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Trump Is Trying to Make NAFTA Even Worse

NOVANEWS
 

Featured image: A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Logo. (Source: Nicoguaro / Wikimedia Commons)

First published by GR in July 2017

Many on the Left have been deeply critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) since before it was fast-tracked into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. Now, President Donald Trump’s current plan to renegotiate NAFTA is poised to make the massive trade deal even worse.

In late May, a loose coalition of civil society groups gathered in Mexico City to discuss this upcoming renegotiation. Participants included the AFL-CIO, Canadian Labour Congress and over one hundred other labour, environmental, and immigrant rights organizations from across Mexico, the United States and Canada. The meeting produced a joint declaration opposing a Trump-led NAFTA renegotiation and marked the kickoff of the latest international campaign against free-trade deals that benefit corporations and political elites at the expense of workers, communities and our shared environment.

NAFTA’s legacy is marred by lost jobs, lower wages, increased inequality and a litany of environmentally destructive practices. While the people who gathered in Mexico City have long opposed NAFTA for its pro-corporate bent, a consensus emerged that President Trump and his team are cooking up something even worse.

Two questions follow from this judgment: What can we do to stop Trump, and how can we use the moment to challenge the powerful interests that he represents?

The Dangers of a Trump-led Renegotiation

Trump campaigned and won the U.S. presidential election in no small part due to his anti-free-trade positions. He galvanized millions of voters for whom the considerable promises of globalization have long since given way to the stark realities of rising inequality and declining living standards.

After assuming the presidency, Trump decided it was politically necessary to kill off the wildly neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to appease his popular base. This decision was met with dismay by nearly all big corporations and elites from both political parties.

But now, in an act of political judo, Trump is trying to use the same anti-establishment, pro-American rhetoric from his campaign to craft a neoliberal NAFTA renegotiation that will include everything demanded in the recently scuttled TPP – and more. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as others in Trump’s administration, have been surprisingly straightforward about these intentions.

Source: Socialist Project

Formal notice of the intent to renegotiate was submitted to Congress on May 18. Following an obligatory 90-day “consultation period,” negotiations are expected to commence in the second half of August. A draft list of the Trump administration’s priorities, submitted to Congress in late March, gives us a window into what we should expect.

A Trump-led renegotiation will mean a strengthening of heinous Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms, which allow corporations to sue governments that “infringe” on profit-making opportunities, for example, by daring to introduce anti-tobacco legislation. It will mean stronger copyright and intellectual property laws, in case you’re not already spending enough on your medications. It will also mean further privatization of the internet, greater corporate control of e-commerce, and most likely a new broadside against net neutrality.

Meanwhile, “investor incentives” will increase the liberalization of capital flows and lead to the offshoring of many thousands of jobs, in the ongoing global race to find the most exploitative labour conditions possible. And, of course, this ceremony will be sealed with the ritual sacrifice of labour, human rights and environmental regulations in each of the three signatory countries.

And let us not forget that, while the TPP accounted for 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, NAFTA still represents approximately 25 per cent. In 1994, NAFTA set the standard for two decades of terrible international trade agreements, and power brokers across the world hope this renegotiation will restore business as usual and set a new standard for decades to come.

Given the power of the United States vis-à-vis its negotiating partners, this panorama might at first glance appear depressing. But we also should not forget the insurgent campaign of Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders, which brought together millions of people in opposition to these types of free trade deals. While there are major differences between Trump and Sanders voters, there is real agreement that these corporate-led deals are bad for ordinary people.

Herein lies a real political opportunity that absolutely terrifies elites on both sides of the aisle. Around the NAFTA renegotiation there exists a genuine possibility, in an otherwise badly fractured political landscape, for a bipartisan consensus against corporate and elite power.

Throwing Sand in the Gears

Knowing that the renegotiation of NAFTA may well die at the ballot box – just as TPP and TTIP were killed off by popular demand in the past year – the main goal for its proponents is to conclude talks as quickly as possible. This has been stated clearly by lead trade representatives in each of the three countries. Now, the first major challenge comes not from the United States, but from Mexico.

Mexican general elections are scheduled for July 2018, with primaries and the accompanying political jockeying beginning this fall. With President Enrique Peña Nieto’s approval ratings sinking below 20 per cent, the position of his “institutional revolutionary” PRI, which has dominated Mexican politics for nearly 100 years, is considered vulnerable.

The early frontrunner for the upcoming presidential race, popular former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has staked out a populist, anti-establishment position that places greater emphasis on labour and environmental rights, as well as national sovereignty. As his campaign advances, he is widely expected to take aim at a U.S.-led NAFTA renegotiation as a winning political wedge issue.

In this context, progressive groups opposed to a corporate-led NAFTA renegotiation must adopt the same strategy that was so successful in the battle against the TPP: throwing sand in the gears. While it was Trump who dealt the TPP its death blow, it was the hard work of progressive civil society that shed light on this secretive deal, slowed its advance and ultimately entangled it in the 2016 election – correctly anticipating that popular consensus would reject the agreement.

In Mexico, this aim can be achieved by emphasizing Trump’s calls to “build the wall,” as well as his racist characterizations of Mexicans as rapists, criminals and job stealers. It can be done by pounding the suddenly-vulnerable Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as a bunch of robber-baron elites who are looking for one last score before they are flushed from power.

In Canada, a similar strategy can be pursued by emphasizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s tendencies towards a politics of symbolic resistance and substantive acquiescence. In this style of governance there exists a gap that civil society can exploit. Trudeau very much values his carefully cultivated public image, but Canadians have seen the material impacts of NAFTA on their country, and they now oppose the deal by a four-to-one margin.

In the United States, at least for now, the focus should be on the tremendous lack of transparency that has characterized early negotiations. 500 corporate trade advisors and TPP veterans are being actively consulted, while labour and civil society organizations remain completely shut out of the process. And of course, there is the historically unpopular figure of Trump himself.

As Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, has argued:

“Trump’s conflicts of interest and self-dealing opportunities with NAFTA renegotiation are not hypothetical; the sprawling Trump business empire has 14 Canadian and two Mexican investments. Some of Trump’s clothing line is made in Mexico. Trump won’t divest his business holdings or release his tax returns, so unless he reveals his full Mexican and Canadian business dealings, we won’t even know in whose interest these NAFTA talks are being conducted.”

Forging a New Progressive Consensus

These are some of the early strategic lines for opposing NAFTA and contesting a Trump-led renegotiation. But to build a more integral politics beyond mere opposition, it behooves us to go a step further. If you accept the argument that trade policy could become a fertile terrain for growing new coalitions, it is only by articulating positive alternatives that we will be able to make these coalitions take root.

We must begin with a political frame that creates space for Trump’s supporters without making any concessions around the xenophobic rhetoric that the President has thus far employed. This is not about Mexicans, or anybody else, stealing U.S. jobs. It is rather about big corporations and political elites excluding the rest of us – from all three countries – from our fair share of the pie.

To create this broad space for political convergence, we must demand an open consultation process. This requires that labour and climate justice groups, rank-and-file workers, immigrants, farmworkers, and small and mid-sized business owners have an opportunity to weigh in with their concerns. In addition to these formal consultations, civil society should help to amplify these voices of concern through people’s tribunals and other public hearings. And this input should form the basis of an alternative vision for cooperation between the three countries.

We should not meekly request that NAFTA’s unenforceable side agreements on labour and environmental standards be strengthened around the edges. Rather, we must demand that worker and climate justice in all three countries be built into the foundations of all subsequent commercial agreements.

In addition, we must call for the deeply unpopular ISDS mechanisms to be either eliminated or opened up so that community groups, individuals and governments can bring lawsuits against corporations for labour and environmental malfeasance. Consumer protection must replace corporate interests as the principal factor in the renegotiation of intellectual property laws, as well as the coming regulation of e-commerce. Investor incentives should be vanquished, and instead of simply requesting that we “buy (corporate) American,” we should demand that all three countries “buy union,” that they buy sustainably, and that they support local, social and solidarity economies when possible.

Prominent labourfair trade and environmental groups have outlined these and other demands in great detail. Crucially, these proposals are broadly popular with the majority of people in all three countries. The upcoming NAFTA fight thus presents an opportunity to deal a blow to Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and neoliberal blueprint – and to begin the hard work of forging a new progressive consensus.

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NAFTA Is 23 Years Old – Here Are 20 Facts That Show How It Is Destroying The Economy

NOVANEWS

So if NAFTA is so bad for American workers, then why don’t our politicians just repeal it?

Well, unfortunately most of them are not willing to do this because it is part of a larger agenda.  For decades, politicians from both major political parties have been working to slowly integrate North America.  The eventual goal is to turn North America into another version of the European Union.

Just check out what former general and CIA chief David Petraeus had to say about this

After America comes North America,” Petraeus said confidently in answering the question about what comes after the United States, the theme of the panel discussion. “Are we on the threshold of the North American decade, question mark? I threw that away — threw away the question mark — and boldly proclaimed the coming North American decade, says the title now.” He also boasted about how the three economies have been put “together” over the last 20 years as part of the “implementation” of the North American Free Trade Act.

The “highly integrated” forces of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, Petraeus continued, will become the world’s powerhouse for energy and science. “There are four revolutions that are ongoing at various levels in each of the countries but foremost in the United States,” said the former CIA chief, who now serves as chairman of the KKR Global Institute. “The energy revolution is the first of those, which has created the biggest change in geopolitics since the rise of China since 1978.” The other “revolutions” include IT, manufacturing, and life sciences, which, “as highly integrated as they are, allow you to argue that after America comes North America,” he added.

When you hear our politicians talk about “free trade”, what they are really talking about is integrating us even further into the emerging one world economic system.  And over the past couple of years, Barack Obama has been negotiating a secret treaty which would send the deindustrialization of America into overdrive.  The formal name of this secret agreement is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it would ultimately result in millions more good jobs being sent to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  The following is a description of this insidious treaty from one of my previous articles

Did you know that the Obama administration is negotiating a super secret “trade agreement” that is so sensitive that he isn’t even allowing members of Congress to see it?  The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being called the “NAFTA of the Pacific” and “NAFTA on steroids”, but the truth is that it is so much more than just a trade agreement.  This treaty has 29 chapters, but only 5 of them have to do with trade.  Most Americans don’t realize this, but this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, health care, the trading of derivatives, copyright issues, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  It will also merge the United States far more deeply into the emerging one world economic system.  Initially, twelve nations will be a party to this treaty including the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  Together, those nations represent approximately 40 percent of global GDP.  It is hoped that additional nations such as the Philippines, Thailand and Colombia will join the treaty later on.

Unfortunately, most Americans are as uneducated about these issues as they were back in 1994.

That is why we need to get this information out to as many people as we can.

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on NAFTA Is 23 Years Old – Here Are 20 Facts That Show How It Is Destroying The Economy

Trumping NAFTA: Free Trade versus Democratic Planning

First published by Global Research on July 20, 2017

Opposition to ‘free trade’ is in the air again, though not in the way most of us expected or hoped. Three decades ago, the move to guarantee, extend and deepen Canada’s economic integration with the United States by way of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two states mobilized an impressive though ultimately unsuccessful opposition. This opposition continued, though with less intensity, when that agreement was later extended to include Mexico via the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Since then, however, with so many other free trade agreements (taking these first ones as their foundational model) deployed as key political levers in fostering neoliberal globalization, NAFTA came to be widely perceived by labour and the left in Canada as just another part of an unfriendly landscape, as one imposition among so many others passively accepted by a dispirited populace. And even when Canadians managed to raise their spirits in the course of finally banishing Harper’s somber moods in favour of Trudeau’s sunny ways, they soon found that the new government was even more intent on quickly seeing through the vast expansion of ‘free trade’ through the trans-Atlantic Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) as well as reinforcing Harper’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and a host of bilateral trade agreements being pursued in Asia in particular.

