The Common Good
May-June 2001

Hemispheric NAFTA-Shocks

by Ryan Beiler | May-June 2001

On the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the Zapatista
movement began—a rebellion, they said, against the forces of globalization on behalf
of ...

On the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect, the Zapatista movement began—a rebellion, they said, against the forces of globalization on behalf of the rights of indigenous Mexicans. Seven years later, as Zapatistas continued their struggle by peacefully marching this spring from Chiapas to Mexico City, trade ministers from 34 North and South American countries headed to Quebec City to hammer out a NAFTA of the Western hemisphere: The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

Though 500 corporate representatives were invited to attend the FTAA conference, civil society's invitations were apparently lost in the mail, leaving critics to assert that the FTAA is fundamentally undemocratic and that its goals of privatization and deregulation will pad corporate wallets at the expense of workers, the poor, and the environment. Opponents cite sweatshop conditions, heavy pollution, and the migration of U.S. jobs to the South as evidence that the NAFTA-fication of the Americas will enrich a few and open borders to exploitation and injustice.

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