Saturday, August 08, 2009

North American Leaders Summit 2009

The leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the US, annoyingly known as 'the three amigos', kicked off their annual two day bunfest in Mexico today. Anyone thinking of actually throwing any buns should be advised that protesters from the last summit there five years ago are still in prison without trial.

The summit is promising to be less chummy all round this time.
Canada has angered Mexico by abruptly slapping Canadian visa requirements on Mexican visitors in order to stem the growing tide of Mexicans claiming refugee status in Canada. As of today Harper has stated he is not open to revoking it.
Harper in turn is pissed at Obama's protectionist 'Buy American' measures which funnel US stimulus money to US companies and away from Canadian ones. He and Stockwell Day have been pressing premiers and municipal leaders to open up their government procurement markets to US companies in hopes this gesture would win Canada an exemption from the Buy US measures although there is no guarantee the US will reciprocate.
Meanwhile Congress is threatening to cut off further Merida Initiative anti-drug trafficking money to Mexico until President Calderon rescinds the legal impunity he has so far granted to the Mexican police and military to rape, rob, and murder in the course of their war on drugs. Since he took office in 2006, 10,000 have died in drug wars. Two days ago Obama said he would not consider reopening NAFTA till conditions in Mexico were more stable.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership, once called NAFTA on steroids, is now looking more like NAFTA on continual life support, and all the above issues are parts of that sickness. When NAFTA allowed cheap corn to flood Mexican markets, farmers lost their land and whole families moved to the labour camps set up along the US border to provide cheap manufacturing labour to US corporations. Drug lords delivered services to the people not provided by the government but as the newly militarized war on drugs became a war on civilians, conditions in the labour camps increased the influx of illegal aliens to the US. Presumably Harper's new visa requirements for Mexicans entering Canada will also result in increased illegal immigration with its resulting exploited labour pool.

Meanwhile US companies like Smithfield Farms relocated their hog and chicken factory farming operations into Mexico where environmental and safety regulations were less stringent, resulting in the deplorable livestock conditions and subsequent contamination of groundwater that is a possible cause of the swine flu pandemic, more appropriately called the NAFTA flu.

In Canada, the secretive undemocratic corporate-led leaders’ SPP meetings have resulted in a cross-border harmonization of regulations that have weakened civil liberties and labour and environmental safeguards in exchange for ... increasingly militarized border regions.

Something to remember when the smiling glad-handing photo ops in front of flags appear in the media over the next couple of days. The SPP may currently be on life support but we'll still recognize that sucker when the bandages come off.
The trilateral Task Force on Renegotiating NAFTA has a better idea.

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