The crucial point about so-called free trade agreements is that they are not in fact primarily about trade, but about the free flow of corporate and financial investment through promoting and protecting the property rights of capital (as with the so-called FIPAs, or Foreign Investment and Protection Agreements, of which Canada has dozens). In the case of NAFTA, its most crucial provisions are contained in the notorious Chapter 11 which addresses the security of foreign investments. It gives private corporations the right to sue governments when their actions negatively affect corporate profits. In many of these cases, governments were already anxious to play this role but were limited by popular opposition. With such clauses, governments could do what they wanted to do anyway and blame the agreement – ‘We have no choice’. In that sense, it is not state sovereignty that is lost (states are in fact freer to serve capital) but the popular sovereignty/democracy of workers and communities to control capital movements. A CCPA Research Paper published in January 2015 captured very well what this meant for Canada:

Image result for eli lilly

“Currently, Canada faces nine active ISDS [investor state dispute settlement] claims challenging a wide range of government measures that allegedly interfere with the expected profitability of foreign investments. Foreign investors are seeking over $6-billion in damages from the Canadian government. These include challenges to a ban on fracking by the Quebec provincial government (Lone Pine); a decision by a Canadian federal court to invalidate a pharmaceutical patent on the basis that it was not sufficiently innovative or useful (Eli Lilly); provisions to promote the rapid adoption of renewable energies (Mesa); a moratorium on offshore wind projects in Lake Ontario (Windstream); and the decision to block a controversial mega-quarry in Nova Scotia (Clayton/Bilcon). Canada has already lost or settled six claims, paid out damages totaling over $170-million and incurred tens of millions more in legal costs. Mexico has lost five cases and paid damages of US$204-million. The U.S. has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case.”

More generally, and especially in the context of the growing unpopularity of neoliberalism and austerity, these types of agreements have been accompanied by a restructuring of states which, to the end of protecting corporate rights, shifts state power toward agencies like central banks and ministries of finance that are responsible for the globalization of capital and not coincidentally well-insulated from democratic pressures. Frequently sold under the banners of “regulatory independence” and “good governance,” it is this which allows for crucial commitments to restrict social and economic policies to be made by trade representatives at the international level. In this context, such environmental or labour ‘safeguards’ that were added by them as ‘side agreements’ did very little to slow down a process that was inherently socially regressive.

A New Conjuncture

Then the unforeseen happened. Britain voted to leave the European Union (Brexit) and Donald Trump, adopting a xenophobic ‘America First’ platform, stunningly became president of the world’s foremost economic and military power. In this new international conjuncture, the Canadian government’s orientation to expanding ‘free trade’ became problematic. Suddenly the cons as well as the pros of free trade were being widely debated again.

The difference between the earlier opposition to free trade and its current expressions couldn’t be greater. Prior opposition was led by the left, with such political reverberations in Canada that the Liberals stood against the FTA in the 1988 election. Today – while the frustrations with free trade are still expressed in the streets in the inchoate mass protests that have stretched from Seattle, Quebec City, and Genoa at the turn of the century to the G20 meetings in Toronto in 2012 and in Hamburg this summer – the political opposition to free trade in the electoral arena has been usurped by the far right. One result has been confusion and division among progressives. Many are today wary of outright criticism of free trade, fearing this will aid and abet nationalist and xenophobic reaction. This has led to muted opposition to freer trade or to qualified support, the caveat being the extending of the safeguards previously tacked on to protect labour rights, the environment, democratic sovereignty, and jobs in particular sectors (as in Canada from the auto industry in Ontario to the lumber industry in British Columbia).

The political dangers that come with this right wing nationalist reaction, above all in the grave consequences that can follow scape-goating immigrants and foreign workers, are indeed severe. And it is crucial to recognize the broader negative impacts on workers and public services that would come from the kinds of modifications in trade agreements that would symbolically salvage a few plants while promoting even greater deregulation of both foreign and domestic capitalists. But it is important that such concerns not lead to support for an allegedly ‘kinder’ version of free trade amidst neoliberal globalization. This would in fact only further the continuation of the now two-generation-long defeat of labour and the left. It’s been that orientation on the part of liberal and social democratic forces over the past quarter century, reflecting a depressing combination of political naivety and strategic timidity, that in fact opened the way for the Farages, Le Pens, and Trumps to deploy xenophobic appeals to express popular anxieties.

For many on the left, this moment is to be understood as reflecting some kind of fundamental crisis in neoliberal capitalism. They view the anti-free trade rhetoric – especially that coming from the new American president and his extreme advisors – as reflecting the economic decline of the U.S. empire, the retreat of its state from global economic responsibilities, and the possible collapse of globalization itself. Yet the underlying dynamics of internationally integrated finance, production, and multinational corporate trade in fact still continue, with working classes everywhere showing all too little capacity to undermine their operation. China may more confidently assert its growing weight within the global order, but it clearly has little capacity, especially with its own internal contradictions to deal with, to assume the U.S. role and responsibilities for overseeing global capitalism. Globalization may briefly slow down and suffer a loss of legitimacy, but it is the historical form that capitalism now embodies and will remain the only game in town absent widespread political challenges to capitalism itself.

