December 30, 2007

It will be interesting to see if the final arrival of full-bore, take-it-like-a-man free trade in corn after Jan 1 will indeed produce widespread unrest in Mexico, or just wider and more intense poverty and misery.

couple of different stories:

The organization really has a catchy name in
this protest.

Mexico, Dec 29 (Prensa Latina) On January 1, Mexican farmers and social groups will make a human wall on the border checkpoint in Ciudad Juarez to protest against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"That human wall will be built on the Cordoba-Americas International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, state of Chihuahua, to criticize the NAFTA stage on agricultural sectors, national producers and consumers," the Farmers' Democratic Front said.

The organization, which is a member of the National Campaign in Defense of Food Sovereignty and the Reactivation of Mexican Countryside, made up of more than 300 groups, demanded the immediate derogation of the measure to prevent hunger in Mexico.

Final stage of NAFTA prompts Mexican farmers to rattle scythes: "At least one peasant group has said the NAFTA expansion could spark armed rebellion in the countryside if President Felipe Calderón's government doesn't do more to protect small farmers.

Corn and beans were considered especially sensitive to the Mexican economy when the United States, Canada and Mexico signed NAFTA in 1993, and officials buffered them with 15 years of gradually dwindling protections.

Government officials insist that the Jan. 1 opening is largely symbolic because corn and bean tariffs mostly have been phased in already.

NAFTA supporters in Mexico say protesters are exaggerating the effect in an at tempt to wrest more aid from the government.

'It's an important date because it marks the end of the process,' said Luis de la Calle, a Mexico City economist who helped negotiate the original agreement in the early 1990s. 'But in terms of the market, there will be very little impact.'

But members of Mexico's left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party the second-largest party in Congress, have called on Calderón to renegotiate the final opening and remove corn and beans from the list of unprotected trade goods.

Calderón, however, has shown no inclination to tinker with the agreement.

José Romero, a NAFTA expert at the College of Mexico, said, "The government is scared of renegotiating (corn and bean tariffs) because renegotiating part could mean renegotiating the whole thing. And they worry renegotiating could send bad signals to international financial markets."

Mexican farm associations contend that their farmers are woefully unprepared to face an onslaught of U.S. corn and they decry the large subsidies that U.S. corn farmers receive.

In December, the World Trade Organization launched an investigation into whether the U.S. has surpassed international limits on so-called trade distorting subsidies for its farmers by billions of dollars since 1999.

U.S. farmers are far more productive than their Mexican counterparts.

According to the Mexican Institute of Competition, U.S. farms produce an average of 22 tons of corn an acre, compared with 6 tons in Mexico.

Cruz López, president of Mexico's National Farmers Confederation, said domestic corn producers fear they will go out of business, unable to compete with American imports, and leave Mexico reliant on the U.S. for its basic food needs.

"There is an abyss between the (subsidies) that we receive and those of the Canadian and U.S. farmers," he said. "For us, it is very important to guarantee to the Mexican people that we can produce corn and beans."

Mexico imports about 10 million tons of corn annually, adding to the 22 million tons it produces domestically."

That is the US:

This is Mexico:

No comments: