Location Mexico Mexico

Binational Call Against ‘the Wall of Shame’

Shortly after 9/11, the administration of George W. Bush moved to tighten “border security,” ultimately leading to the adoption of the Secure Fence Act in October 2006 that created a fortified wall and a virtual fence (with sensors and cameras) over 700 miles of the 1,990-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

A policy of massive deportations, punctuated by workplace raids, accompanied the expansion of the border fence. Over the eight years of the Obama administration, more than 3 million people from Mexico and Central America were deported. During this same period, hundreds died of heat exhaustion in the burning Arizona desert trying to secure a better life for their families. Many more were gunned down by vigilantes, whose crimes often went unpunished.

Today, Donald Trump — in an openly racist drive to scapegoat immigrants for all the ills of a failed U.S. corporate economy — is proposing to build a wall over the entire border and increase the number of deportees to more than

700,000 per year, more than double the number under the Obama administration.

This Wall of Shame, as it is called on both sides of the border, is the outcome of more than 20 years of U.S.-imposed “free trade” policies (NAFTA and CAFTA, in particular) that have destroyed Mexico’s economy, turning a sovereign nation into one big maquiladora pass-through sweatshop for the transnational corporations. These policies have forced millions of Mexican and Central American peasants, workers, and youth to flee to the United States in the hope of finding a way to feed their families.

In Mexico, NAFTA has been the main weapon of the U.S. transnational corporations to promote so-called “reforms” — in reality counter-reforms — aimed at privatizing railroads, Mexico’s national oil corporation (PEMEX), telecommunications, electricity, mining, public education, and other public enterprises and services, including healthcare. NAFTA destroyed the nation’s agricultural production; today 45% of what is consumed in Mexico in basic products comes from abroad. Mexico now depends on the United States for beans, corn, rice, sugar, and wheat. NAFTA also destroyed Mexico’s meat industry; U.S. imports of meat have grown by 750 percent over the past 25 years.

These “free trade” policies have gone hand in hand with treaties aimed at militarizing Mexico’s police force to repress all social protest, which has not abated despite the mass killings of students in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, or teachers in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca. The “free trade” agreements have also provided the legal basis for destroying unions and collective-bargaining agreements, which — together with all public enterprises and services — are characterized as “barriers to ‘free trade’.”

It must be said and repeated: All U.S. administrations beholden to the corporate “free trade” agenda are responsible for the mass migration to the United States of workers, peasants, and youth from Mexico and Central America!

The Wall of Shame and NAFTA represent an assault of the sovereignty and people of Mexico, but they also represent an assault on workers and entire communities in the United States, where full-time jobs with benefits have been destroyed and unions have been dismantled under the bosses’ threats to shut down and outsource the plants to countries with lower wages south of the border.

Today, the Wall of Shame stands as a symbol of policies aimed at denying healthcare coverage to millions of people, preventing unions from organizing and defending their members (proposal to enact a federal “right-to-work” law), penalizing cities and states that prevent local police from collaborating with ICE (assault on sanctuary cities), and dismantling public education (through vouchers and the expansion of charter schools)

Today, Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are talking about “renegotiating NAFTA.” In some quarters, illusions have been sown that this could mean improvements for working people on both sides of the border. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Trump promised to break with Wall Street to help Main Street; instead he filled his cabinet with Wall Street execs. He promised to improve healthcare; instead, he is seeking to dismantle Medicaid and take away healthcare coverage from 23 million low-income people to line the pockets of his billionaire cronies. He promised to defend workers and their jobs; instead, by pushing a federal “right to work” (for less) law, he has set out to dismantle the only organizations through which workers are able to preserve their jobs and benefits: the trade unions.

Trump is out to “renegotiate NAFTA” — but only to benefit U.S. corporations, NOT to benefit workers in Mexico or the United States. The new agreement that Trump is pushing will only deepen the attacks on working people and their organizations, primarily their unions.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Peña Nieto has appointed Luis Videgaray as his foreign-relations secretary; he is the man who will be “renegotiating” NAFTA. Videgaray is Wall Street’s man in Mexico. As Peña Nieto’s former Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, he has implemented all the counter-reforms that are destroying the Mexican nation in the interests of the U.S. banksters and their Mexican junior partners. Rather than stand up to Trump to defend Mexico’s sovereignty, these country-selling politicians are offering to do Trump’s bidding, with an occasional whimper of protest (to save face).

More than ever, workers and youth need to reach out across the border and unite in an independent struggle to tear down the Wall of Shame, stop NAFTA and CAFTA, and stop and reverse all the policies emanating from the “free trade” corporate agenda. We have the same interests, and we are waging the same struggles to protect our interests as working people.

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