It is worthwhile in this regard to more precisely contrast the orientation of the Trump administration with its predecessors. In the post-war making of global capitalism, the American state found it necessary to make concessions to other states. Sometimes, as with South Korea and Japan, this was for geopolitical reasons and took the form of allowing them access to the crucial American market without a matching opening of their own markets. More common was the use of American concessions to induce states to liberalize their economies to international penetration. Those trade-offs negatively affected some American firms and sectors – and especially their workers and the cities and towns where they were located. This led to some protectionist lobbying (protectionist sentiments are, after all, hardly anything new in the U.S.), in order to maintain its universalist thrust toward a liberalized international order, the American state acted to limit their impact. It won the right to fast-track trade agreements, with Congress having to accept or reject them through a simple up or down vote in a relatively short time horizon, thus avoiding amendments for particular exceptions that disturbed their essential purpose. It established institutional channels for arbitrating grievances whereby workers and firms had to prove that any harm they suffered was the direct result of free trade, channeling frustrations into securing, at best, some financial compensation or temporary import reprieve. And all the while, it used the domestic pressures for protectionism as a lever to get other states to further open their markets, thereby strengthening rather than weakening the neoliberalization of global capitalism.

What distinguishes the Trump administration in this regard is that rather than circumventing particularistic protectionist claims articulated in Congress, it is itself making such claims on behalf of certain American workers and industries. Its expressed determination is to claw back concessions previous administrations made in order to draw other countries into the American-led global neoliberal order, and to make others bear the burden of the contradictions which that order has systematically generated. While NAFTA led to a massive flood of subsidized U.S. agribusiness corn exports that drove the Mexican peasantry off the land, this also had the effect of both providing a cheap labour force for the subsidiaries of U.S. manufacturing moving to Mexico and impelling the flow of Mexican migrants to become cheap labour in the USA. That they became the targets of Trumps xenophobic appeal to workers which U.S. manufacturing firms had abandoned in the industrial ‘rust belt’ was only the most glaring example of how the contradictions of NAFTA have now come to play into the hands of a capitalist scoundrel like Trump. But a further consequence of this may be that it undermines the legitimacy of free trade within other states. In the case of the Canadian state, for example, an especially important selling point in selling free trade agreements was the argument that they would protect Canadian capital from the politicization and arbitrariness of American trade decisions. This was never all that convincing to Canadians; Trump’s call for renegotiating NAFTA to assert ‘America First’ seems to confirm that earlier skepticism.

Image result for NAFTA

It is not completely certain what Trump and his closest advisors fully intend with their planned redoing of NAFTA and the attendant rejection of other multilateral free trade agreements. But we can be sure that rather than any attempted unravelling of globalization and the leading role of the U.S. in it, it will involve a mix of further advantages for American investors in different sectors, such as the internet and e-commerce, extending intellectual and property rights, and challenging existing regulatory limits to corporate penetration, along with efforts to further strengthen the reach of the Chapter 11 ISDS tribunals. What is also clear is that, even while the Trump administration demagogically promises to bring work to certain pockets of U.S. workers, it has no intention of cutting off U.S. capital from global or regional value chains. Rather, it seeks to strengthen the reach and power of U.S. capital globally. The central contradiction here is that the reconfiguration of the institutions of the American state under Trump, not to mention its international posture, may render it incapable of playing the central role it has heretofore played in containing the tendencies to economic as well as ecological crises which the system of global capitalism continually spawns.

Reframing the Debate

The fundamental task of the left is to reframe the debate, all the while engaging in ongoing collective efforts to challenge the expansion of ‘free trade’ and the structures that underpin it. This means going beyond our past opposition to free trade agreements. The problem during the years of the “anti-globalization” movement, and the lesson we must confront now, is that simply blocking another such agreement – as important as that is – doesn’t address the underlying trajectory of global capitalism’s determined expansion and penetration into all aspects of our lives.

An important recent CCPA paper by Pierre Laliberté and Scott Sinclair (What is the NAFTA Advantage?) has put forward a left case for Canada leaving NAFTA. While not suggesting there are “no costs to leaving NAFTA,” by concentrating only on demonstrating this might only entail an overall 1.5% tariff hike, they feel able to propose that “we collectively approach the whole renegotiation process with the knowledge that the cost of the worst-case scenario would be modest, and that Canada has more latitude than is often appreciated to stand its ground and assert its national interests in the coming negotiations.”

However, any discussion of the costs of leaving NAFTA requires consideration of much more than the level of overall tariff costs. The real problem is the private profit-based restructuring of workplaces and communities by both international and domestic corporations and financiers. The kind of international competition this is specifically designed to foster among workers weakens solidarity at home and abroad while undermining the very meaning of popular democracy and curtailing struggles for economic democracy. It would, in this respect, be an error to underestimate the challenge that curtailing the ever deeper degree of Canadian inter-dependence with U.S. capitalism presents, or the protections that internationalizing Canadian capital also seeks from FTAs and ISDS processes.

Certain strategic conclusions follow from this. First, we need to shift the Canadian economy in a more inward-oriented direction. This doesn’t mean rejecting any involvement in trade, but it does mean diminishing the chase for export of capital and goods and finding local and national mechanisms that block the internationalization of capital and contain global value chains. This especially applies to moving away from the extreme integration of the Canadian economy with that of the U.S., and it equally applies to its corporations and financial institutions as well as to those of the Canadian federal and provincial states.

Second, any such reorientation must address struggles over the state. Protests and advocacy can only get us so far. However militant, they have failed to reorient states away from neoliberal policies or even to check the power of corporations within the existing neoliberal frameworks. The shift from protest to politics we have seen on the left with the rise of new parties like Syriza and Podemos and the insurgencies in old ones like those led by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders reflects a growing recognition that to protect both workers and the environment requires engaging in such effective electoral channels as are still available at the national level of the nation state since there is no possibility of democratic control at the international level, nor of effective resistance to market pressures locally. The necessary break with existing international trade agreements can only occur with a rupture in the neoliberal state – its political alignments, policies, personnel, and institutions.

Third, we must move toward democratic planning. This must be a two-tracked strategy. It means building workers’ struggles in workplaces and in communities for control over investments in infrastructures and plants and the flows of surplus capital and profits. And it means, if these struggles are at all to be successful, directly struggling over – and entering – the state with an orientation to transforming its institutions and building the capacities to allow for the democratic transformation of the economy, with all this necessarily means in terms of transforming social relations. Only the democratic planning of what is invested, where it is invested, and how it is invested will allow for an escape from the unceasing narrowing of democracy to serving ‘competitiveness’ and the scourges of constant job insecurity, obscene growth in inequality, and aggravation of the environmental crisis that comes with it.

The focal points of democratic planning would be stable and better jobs, steadily improving social services, redistribution of income and wealth, and an ecological transformation to responsible and sustainable production for use not exchange. These are all interrelated. Only planning can possibly deal with the ever greater threats to the environment, since countering this requires a fundamental reorientation of the economy that must include the planned conversion of workplaces, homes, and infrastructure. This, in turn, requires a ‘jobs agenda’ addressed to doing useful and rewarding work for adequate pay, in addition to social programs to fairly address the educational, occupational, and geographic transitions involved in this. But for all this to be possible such planning must be based on democratic public control over the investment of capital, both international and domestic – which is precisely what multilateral and bilateral capitalist trade agreements are above all designed to prevent.

This emphasis on democratic planning at the level of nation state, envisioning a more inward-oriented, ecologically-balanced and socially-solidaristic economy, may strike some as uncomfortably ‘nationalistic’. We certainly cannot be oblivious to the need for international cooperation among states to make capital controls and the democratic decisions over investment effective. But to imagine getting to some abstract internationalism without prior change at the national level is delusional. It is only as each society develops this kind of democratic planning foundation that a new internationalism becomes feasible. Transforming the state at the national level remains the essential base for rejecting the dog-eat-dog world of global capitalism and developing the kind of internationalism that allows for a planned complementarity of trade between economies, and the solidaristic sharing of skills, resources, and technologies.

None of this denies the importance of joining with other progressive movements and allies in Canada, as well as the U.S. and Mexico, to call for an end to NAFTA and working to undo CETA as well as the TPP that the Trudeau government has championed as part of Canada’s unqualified support for ‘free trade’. This will require joint campaigns, in Canada and across all three countries, for abrogation of the Chapter 11 investor protections (and FIPAs more generally) in order to expand popular sovereignty in controlling the socially and ecologically destructive actions of international capital. Similar national and international campaigns need to be taken up in other areas as well, such as the protection of freshwater from bulk water exports, privatization, fracking and effluent discharges. It also requires challenging the Trudeau government’s groveling to accommodate the demands of the Trump administration for military spending increases and NATO interventions in order to assuage the U.S. president on the trade front. Any break from NAFTA that Mexico proposes, which will be led by the Mexican left, must be met with solidarity from Canadian workers and movements against the opposition and sabotage that would inevitably come from both American and Canadian capital.

That socialists today don’t now have anywhere near the collective power to seriously engage in democratic planning isn’t a reason to despair. It is rather a matter of explicitly recognizing that the key issue for us is not the contradictions in the workings of capitalism but in our collective failure to organize ourselves to build that requisite capacity. This isn’t a matter of setting immediate issues like confronting NAFTA aside. It is a matter of emphasizing that in opposing all such international treaties that place corporate rights and freedoms above all others, we consistently place such opposition in the larger context of challenging capitalism, and then get on with the most ambitious organizational task of building the capacities and institutions adequate for engaging in that longer term battle.

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Mexican Workers March in Protest at NAFTA Renegotiations

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  • NAFTA has frequently been criticized by labor activists for reportedly lowering wages, hurting agriculture profits and eliminating workplace protections across North America.
    NAFTA has frequently been criticized by labor activists for reportedly lowering wages, hurting agriculture profits and eliminating workplace protections across North America. | Photo: EFE
Trade unions believe they have a right to know the terms and conditions of the NAFTA renegotiations, which they claim are inaccessible.

Mexican workers representing broad sections of their country’s labor force are marching in Mexico City against renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

RELATED: NAFTA Renegotiation Talks Arrive Amid Diverging Interests, Neoliberal Goals

The National Association of Farmers Marketing Companies called on all social sectors to participate, labeling diplomatic sessions held in Washington this week to change the tri-national trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States an “undemocratic process.”

Protesters representing the National Union of Workers, the Union of Telephone Operators of the Mexican Republic, the Union of Workers of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National Guild of Education Workers and the Mexican Electricians Union began demonstrations at 10 a.m. local time.

The labor groups are pushing for “a new cooperation and complementarity agreement.”

Demonstrators were seen holding signs bearing the words “The TLC (NAFTA) hurts you, Mexico is better without the TLC” as they marched towards the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Trade union leaders said they have a right to know the terms and conditions of the NAFTA renegotiations, claiming that they are not properly represented by the Confederation of Mexican Workers and the Labor Congress.

Mexican Senator Marcela Guerra Castillo, however, claimed her country will ensure that Mexican workers will be represented in the first round of NAFTA renegotiations.

“Mexican interests and workers’ rights must be put before the benefits of the commercial agreement directly benefit society, above any other interest, whether private or group,” Guerra Castillo said.

NAFTA has frequently been criticized by labor activists for reportedly lowering wages, hurting agriculture profits and eliminating workplace protections across North America.

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Mexican Oligarchs And Other Nations Need To Fix Own Economy And Stop Dumping People On USA

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Image result for Mexican FLAG

Americans must demand that the super wealthy oligarchs of foreign nations like Mexico dumping their people illegally into the USA must be held accountable for the destruction that they wreak, not just the poor people who have no choice but to flee.

The very sad news emanating out of San Antonio Texas today relates to a semi-tractor trailer filled to the brim with scores of illegal aliens from Mexico who literally died from heat exposure where their heart rates were reported to be over 130 beats per minute and their bodies were “hot to the touch” as reported by Texas law enforcement.

