By Pushing the TPP, Obama is Repeating the Mistakes of NAFTA
NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING
DONATE TODAY

By Pushing the TPP, Obama is Repeating the Mistakes of NAFTA


David Bacon: Obama's push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership(TPP) demonstrates his 2008 campaign pledge to oppose NAFTA-style free trade agreements was just lip service -   October 3, 14
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

Audio

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



I support The Real News Network because it cured my vertigo from all the spinning by Fox and MSNBC. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

Bio

David Bacon is an award-winning photojournalist, author, and immigrant rights activist who has spent over twenty years as a labor organizer. He is an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and writes for TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. Bacon covers issues of labor, immigration and international politics. He is the author of The Children of NAFTA, Communities without Borders, Illegal People and Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. His most recent book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.

Transcript

By Pushing the TPP, Obama is Repeating the Mistakes of NAFTAJAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

We're continuing our second part of our conversation with David Bacon on the 20-year anniversary of NAFTA.

David Bacon is an award-winning photojournalist, author, immigrants' rights activist who's spent over two decades as a labor organizer. His most recent book is The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration.

Thank you so much for joining us again, David.

DAVID BACON, AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Thank you.

NOOR: And, David, I'm reading a 2012 Angus Reid Public Opinion poll that says more than half of Americans want the U.S. to withdraw or renegotiate NAFTA. Only 15 percent believe that the U.S. should continue its current participation in NAFTA. When President Obama ran in 2008, he said he voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, he never supported NAFTA, and that he would not support NAFTA-style free trade agreements in the future. Yet now he is aggressively pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which has been described by critics as NAFTA on steroids. Has the U.S. government, has the Obama administration learned the right lessons from NAFTA?

BACON: No. I think what happened is that once the Obama administration took office, it began bowing to the wishes of corporate America, which wanted these new trade agreements and certainly did not want the administration to renegotiate the existing ones. But we could have predicted this, because actually during the campaign itself, one of Obama's aides kind of whispered quietly that corporations didn't really need to worry about the renegotiation of NAFTA, because he was only saying it for the purpose of the campaign.

People in the United States do not like the North American Free Trade Agreement. And I think those poll numbers are undoubtedly accurate, because we also lost on this side of the border. While big U.S. corporations were making a lot of money from their investment policies and the low wages in Mexico, what happened also here is that workers in the United States lost their jobs. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that 680,000 U.S. workers lost their jobs because they were directly transferred to Mexico as a result of this agreement. In fact, the Bush administration, before Obama, told the Department of Labor to stop releasing publicly the number of workers who were applying for special extended unemployment benefits (which was part of the trade treaty) as a result of losing their jobs because of NAFTA, because it was kind of providing political ammunition for the Democrats in the middle of an election campaign. So we don't even really know how many U.S. jobs were lost as a result of it. That 680,000 is undoubtedly a very low estimate.

So here in the U.S., people lost jobs because of this transfer to Mexico. But that doesn't mean that Mexicans won something as a result of it, because not only were the conditions for those jobs, once they were in Mexico, very poor and the wages were low; a lot of other things happened to Mexicans as a result of it at the same time, so that, for instance, the dumping of corn and meat and agricultural products in Mexico by huge U.S. corporations, like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland and Smithfield Foods, led to a situation in which Mexican farmers could not sell what they were growing--corn, for instance, or pigs--couldn't sell them for a price that was high enough that it would pay for the cost of growing these things. And this was an effort by U.S. corporations to take over the Mexican market, which they've done. Right now, 25 percent of all the pork meat sold in Mexico is coming from one company, Smithfield Foods--has headquarters in Virginia. The largest retailer in Mexico that's selling all these products is Walmart, the same large retailer that we have in the United States.

So I think that in many cases working people in the United States, especially if they belong to unions, which campaigned very heavily against NAFTA, kind of started to open their eyes about what the real conditions of their compatriots or their fellow workers in Mexico actually were, what was leading to this relocation of jobs.

So one of the good things, really, that came out as a result of NAFTA is that workers and unions, especially progressive ones, on both sides of the border, have drawn together in ways in which they are beginning to participate in defending each other's interests. When the Mexican government, for instance, tried to change Mexico's labor law or campaigned for the same kind of education reform that we've seen in the United States with standardized testing, or when it campaigned to privatize the electrical industry and the oil industry, U.S. unions also participated with Mexican unions in trying to oppose these changes, understanding that the effect wasn't just going to be felt in Mexico, but was going to be felt in the United States as well, both by the displacement of people and the migration of people to the United States, but also because in many cases U.S. unions and Mexican unions were starting to face the same economic policies, the same trade policies, and even the same employers.

So this kind of cross-border cooperation and this cross-border solidarity, I think, is a permanent fact of life in our labor movements in all three countries. In fact, this includes Canadian unions as well. And this was sort of a positive development, and not an intended one, certainly, I don't think, by the authors of NAFTA, who I don't think were sympathetic and aren't sympathetic to unions at all. But nevertheless, it's something that took place as workers learned that the effects of the agreement were being felt by working people on both sides of the border in very negative ways.

NOOR: David Bacon, thank you so much for joining us.

BACON: It's my pleasure.

NOOR: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Comments

Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

Comments


Latest Stories


Donald Trump and Liberal Media: The Joke's On You
Erratic Weather or Climate Change?
Ending Mass Incarceration? The Shortcomings of Left-Right Coalition Politics (1/2)
Will the Greek Left Unite to Oppose Austerity?
In Turkey, Kurds See Airstrikes and Protest Crackdowns as Political Revenge
Cornel West and Rick Wolff on White Supremacy and Capitalism
Economists Join the Fight For $15!
How the Greek Shipping Industry Schemed to Win Big in the Debt Crisis (2/2)
After 54 Years, US Isolated and Forced to Renew Diplomatic Relations With Cuba
Dodd-Frank's 5th Anniversary Passes, But Should We Celebrate?
The Global African: Cook Up & Peace in Mali
UN Reports Blasts Canada's Human Rights Record on Violence Against Indigenous Women
How the Greek Shipping Industry Schemed to Win Big in the Debt Crisis (1/2)
Rap News: Immigrants! Feat. Donald Trump & Tony Abbott
Trump Cast as Perfect Ringleader of Corporate Media Circus
Justice Department Details Investigation of Black Police Chief's Firing as Community Calls for Mayor's Resignation
Revolutionary Expectations and the Fight Against Austerity - Catarina Principe on RAI (5/5)
Cash-Strapped Puerto Rico at Hedge Funds' Mercy (2/2)
US Condemns Israel's Plan to Demolish West Bank Village - Just Lip Service?
Thousands Protest As Greek Parliament Approves Second Round of Austerity Measures
The Human Face of Greece's 'Unprecedented' Refugee Crisis
Max Blumenthal on Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie
ISIS Attacks Kurds in Turkey...With Tacit AKP Approval?
A Short History of Black Lives Matter
5 Things You Can't Do In Angola
SYRIZA's Thessaloniki Programme vs. Euro-Troika Austerity
SYRIZA's Stability Rocked by New Memorandum (3/3)
What's the U.S. Role In the Greek Crisis?
Big Games, Bigger Scandals! A Look at Toronto's Pan-Am Games
Andrew Cockburn: Modern War | #GRITtv

RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting