100,000 peasants marched on Mexico City against FTAA

Mexico City: 100,000 peasants marched on Mexico City on Friday Jan. 31 to oppose the imposition of second stage of the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. All import duties on food imported from the U.S.will be eliminated either now or in the next few years.

In attempt to stop this mobilization, 300 peasant leaders faced orders of arrest against themselves. In addition, government officials offered to negotiate if the mobilization were to be called off. In the morning of the 31st, radio and TV predicted trouble to discourage attendance. There was also the presence of a few provacateurs who claimed they were "animal rights activists" who tried to block the march.

The march was organized by a coalition called "The Countryside Cannot Take It Anymore." Some of the slogans were: "Countryside Yes, Treaty No!" "Let's Save the Countryside, Let's SAve Mexico" and quoting the dictator Porfirio Diaz who said "Kill Them While They're Hot" and the last President Zedillo who said "Let Them Emigrate While They're Hot". Labor represnetatives threatened a General Strike.

The march reflects a situation in Mexico where there is little subsidy to agriculture while agriculture in the USA receives huge subsidies from the US government. In Europe each cow receives a subsidy of $2.20 a day )US) which is more than many peasant families in Mexico earn each day. 600 Mexican peasants are abandoning the land every day, as they cannot compete with subsidized imports from the U.S. In the last 20 years, in spite of the increase in population in the countrside, agricultural production has declined 14.1% The government of President Fox is committed to the "modernization" of agriculture which in practice means driving the peasants off the land because they are supposedly "inefficient". Instead, Fox through the Plan Puebla Panama is creating an infrastructure to enable agribusiness to take over the southern part of Mexico, reducing Indian communiities to making beds in luxury hotels and dancing for tourists.


Mexico | www.agp.org