How is this possible?

Why do we read stories countless times per year about countries such as China, Vietnam, Mexico, or other nations having people who would literally risk death and dismemberment to illegally cross over their borders/shores to enter the United States and Europe?

While countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen have an immediate excuse in that their countries were recently bombed to demolition by the evil forces behind NATO and other greedy Western Intelligence agencies who wanted to stunt those countries’ growth, movement toward sovereign non-IMF/World Bank currencies, or to topple their duly elected sovereign leaders, what excuse does Mexico and other nations, not having been immediately attacked or demoted by the Western nations have?

The answer is no excuse, whatsoever.

Mexico, for example, is literally loaded to the brim with cash – much of it ill-gotten gains from their massive illegal opioid, cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, crystal meth, and painkiller trade – but also the vast majority of their economy is in the legal trade such as through coffee, avocados, produce, building materials, minerals, aerospace, electronics, food, beverages, tobacco, chemicals, iron, steel, petroleum, mining, textiles, clothing, motor vehicles, consumer durables, and tourism.

The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world in nominal terms and the 11th largest by purchasing power parity, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Their GDP is $1.5 trillion (nominal 2016) and $2.5 trillion (PPP 2016).

Their GDP has been growing at 3% per year and is stable.

In 2016 Mexico exported $359.3 billion in drugs, automobiles, electronics, televisions, computers, mobile phones, LCDs, oil and oil products, silver, fruits, vegetables, coffee, cotton, all over the world.

So where is all this money going?

Why are their people routinely being forced to “jump the border” and literally risk their lives, and the lives of their small children, to illegally enter the United States and other nations?

The answer can be found in the Mexican oligarchy/plutocracy, which is obviously greedy and selfish beyond reproach.

Mexico should be a lesson to the United States and other nations which allow their internal oligarchs/plutocrats to grow without any pruning or trimming by their general population, or their corrupted governmental agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).

While the Mexican upper class literally “swims” in money, their poorest classes must die like animals within trailer trucks in places like San Antonio Texas, or languish in prisons both in Mexico (or in the United States) trying to desperately escape their horrific poverty and hellish living conditions.

The USA must not only punish and jail those illegal aliens who brave the elements to escape into the USA by jailing them or turning them back to Mexico, but also come down like a hammer on the heads of those greedy bastard oligarchs in Mexico who do not give a damn about their own people and young children, rather allowing (and encouraging) them to sneak into the USA and other countries to risk their freedom, and very lives.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on Mexican Oligarchs And Other Nations Need To Fix Own Economy And Stop Dumping People On USA

Update: New Mexico rape kit crisis gets worse

NOVANEWS

Six months ago Liberation News reported that New Mexico had the greatest number of untested rape kits in the country.

Since then despite a statewide audit, the crisis has worsened not improved. With over 6,000 kits left untested over the course of 30+ years, justice for victims of sexual assault continues to be blatantly disregarded by state officials.

Despite the so-called efforts made to decrease the number of untested kits, the problem is worsening. Tim Keller, state auditor, reported that the backlog of untested kits is growing bigger—some decades old, while new ones are added each day. Over 20 new kits are admitted to the Albuquerque Police Department each month with only four being processed every 30 days. This means 16 new kits are being added to the backlog monthly. State officials have failed to account for the tragic rape kit crisis in New Mexico—some implying that the urgency for accountability is overdramatic.

Albuquerque Police Department has only two fully trained DNA analysts capable of processing kits. Additionally, there are only two crime labs in the state for processing. Since the public announcement of the state’s egregious epidemic, hard-hitting solutions have only been proposed, while concrete changes remain unseen.

The lack of priority given to funding testing for the backlog of rape kits is especially disgusting when we consider that Albuquerque residents have been forced to dole out $30 million for civil law suits since 2010 because of routine police violence: Albuquerque Police shot and kill people, per capita,  at twice the rate of Chicago Police.

Outrageously, state auditors found that one-fifth of the kits were left untested because of a perceived lack of credibility on the part of the victim. This fact exemplifies how this crisis denies justice to victims of sexual assault and reinforces rape culture.

Victims that courageously report rape and abuse are put through further traumatizing and humiliating processes just for evidence to collect dust for up to decades. Some older rape kits will never be able to be tested or used in court cases leaving rapists and perpetrators free to harm more women in the future. Leaving kits untested discourages victims from reporting instances of sexual assault.

The New Mexico rape kit crisis represents how violence against women is disseminated by the U.S. justice system and how this violence is a symptom of women’s continued subordinate status in capitalist society.

Sexual assault is only one symptom of the violence women face under capitalism. Women lack access to basic services like healthcare, affordable housing and education, and face higher rates of poverty than men.

We need a new system that ends all violence against women—one that protects the people and not rapists.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on Update: New Mexico rape kit crisis gets worse

Under NAFTA, Diabetes Became Leading Cause of Death in Mexico

NOVANEWS
Image result for NAFTA LOGO
teleSUR 

Diabetes has become the leading cause of death in Mexico, according to a new study released by the World Health Organization, WHO.

The United Nations agency claims diabetes rates in the Latin American country began surging just over two decades ago, around the time the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, came into force.

An estimated 80,000 people die each year in Mexico from diabetes, WHO also reports, adding that nearly 14 percent of adults there suffer from the disease.

“Diabetes is one of the biggest problems in the health system in Mexico,” Dr. Carlos Aguilar Salinas told NPR during a recent interview.

“It’s the first cause of death. It’s the first cause of disability. It’s the main cost for the health system.”

Why has diabetes become such an issue in Mexico after NAFTA? The answer is simple: cheap imported junk food.

Since its 1994 inception, NAFTA has allowed U.S. and Canadian restaurants and processed food manufacturers to sell products at rates much lower than their Mexican counterparts. This creates a situation where fastfood chains like McDonald’s and processed food brands like Nabisco are able to dominate the country’s market, given that their products are more financially accessible.

