Hightower: Nafta's Broken Promises

A Chicago politician once said: "I don't want to cast asparagus at my opponent." Well, I do want to cast some well-deserved aspersions -- asparagus, too, if I had any handy -- at NAFTA, that North American Free Trade rip-off with Mexico. Not only were we promised by Wall Street and Washington that NAFTA would create 200,000 new jobs a year for us, but it was also to lower our consumer prices and clean up the poisoned environment along the Mexican border. Several recent reports have shown that all their talk was jive -- nearly two years into NAFTA; we've actually lost about 300,000 jobs to Mexico. But what about the other two promises? Let's start with consumer prices by checking out a simple product: tomatoes. Under NAFTA, for the first time large US agribusinesses could take over small farms in Mexico, and they have -- tossing hundreds of thousands of Mexicans off the land. Today, exploiting dirt-cheap Mexican workers, new agribusiness plantations are producing and shipping tomatoes into the US cheaper than those grown here. But instead of passing any of their so-called "savings" to you -- they're pocketing them, and tomato prices actually are up. So what about their environmental promises? Well, the bank that created NAFTA to finance the clean-up of the border has yet to make a single loan. Also, NAFTA was supposed to eliminate the "maquiladora" zone along the border where thousands of US companies spew out 164 tons of toxic waste a day. But, two years later, this cesspool of cancer-causing waste continues to flow unabated, and 150 new plants have opened in that zone. It's time to cancel this raw deal. To help us get out of NAFTA, contact Global Trade Watch on 202-546-4996

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