to make this clean energy green economy transition,” said Stein.

Marcelo Guadiana

Photo: Flickr

Sugar_Support_Program
When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP), the United States’ sugar subsidies may not leave a sweet taste.

Touted by the U.S. government as a deal intended to alleviate barriers to fair trade amongst 12 countries lining the pacific rim, the TPP has met considerable backlash in congress this summer.

Many in Washington on both sides of the aisle have alleged that the TPP is full of deals that favor US corporations in lieu of global interests—especially when it comes to the global sugar market.

As the Obama administration was drafting the TPP, which is said to focus on redoing trade barriers such as tariffs and strict market controls between Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and the US (among others), the sugar lobby was also tightening their hold in Washington.

The sugar support program currently protects the interest of growers in the United States by heavily inflating the costs of domestic sugar. The going world price for sugar is 10.94 cents; the price in the United States is more than double that, at 24.45 cents according to the August 2015 future commodities market.

Logically, this might seem as if it would actually help foreign sugar growers in places such as Mexico. If they are able to sell their cane at a lower price the US should present an readily available market.

Instead, there is a great deal of red tape that surrounds sugar importation into the United States: less and less foreign sugar is allowed to make it into the United States every year, which can spell catastrophe for the exports of developing countries

“Mexico struck a preliminary deal in October to send less sugar to the U.S.,” wrote the Wall Street Journal. “The U.S. is the world’s fourth-largest sugar consumer and relies on its imports, most of which come from Mexico.”

What does this mean for the future of economic development in places like Mexico? As it stands, Mexico produces more sugar than it consumes increasing the necessity of selling the surplus on the global market.

Under the existing agreement, 300,000-to 400,000 tons of sugar sit idly in Mexican storehouses, doing nothing to help spark the Mexican economy. Since the NAFTA regulations were imposed (reaffirming U.S. sugar support) the number of people living in “food poverty in Mexico has grown from 18 million” to 20 million, according to Foreign Policy in Focus.

TPP, in theory, should eliminate the NAFTA tariffs and regulations. In practice, however, the sugar lobby continues to write enormous subsidy-saving checks in Washington.

“We can’t compete with our hands tied,” said mill owner Juan Cortina, who is also the head of Mexico’s sugar chamber. “The United States offers its sector certain benefits and we should have the same. If not there is no level playing field.”

In light of the previous NAFTA agreements, the U.N. has warned that the TPP could “aggravate global poverty” as trade deals worth about $300 billion are negotiated behind closed doors.

Now, in 2015 the doors are open, and the ever-powerful United States sugar lobby is public for everyone to see.

Emma Betuel

Sources: WSJ, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Herald Tribune, Spartanburg Herald Journal, San Diego News, Foreign Policy In Focus, Washington Post
Photo: MOMA

Revolution in Chiapas: An Unstoppable Force
When thinking about poverty and hard times, it’s important to remember that no matter how bad one might think they have it, there are always people around the world who have it worse. One group of people who have to deal with extreme poverty and repression are the indigenous populations in Mexico and Central America.

Many indigenous people are from the state of Chiapas, which contains the largest population of indigenous people and is also the poorest region of the country. For the poorest state to have the most indigenous people is far from a coincidence. They seek to preserve their traditional ways of life and are often discriminated against by their own nation. Battles between the indigenous population and the Mexican state have gone on for decades and unfortunately continue today.

The Zapatista movement (an armed revolutionary group based in Chiapas) began in 1994 and has been in a declared war against the “Mexican state” ever since. During this time, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed between Mexico, the United States, and Canada, which ended up taking many jobs away from local farmers in Mexico while throwing millions into poverty. It also revoked Article 27 of the Mexican constitution which granted land rights to the indigenous. After the article was revoked, these indigenous people were driven off their lands by the government.

While the Chiapas have taken steps to improve the lives of the indigenous population and maintain their fundamental rights, more still needs to be done. A big step forward took place in 2009 when the state adopted the Chiapas-UN Agenda. The deal put a strong focus on improving health and education while also dealing with poverty and the environment. The state amended its constitution in the process. While each president promises to lend a helping to these communities, too often they fall short.

One looks at the indigenous people and it will become obvious that their ideology has never died and the people will always reach for their goal of demolishing deprivation and injustice within Chiapas. Their continued revolutionary ways set an example for the rest of the world that corruption, poverty, injustice, and environmental devastation will not be tolerated as the underdog will continue to push forward until justice is served.

– Taylor Rae Schaefer

Sources: Occupy News Network, United Development Programme
Photo: LibCom