And in a country with rising poverty, inequality and food insecurity, cheap imported junk food is often the only nutritional option.

In 2015, WHO reported that Mexico is the leading consumer of junk food in Latin America — the average person there consumes 450 pounds of ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages each year.

The organization also reported that until recently, Mexico was the largest per capita consumer of soda in the world, with the average person drinking 36 gallons each year. The U.S., Argentina and Chile are now the leading consumers of soda.

“Diabetes used to be a disease of the rich,” WHO’s Mexico chief Dr. Gerry Eijkemans also told NPR during a recent interview.

“In Western Europe and the U.S., it was really the people who had the money who were obese, and now it’s actually the opposite.”

Nearly 60 percent of Latin Americans are overweight, according to a UN report.

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on Under NAFTA, Diabetes Became Leading Cause of Death in Mexico

US Supreme Court to Hear Case of Slain Mexican Teen at Border

NOVANEWS
  • A U.S. border patrol agent walks along the border fence separating Mexico from the United States near Calexico, California, Feb. 8, 2017.
    A U.S. border patrol agent walks along the border fence separating Mexico from the United States near Calexico, California, Feb. 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
His parents wonder whether he died in “a unique no man’s land — a law-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Tuesday the case of the death of a 15-year-old Mexican boy shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in 2010, to decide whether the family can sue for his death. Legally, the case is particularly tricky as the shooting took place across the U.S.-Mexico border.

RELATED:  Eight People Flee U.S. Border Patrol to Seek Asylum in Canada

Sergio Hernandez was shot more than six years ago by U.S. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa. Hernandez’s family, who is still seeking justice, says he was playing with friends around a border fence between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez when he was shot. The case will be examined in Washington on Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hernandez’s parents, Maria Guadalupe Guereca and her husband Jesus Hernandez, had originally filed suit in U.S. District Court, on the basis that Mesa had violated Sergio’s Fourth Amendment protection against unjustified lethal force and his Fifth Amendment right to due process of law.

But their case was dismissed when a judge ruled that those protections do not apply to the unmarked border where Hernandez was killed. As a Mexican citizen, his death would have to be adjudicated in Mexico. And while Mexican authorities did indict Mesa for murder, the United States has refused to extradite him. They have warned that throwing out the family’s lawsuit could harm diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Hernandez’s family is seeking justice once more across the border. While a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans initially ruled that Mesa could be sued, that decision was overturned by the full court.

That’s left the young Mexican’s parents to wonder whether, as their lawyers argue, their son died in “a unique no man’s land — a law-free zone in which U.S. agents can kill innocent civilians with impunity.”

The Supreme Court must now decide whether any or all of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees applied to the deceased teen.

RELATED:  Trump May Send 100,000 National Guard Troops as ‘Border Force’: Memo

“If you lose yourself in the Supreme Court and deny legal rights to Sergio’s parents, that’s practically giving the green light to a massacre of Mexicans,” Richard Boren, a volunteer from the Border Patrol’s Network of Victims Civil union that supports relatives of victims of similar incidents, told AFP.

Guereca has just two photographs left of her 15-year-old son. The rest were taken away by her children. They did that so she isn’t pained by his memory. But Guereca still takes out her son’s clothes every month to wash them. And every week you can find her at his grave site, laying fresh flowers on his tombstone.

“Justice,” she pleads in a choked voice when she recalls his tragic death.

Even seven years after the incident, Guereca is not giving up hope.

“We were always very close,” the 59-year-old mother told AFP. “But look at what life is like, it took (him) away forever.”

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on US Supreme Court to Hear Case of Slain Mexican Teen at Border

What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

NOVANEWS

What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

On Jan. 26, Enrique Peña Nieto, stated in video message on Twitter, “I regret and disapprove of the decision by the United States to continue the construction of the wall which for years, far from uniting us, has divided us. Mexico does not believe in walls.” He further stated, “I have asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to strengthen measures to protect our nationals.” The statement led several days later to the cancelling of the scheduled meeting between Enrique Peña Nieto and Donald Trump.

The Trump Agenda is an extreme manifestation of white supremacy, bigotry, imperial arrogance and anti-worker politics. It is so extreme that even the most comprador bourgeoisie of Mexico, represented by a president who has a 12% approval rating, had to say something.

U.S. imperialist intervention in Mexico

From the theft of half of its territory in 1848, to the occupation of the port of Veracruz in 1914, to the takeover of Mexico’s economy through NAFTA signed in 1994, to the flooding of weapons and support of drug trafficking by the Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. empire has had, putting it lightly, a precarious relationship with its southern neighbor. With capitalism’s global turn towards the neo-liberal model in the 1980s, Mexico’s bourgeoisie was more than happy to sell out the country’s vast resources to world capitalist interests, especially U.S. corporations, in order to make a quick buck. The most egregious example of this was the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement by the notoriously corrupt PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party – Peña Nieto’s Party) president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Prior to 1994, it was estimated that around 2 million Mexican immigrants had crossed “illegally” into the United States. More than 20 years later, that number is estimated to be anywhere between 10-12 million Mexican immigrants. Not only did NAFTA cause the violent displacement of millions of people, it also forced upon Mexico, a developing country with vast mineral resources, extreme poverty.

Subsequent presidents, from Vicente Fox of PAN (National Action Party), who broke the decades-long rule of the PRI, to Felipe Calderon, also from PAN who launched a violent war against drug cartels which led to the mass killing of civilians, have continued to strengthen the economic and military ties with their masters to the North.

