Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MEXICO: No Indigenous Consultation, No NAFTA

La Jornada

(This article can be distributed and disseminated by those who so wish to do so) 

July 8, 2017

Yesterday Mr. Donald Trump returned to the charge, demonstrating his rowdy and threatening style, pointing out that if it there is no total and complete renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement treaty (NAFTA), United States will be withdrawing forever.

Faced with this new bravado, let us review the impacts in Mexico of this famous and well-established Free Trade Agreement.

It is true that the NAFTA allowed Mexico to position itself as a relevant country in the global productive chains of value, as the number one exporter of manufactured goods from Latin America. The entry into the NAFTA more than two decades ago was indeed the platform for the Mexican economy to achieve position as the sixteenth exporting world power, but it did not help to reduce the poverty that is currently experienced in the country.

"We were better off, when things were worse"
 (Popular proverb)

However, despite the fact that the millions of dollars in net bilateral trade is presented as evidence of the success of the agreement, much of the activity is intra-company and intra-industry, and is offset with a real reduction of trade in goods and services produced by medium and small companies, which generate most of employment. That is to say, the supposed gains do not enter the Mexican economy and have not had a positive result in increasing the Human Development Index. Mexico still has the same amount of people in poverty as prior to entry into the NAFTA, with yet other critical components of indicators not seen in 1994 which are now present at grave levels and dimensions. These include insecurity, the proliferation of organized crime groups, the deterioration of the social network, the pollution of the environment by the massive use of chemicals by extractive industries and a Mexican State with fewer financial and legal resources, with reduced political and social capacity to fulfill the legal responsibilities assigned to the state by laws to meant to guarantee fulfillment of obligatory commitments to the republic. 

Who were the winners of the NAFTA?

Large corporations have been able to use the NAFTA trade framework to integrate their production chains, but small and medium-sized enterprises continue at a disadvantage because they do not have the flexibility of movement, financial capacity, integrated productive networks, or the financial incentives for profitable businesses operating in a continental scale. Such is the case of the horticultural sector, especially with the tomato sector, that took advantage of windows of opportunity. In the case of the avocado, in 1995 we could not export avocado to the United States market; in November 2016 exports of avocado from Mexico reached the 319 million dollars according to the accounting of Banco de México (Mexican Federal Bank). Other products that gained export values in the 20 years of the agreement are beer, tequila, coffee, raspberries, cucumbers, peppers, bakery products, cookies, onions, watermelons, baby food, asparagus and cigarettes. The automotive sector with the entry of the trade agreement between the three countries, was the one of the most representative winners.

Indigenous Farmers, the Losers of the FTA

Despite the above, the promised paradise of better wages and rising levels of life for the workers never arrived and the most affected were the small farmers and Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, who facing a scenario where the support to small farmers was extinguished, meanwhile the products of the US mega-agroindustry were freed of the burden of tariffs, thus making their community based economies of small and medium scale even more precarious.  Mexican small farmers and Indigenous People were displaced, in some cases a major migration to the north was generated due to omissions in the NAFTA treaty that generated a transnational labor market without provisions to manage and administrate the migration of labor in a legal and orderly manner. In this way, a paradoxical situation was created that produced a massive and disorderly chaotic migration provoked by the transnational labor market of NAFTA itself but without provisions within the agreement in favor of the rights of the migrant workers, who end up being criminalized.

What happened to wages?

In terms of wages, after a strong and prolonged decrease associated with the crisis of 1994 and 1995, for 2012 the average salaries were only 6.6% higher than they were in 1993, which implies an average annual growth rate of only 0.34%. The average salary of 2012 was virtually identical to that prevailing in Mexico 30 years ago.

These differences are greater when we compare the real wage levels per hourly pay, which in the United States are 5 or 6 times higher than the real salary offered in Mexico, a country that has the lowest minimum wage within the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where the country´s salary is only $1.01 per hour, which is lower than Chile ($2.2) and Turkey ($3.49), whose economies are similar to the Mexico. The minimum wage of an Australian worker is nine times greater than that of a Mexican, and an employee of the continent of Oceania earns $9.54 dollars per hour. 

Indigenous Peoples and the Free Trade Agreement

It was the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional EZLN who originally raised the negative effects that the NAFTA would bring to Mexico. The armed uprising of the EZLN in Chiapas took place on January 1, 1994, the day of the entry into the agreement.

History and time have proven them correct.

In the NAFTA negotiation process that was approved in 1993, the small farmers (campesinos) and Indigenous Peoples affected by the effects of this treaty were absent, despite the fact that Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization had been approved and accepted by our country in 1991. This is a situation that cannot and must not occur again in 2017.

Without Indigenous Consultation There Can Be No Treaty

Today, from the legal point of view, it can be categorically stated that if there is no Indigenous Consultation in Mexico there can be no total or partial renegotiation of the NAFTA that could be deemed valid.

Without the meaningful participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, there is a set of national and international standards that make the total or partial renegotiation of NAFTA legally impossible.  Mexico is constitutionally obligated to consult with the Indigenous People, especially those that are affected by it. If the Mexican Government negotiates without consultation, the Supreme Court of Justice or the International Tribunals can declare any treaty signed by Mexico as illegal if there has been no consultation with the Indigenous Peoples for such agreements.  This is established in the First Constitutional Article and in Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization. The lack of Consultation with Indigenous Communities was the central argument that was used by the Procurador General de la Republica (PGR) Attorney General to file an appeal of unconstitutionality against the constitution of Mexico City, thus the Mexican Government itself would not be able to have a different attitude or legal position if Indigenous Peoples are not consulted in any renegotiation of the NAFTA.

