'Mega Marcha' Against NAFTA in Mexico City
PEJ News - Joan Russow - Mexico City - Sin Mais no hay pais. Estimates vary about the number of protesters in the January 31, 2008 'Mega Marcha' in Mexico City. The estimates range from 50,000 through 150,000 to 200,000. Campesinos, and union organization members, armed with mega banners, came from all over Mexico The march went for 5 kilometres from the Plaza de Angel de la Independencia to the Zocolo (Central Square). The protesters came by the hundreds in tractors, covered with potent cartoons protesting dumping of US genetically engineered corn, and US beans....even Zapatistas on horse back, and cattle in stables protesting the dumping of milk products, along with, passionate speeches revolution cries of Viva Zapata, with fists raised and revolutionary music. All demanding the renegotiation of NAFTA sections on Agriculture and Electricity.
The demonstration was organized primarily by Cruz Lopez Confederacion Nacional Campesina (CNC), by Max Correa (la Central campesina Cardenista (CCC), Martin Esparza Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME). Artemio Ortiz de la Coordinadora National de trabjadores de la educacion (CNTE)
The rally was called to demand the renegotiation of sections in NAFTA and to oppose the dumping of US produce on Mexico, and against the increased privatization of electricity.
Ever since the negotiation of NAFTA unions and campesions have protested in Mexico against the US agricultural subsidies, and against the dumping of US produce in Mexico.
The outcome of the subsidizing of the US agricultural industry and the dumping of produce in Mexico has been that the Mexican farmers could not compete. They sold their land and moved to the cities or to the US.
Another key issue that was being addressed at the Mega Marcha was the increased privatization of electricity. Privatization will be futher advanced under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) because of the call in the SPP for a reliable source of energy (i.e. increased access by the US to Canadian and Mexican oil).
Generally in the Mexican media there has been little mention of the SPP Agreement (ASPAN in Spanish). Only at the Social Forum held in Mexico from January 18 to January 26 was there any mention in the Media about the SPP Agreement.. The Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement was entered into by Bush, Martin, and Fox in 2005, and later reaffirmed by Bush, Harper and Calderon
While there has been opposition, by Mexican Campesinos and Unions, to NAFTA since its inception, there was increased recent opposition to NAFTA as a result of the opening up of the Mexican borders on January 1 2008 to US and presumably Canadian corn, beans, milk products.
Almost all participants in the Mega Marcha were opposed to genetically modified corn being further introduced in Mexico. There was, however, a small group of farmers from the Chihuhua and Guanajuato provinces, driving a tractor with signs supporting genetically engineered corn. They even admitted that they had already illegally planted genetically engineered corn. Many suspected that the group was funded by industry. To dramatize their pro-genetically engineered stance, in a march with thousands opposed to genetically engineered corn, they set in flames their tractor. Undoubtedly, something that the other campesinos could not afford to do.
Another dramatic moment occurred when one of the speakers on the podium declared that we will no longer be under US control and began to tear, and eventually succeeded in tearing the US flag into pieces. Before long the Canadian flag will also be publicly torn.
At the rally there was a firm commitment to unified action demanding that the government set up a meeting on February 7, and the issuing of threats that there would be further demonstration around the country and a sit-in in the Chamber of Deputees demanding the renegotiation of NAFTA.
In the Correos the following was reported:
'Lopez declared that from now on, the Federal executive will be confronted by allied class resistance , and demanded that Felipe Calderon set up a clear agenda and be prepared to give answers.
At the end of the demonstration, under the instruction of Felipe Calderon, the relevant ministries (economy, agriculture, and labour) issued a communique:.
In the Communique , it was indicated that on Wednesday February 6, there would be a meeting between the relevant Ministers: Eduard Sojo, Alberto Cardenas, y Javier Lozano and the unions and organizations representing the campesinos and workers,. that they would immediately address the demands coming from these organizations. and that they will set up a working timetable to address the concerns of the organizations.
The presidents of the Campesions and Labour organiztions announced that they will (Tomaran la sede) organize a sit-in the Chamber of Deputees the following day on February 7, to strenthen there demand for the renotiation of NAFTA' (TRANSLATION of sections in the article in the Correos)
Near the end, the moderator reported that there was support coming from several trade unions in the US. He also reported that they had received support form one union in Canada a union of workers in Quebec. This is a time for Unions throughout North America to be united in their opposition to NAFTA and the SPP.