Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘NAFTA’

I seldom cross-post from Reconstitution, but this is important enough that I would like to get it as much attention as I can give it.

Many of us have been screaming for YEARS that we are killing people in the name of “free” trade, and the pollution and deprivation it visits upon the underdeveloped world. It appears that maybe some of that is coming back to visit us, with a vengeance.

One of my main criticisms of “free” trade as practiced by American corporatists is the willful blind-eye we turn to what these corporations do to the countries they offshore our jobs to. They willfully subcontract work to firms that are more or less (and sometimes EXACTLY, as in the case of KBR) slaveholders. But there is so much more that “free” trade brings to other countries, in the form of toxic pollution that would never be tolerated in most Western countries (except for Texas, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alabama, of course.)

The President promised to address the environmental tsunami that NAFTA turned loose on Mexico, and then he backed off, after some pressure from American corporatists who are interested in nothing but profits. Without a doubt, some of those who pressured the President happen to be corporate “factory” farmers, who can find dealing with the waste that animal husbandry produces to be difficult, to say the least. In Mexico, of course, they’ve never had to worry about any of that; they’ve turned vast swaths of Mexico into toxic wastelands, without regard for either the population near where they set up shop, or the environment.

Do you suppose that maybe NOW, the President might consider actually keeping that promise?

Sewage-filled lagoons at a pig farm in eastern Mexico – a product of the North American free trade deal – are suspected of creating ground zero conditions for swine flu in this country.

Environmentalists argue lax regulations in the factory farming that boomed in Mexico right after the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the U.S. are making people sick – and not just with swine flu.

“You might call this the `NAFTA flu,'” said Rick Arnold, co-ordinator of Common Frontiers, a Canadian coalition focusing on Latin America and issues of economic integration.

He argues multinationals are getting away with dire conditions not allowed north of the border.

Environmental groups three years ago began protesting against operations at the Carroll Farms in Veracruz, jointly operated by U.S. pork giant Smithfield Farms.

The first confirmed case of swine flu originated with a 5-year-old boy from the town of La Gloria, near the farm. He recovered.

Medical officials have not pinpointed where the outbreak began.

And from its Virginia headquarters, Smithfield officials insist there is no evidence linking their operations to the disease.

Smithfield Farms, the world’s largest pork producer with $12 billion in annual sales, opened Carroll Farms in 1994, calling it a “joint venture.

At home, the company was fined $12.6 million (U.S.) in 1997 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disclosed it was dumping raw pig sewage into a river flowing into Chesapeake Bay.

The health ministry, which earlier said 168 people were believed killed by swine flu in Mexico, yesterday would confirm only 12 of those deaths as being from swine flu and would not say how many more cases were suspected.

The air in Mexico City, once called the “most polluted” by the World Health Organization, is loaded with human fecal matter, gases, dust and other toxic materials.

“The pollution affects our eyes, throats and lungs,” said Dr. Erendira Gallardo Lobera, a general practitioner. She said the Mexican government should take stronger measures to ensure residents of the capital aren’t breathing in rat and dog feces with their oxygen.

For 30 years, the proponents of “free” trade have been extolling its many wonders. Among those wonders are a steady slide in Western living standards, small farmers in much of the developing world driven to suicide, slavery, pollution… and now, brand new (and lethal) diseases.

What’s not to LOVE about “free” trade?

Read Full Post »

Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down

By ROBERT F. WORTH

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.

Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse.

“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: