Economic Refugees and Big Petroleum
Submitted by lorinpda on Sun, 07/11/2010 - 10:58
The Status of Liberty depicts the "Mother of Exiles". A symbol of American values.
So what is an exile? An exile is a synonym for "refugee".
In February of 2008 hundreds of thousands of farmers came to Mexico City to protest the final provision of NAFTA (the North American Trade Agreement). NAFTA removed all tariffs on corn coming from the United States. US Farm Corporations have their products subsidized by US tax payers. Having wiped out much of small farmers in the US, the "free market" expanded in to Mexico.
"NAFTA is very bad, very bad for Mexican consumers and for Mexican producers," said Victor Quintana, head of Democratic Farmers Front, which organized the protest.
The farmers complain that U.S. and Canadian grains are heavily subsidized and therefore undermine Mexican products.
"The NAFTA agreement is in place and that's that," said farmer Armando del Valle. "But all producers should be under equal conditions, and as Mexicans, we are not working under the same terms as our neighbors up north." Video Watch a tractor go up in smoke, as farmers plead their case
Ramon Garcia, who grows corn just outside Mexico City, said he couldn't afford to fertilize his crop this year and had to rent a tractor to till his field. The work is too much work for too little return, he said.
"Corn is too cheap," Garcia said. "For me to make a profit, it has to bring in 15 pesos ($1.4) a kilo, and I can barely get 10."
Across the seas in India, farmers livelihood's are also destroyed by "trade" agreements. Unlike Mexican farmers, there is no border for Indian economic refugees to cross. Instead, farmers commit suicide. From the New York Times:
BHADUMARI, India — Here in the center of India, on a gray Wednesday morning, a cotton farmer swallowed a bottle of pesticide and fell dead at the threshold of his small mud house.
Villagers in Bhadumari gathered in the house of Anil Kondba Shende and looked at his body as the local police investigated his suicide.
The farmer, Anil Kondba Shende, 31, left behind a wife and two small sons, debts that his family knew about only vaguely and a soggy, ruined 3.5-acre patch of cotton plants that had been his only source of income.
Whether it was debt, shame or some other privation that drove Mr. Shende to kill himself rests with him alone. But his death was by no means an isolated one, and in it lay an alarming reminder of the crisis facing the Indian farmer.
Across the country in desperate pockets like this one, 17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available. Anecdotal reports suggest that the high rates are continuing.
Though the crisis has been building for years, it presents an increasingly thorny political challenge for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. High suicide rates and rural despair helped topple the previous government two years ago and put Mr. Singh in power.
Changes brought on by 15 years of economic reforms have opened Indian farmers to global competition and given them access to expensive and promising biotechnology, but not necessarily opened the way to higher prices, bank loans, irrigation or insurance against pests and rain.
On Jan 21, 2010 the US Supreme court decided that corporations have the rights of a citizen. On April 20, 2010, eleven workers were killed by negligent behavior of the British Petroleum corporation. So one would think, if a corporation has the rights of a citizen, it would also have the responsibility.
Workers and businesses in the gulf coast are being displaced. Many will become economic refugees.
So isn't it ironic that BP (British Petroleum) is a legal corporation in the US ( Washington Post reports the US federal government has given BP least 980 million in contracts). Meanwhile, the Mexican farmer, now busing tables is U.S. public enemy number one, "illegal alien".
Supposedly as a response to the "jobless recovery", July 7, 2010, President Obama announced a push for more trade agreements (Columbia and South Korea). Leo Hindery, Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, writes at Huffington Post, "FTAs being proposed — with South Korea, Panama and Colombia — are very poorly negotiated and will cause even more American jobs to be lost overseas.".
So more Trade agreements mean more workers will lose their jobs and be displaced. More economic refugees.
On July 29, 2010 Arizona’s SB 1070 will go in to effect. We have a lot to reflect on. What would the "Mother of Refugees" think?