If there are any doubts about this topic: (See page 278 to 286)

UN, Indigenous Rights and Trade Agreements

Furthermore, in the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, regarding the impact of international investment and free trade agreements, in a presentation before the UN General Assembly on July 29, 2016, a series of recommendations were established on investment and free trade practices in regards to the rights of Indigenous Peoples. These are in addition to the legal framework of national and international standards now in force and applicable under these type of trade agreements.

In that report the rapporteur points out that "investments are not, as such, destructive, but they highlight the unfair aspects of the current system of global economic and financial governance and the limited capacity for protection of States and systems of local governance”.

"This analysis shows the way in which Indigenous Peoples, who are among the most marginalized in the world, suffer disproportionately the consequences of a system that contains systemic imbalances between the exercise of the rights of investment companies and the exercise of human rights ".

The Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples makes a series of recommendations to States "on how to act collectively to find ways to achieve the human rights of all citizens operating under the regimes of investment and free trade".

Below is the Link of this Report, so that it can be consulted thoroughly.

Report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Without the NAFTA, North American farmers lose

The main advocate of the NAFTA is the United States Secretary of Agriculture.

In Mexico, those who benefit from NAFTA in the countryside are only a small group of large and medium farmers. The vast majority of small farmers and Indigenous Peoples cannot deliver production for market because there is no financing and because the conditions of competition in agricultural matters are very unequal and unfair to Mexico especially in terms of grain production. This situation facilitates the ease by which Americans sell us millions of tons of corn, wheat and other grains at the price they want.

Mexico should consider and can achieve the  goal to be self-sufficient in the production of grains in a few years, which would give us food self-sufficiency, strengthen the rural economy and provide hope for the Common Lands of the Ejidos, as well as the communities of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico.

If the NAFTA is canceled, thousands of North American farmers will be left without work. Trump knows it, it is just that his way of negotiating which is well-known (whining, tantrums and paraphernalia), which is not the most favorable one.

Diplomacy is not incompatible with firmness

Trump also tells us that "foreign nations have enriched themselves at the expense of the United States" Does anyone in the world really believe such a lie? If you really believe that, we could propose to cancel the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and that Trump give back to Mexico our captured territory, we would give back the pitiful amount of money the US paid the Mexican government at the time. We know that is not a possibility and will not occur.

The Wall and Mental Disorders of Trump

When the media questioned Trump about whether he still wanted Mexico pay for his announced border wall, he answered: "Absolutely".  This shows his innate stubbornness and a quarrelsome attitude, a lack of respect and manifest disdain for manners, personal attributes of character that are convergent with his cynicism, his arrogance and hatred for our race.

But Mexico cannot permit that whenever it pleases him, Trump may attack us, insult us, threaten us and the response of our authorities is that "We want to have a constructive relationship", "we see positive progress", "we want a win-win relationship" or any other equivalence to turning the other cheek. This might have worked for other scenarios and other circumstances, but it is useless and counterproductive with a quirky character like Trump.

A personality like Trumps tends to make fun of the measured response; each aggression must be answered and faced head on with facts.

We can turn our weakness into strength if we act with intelligence and firmness. Mexico must not let a single aggression go unanswered. It is illustrative of the personality of Trump's attitude towards Putin, before whom he arrives with his tail between his legs. Mexico is a Sovereign Nation, we may have all the shortcomings of the world and many internal problems, but we cannot allow a foreign authority, no matter how powerful, to humiliate us and show us lack of respect.

The mere fact that a topic of this nature is mentioned, expresses that we are facing a person who is either very abusive or suffering severe neuronal damage. Even taken without the aggression, the proposals of Mr. Trump towards Mexico are absurd.  He could have been invited to face the media and present the logical reasons, the legal basis, the relevant articles of the agreements, norms and international treaties, for his proposals but no. Instead we are subjected to the product of a mind with serious disorders, according to the diagnosis of psychiatrists of the most prestigious Universities of U.S.

Therefore, we reiterate our respect for the American people, but not for Mr. Trump. It’s not just that he enjoys lying, he loves to show it off. And in terms of NAFTA: if you do not want to continue, then take your trinkets to another place, stop being so bothersome and wasting our time. Mexico was and will continue to be Mexico, with or without the agreement, and much help that which does not hinder.

If we know how to take advantage of this situation, it will be an opportunity to redefine our future, to establish new norms and rules of the game, and thus allow Mexico to be a more equitable, just and democratic country. 

Mexico City July 8, 2017

Washington Arms Mexico: $1,300 Million Dollars of arms sales in one year

The Law of Exceptions:
NAFTA and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Open Letter to the Ministers of State
and the
Public Societies of Canada-US-Mexico


We call upon the ministers of government at all levels of Canada-US-Mexico and the public constituencies of their respective societies to address without prejudice or discrimination the above clarifications. We assert that these clarifications command rectification of the crime of colonialism and a moratorium on all NAFTA economic development projects impacting the territories of the Nations and Pueblos of Indigenous Peoples until the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Indigenous Peoples is fully recognized, respected, and protected in the spirit of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as follows:

“Affirming that Indigenous Peoples are equal to all other peoples,…..”


No comments:

Post a Comment