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Nafta: A Brief Introduction

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NAFTA: A Brief Introduction

On January 1, 1994, history was made when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. NAFTA is in a sense a Trojan horse, attractive outwardly but filled with a host of unpleasant surprises. In simple terms, NAFTA is a treaty between Canada, