Mexico City “mega-march” against NAFTA

In a “megamarcha” against the dropping of trade barriers under the terms of NAFTA, thousands of small farmers filled the streets of Mexico City’s historic district Jan. 31. A caravan of 100 tractors that traveled 2,000 kilometers from Ciudad Juarez was joined by caravans from QuerĂ©taro, Pachuca, Toluca and Cuernavaca, organized by the National Association of Campesino Enterprises (ANEC). Marchers demanded the renegotiation of NAFTA, under the slogan “Without corn there is no country, and not without beans either” (Sin maĂ­z no hay paĂ­s y sin frijol tampoco). (El Financiero, Feb. 1; Cronica de Hoy, Jan. 30)

See our last posts on Mexico, and the anti-NAFTA struggle.

  1. Mexico: campesinos protest NAFTA
    Led by a caravan of 21 tractors, tens of thousands of campesinos, unionists and activists marched through downtown Mexico City on Jan. 31 from the Angel of Independence to the Zocalo plaza, where speakers demanded a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “NAFTA’s very good—for the goddamn gringos,” was a popular slogan. Artemio Ortiz, representing the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), said the neoliberal economic model exemplified by NAFTA had failed; he called for more mobilizations on March 18, when Mexicans celebrate the nationalization of the oil industry; April 10, the anniversary of revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata’s assassination; and May 1, International Workers’ Day.

    The organizers claimed that 200,000 people participated in the march, which was sponsored by the National Campesino Confederation (CNC), six of the 12 organizations in the Permanent Agrarian Congress (CAP), and a number of unions and other groups. (La Jornada, Mexico, Feb. 1)

    There were also protests in various states, including sit-ins in local offices of the Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) and blockades of highways and international bridges. (LJ, Feb. 1) From Jan. 28 to 29 about 100 dairy farmers from Hidalgo and other states set up a stable at the Monument to the Revolution in downtown Mexico City to protest the low prices at which they have to sell milk to companies like Queen and Lala. The farmers gave out 25,000 liters of milk to people in the area before ending their protest in response to a promise for talks with Sagarpa and the Economy, Finance and Social Development secretariats. (LJ, Jan. 30)

    The government of President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa has been citing statistics to show that Mexican producers have benefited from NAFTA. But protests by farmers have grown as NAFTA has phased out tariffs on agricultural products from the US and Canada. Anti-NAFTA sentiment broke out in an unexpectedly large demonstration in Mexico City on Jan. 31, 2003. This year’s demonstration was even larger, bringing together rural organizations with very different political orientations and including unions and leftist groups. The CNC, with the largest contingent, is close to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); ironically, the CNC supported NAFTA when it went into effect in 1994 under a PRI government. (LJ, Feb. 1)

    From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 3