The effects of this relationship upon the Mexican working class on both sides of the border is clear. An extensive report by CONEVAL (Consejo Nacional de Evaluacion de la Politica de Desarrollo Social), a government institution in Mexico that studies the political and social development of the population, reported that in 2015, 46.2 percent of Mexicans lived in poverty. This amounted to over 55.3 million people who did not have access to nutritional and non-nutritional goods that are considered basic. Those considered to live under “extreme poverty,” meaning that they lack access to basic nutrition, were 9.4 percent of the population or 11.4 million people.

According to a recent report to the Mexican Congress by the Deputy’s Office of Economic Analysis, which analyzed the changes in remittances between Jan. 2007 and March 2011, the amount of remittances sent back to Mexico by immigrant workers between this period totaled $98.8 billion. In 2007 alone, Mexico’s economy received a little over $26 billion.

Combined, Mexican labor contributes $635 billion per year, which constitutes 5% of U.S. GDP and 60% of Mexico’s GDP. Undocumented immigrants alone contribute over $200 billion to the U.S. economy. Solely on the issue of taxes, undocumented immigrants, according the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, paid $11.4 billion in taxes last year. Compare this to giant corporations that pay very little to no federal taxes.

On both sides of the border it is the workers who pay the price of U.S. imperialism. Mexican workers work to the bone and it is their exploiters that reap the profit.

Mexico’s comprador bourgeoisie and the struggle for self-determination

When Vicente Fox started flipping-off “el Trompas” (popular naming of Trump which literally means “car horn”), media outlets made him a symbol of Mexican resistance towards Trump’s demagogic attempt to make Mexico pay for the Wall. While any flipping-off of Trump should be celebrated, Vicente Fox, the former PAN president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, is no different than the rest of the comprador ruling class which have sought to deepen the relationships with Yankee imperialism.

Fox, the former supervisor of Coca-Cola Mexico, also received a diploma in Management Skills from Harvard Business School. During his presidency, Coca-Cola Mexico became that country’s top selling soft drink. In an unprecedented act, Fox told the late-Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro to limit his comments against the U.S. government at a U.N. meeting held in Mexico and leave as soon as he had finished his meal. Cuba and Mexico have historically had friendly relations, but Vicente Fox made it clear that he didn’t want his partnership with the United States tarnished.

Similar to Trump, the current president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, was inaugurated with protest across the country. Sparking the #YoSoy132 student movement, Peña Nieto’s dismissal of the real anger in the streets against his and the ruling class’ attempt to privatize education and the national resources of the country through “Plan Mexico” only added fuel to the fire.

Then, on Sept. 26, 2014, the mass kidnapping and disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College caused a major national and international uproar that led to a major destabilization of the PRI government. From mass actions by teachers, unions, and the recent protests against the rise of gasoline prices known as the “Gasolinazo,” the people of Mexico are resisting their own government’s oppressive policies.

It is in this context that the spineless comprador bourgeoisie is trying to rally support against Trump. It is a purely opportunistic attempt to distract the working class of Mexico in order to continue privatizing the Mexican economy. We must be clear, the people’s resistance will not be led by those who have sold out Mexico for so long. It must be led by those fighting for justice for the students of Ayotzinapa, the unions of Oaxaca and Guerrero, the indigenous councils, the Zapatistas, the mass student movements and all left revolutionaries who demand full self-determination for the Mexican people.

Mexican workers, their descendants and the vast diaspora of La Raza need to fight the continual humiliation suffered under Trump and U.S. imperialism. We must oppose the U.S.-Mexico border wall and Trump’s attempts to expand it. We must unite our cross-border struggle against capitalism and for a worker’s revolution that can finally put an end to the historic injustices against the Mexican people. ¡Fuera Trump! ¡Fuera Nieto! ¡Viva la resistencia de nuestros pueblos!

Posted in USA, MexicoComments Off on What’s behind the crisis in U.S.-Mexico relations?

At Least 4 Killed, 700 Arrested in Mexico Gas Protests

NOVANEWS
  • Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017.
    Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against the rising prices of gasoline enforced by the Mexican government at the Macroplaza in Monterrey, Mexico, Jan. 5, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Mexicans continue to rage against the president’s neoliberal reforms and high gas prices.

Protests over a double-digit hike in gasoline prices in Mexico continue in at least 22 states of the country, officials said on Friday, as they confirmed that the wave of violent lootings and blockades has left three people dead and at least 700 arrested.

RELATED: Gasoline Hikes Lead to Food Shortages in Mexico

Business leaders estimate that some 1,000 shops and companies have been looted or vandalized this week as others closed over fears of being robbed.

Protesters argue that the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by up to 20 percent has no justification in an oil-rich country, but the government insists that the move responds to international prices and not a result of the government’s neoliberal reforms.

On Thursday night President Enrique Peña Nieto used a nationally televised New Year’s address to defend the increase, again.

“It is a difficult change, but as president, it is precisely my responsibility to take difficult decisions in the present to avoid major problems in the future,” said Peña Nieto, whose approval rating has fallen below 23 percent.

The unpopular leader said that keeping the same prices would have cost the government US$9.3 billion, forcing the suspension of health care and welfare programs.

“I ask you, what would you have done?” he said.

While acknowledging the widespread anger, Peña Nieto said he would forge ahead with the liberalized or deregulated price scheme, which removes fuel subsidies and allow gasoline prices to be determined by prevailing international prices.

Meanwhile, the state-run oil company PEMEX has denounced blockades on roads that give access to fuel storage terminals and has warned that if the situation continues it could trigger a crisis of shortages and aggravate the problem.

RELATED: Mexico Plunges into Fresh Crisis as Fury Swells over Gas Prices

Some have speculated that the looting and vandalism has been led by allegedly “infiltrated” groups, in a move that staunch critics of Peña Nieto’s administration claim is intended to create chaos in the country and undermine social protests, setting the basis for the targeting of activists as criminals.

The increases, which applied to both gasoline and diesel, will subsequently raise food, transportation and other costs, analysts warn.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on At Least 4 Killed, 700 Arrested in Mexico Gas Protests

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