Tag Archives: NAFTA

Mexico’s Poor Seek Relief From Tortilla Shortage

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Part six of a special series that explores the local faces of the world’s worst food crisis in decades.

During a protest in México City in January 2008, 28-year-old secretary Anibel Ordonez was one of many chanting “Tortillas si, Pan no!” while waving some of the flat corn disks in the air.

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Mexico’s Corn Farmers

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It’s been 14 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect. Farm trade between the United States and Mexico immediately soared. It’s now four times what it was the year before NAFTA was signed. Two weeks ago, the few remaining trade restrictions on farm goods were dropped. U.S. officials is calling the move a win for farmers in both countries. But the reaction south of the border is quite different. Mexican farmers are taking to the streets in protest. The World’s Lorne Matalon reports from Xochimilco, Mexico.

Matalon: Under a cobalt sky and blinding sun, Rafael Avila moves slowly along a dusty brown path between 10 ft stalks of corn. Tending his 6 acres, he grips a small silver machete as he harvests corn grown from seeds that trace their lineage to the Aztec and Maya cultures. In Mexico there’s a saying. “Sin maiz, no hay pais.” ‘Without corn there’s no country.’ But Avila says small farmers now demanding that NAFTA be renegotiated are missing the point. Avila blames the Mexican government which he says has ignored small farmers since NAFTA was signed in 1994.

Avila: “If we don’t have the weapons to compete, Mexico is dead. We will not advance as a nation.”

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