How TPP resembles NAFTA, and why both create some of the largest health and human rights emergencies of our time
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
“Today we say, enough is enough! We have been denied the most elemental preparation so they can use us as cannon fodder and pillage the wealth of our country. They don’t care that we have nothing, absolutely nothing, not even a roof over our heads, no land, no work, no health care, no food nor education. (1)”
This First Declaration of the Lacandona Jungle, published in Chiapas, Mexico by the Zapatista (EZLN) anti-neoliberal movement in 1993 sparked the “new” Mexican Revolution of the 20th century, and was in part a response to the signing of NAFTA by the Mexican government. NAFTA, or the North American Free Trade Agreement was and still is a controversial trade “partnership” between the United States, Canada and Mexico and was quickly followed by mass exoduses of newly further-impoverished Mexican farmers from the primary farming epicenters of their nation, Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and into our own (2). In short, NAFTA severely eliminated Mexican tariffs on foreign crop prices (among other goods), rendering small-scale and local Mexican farmers unable to compete even within their own hometowns; prices paid to Mexican corn farmers fell 66% overnight and after 3 years of NAFTA’s implementation the percent of rural Mexicans who did not have enough money for food rose from 36% to 50% (3). With American farming products streamlining into the Mexican nation at subsidy and NAFTA-infused prices via the U.S. Congress, we had rendered the Mexican farmer jobless overnight and a migrant worker “without papers” soon after.
Today however, “enough” may not be enough for the Office of the United States Trade Representative; while a 2010 report by the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico estimates that 50 million, or close to 46% of Mexicans live in poverty, we may be striving to out-do ourselves (4). Our government’s newest and largest version of NAFTA is a currently proposed trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. TPP could potentially encompass up to 21 countries (12), many of which also struggle with poverty, such as Vietnam, where over half of the population lives on less than 2$ a day, and Peru where 35% of the population lives in poverty (5,6).
If you don’t know what TPP is, you are not alone; the entire process to negotiate the treaty has kept the global public in the dark, and was only recently leaked in November on WikiLeaks as the “Secret” TPP Agreement.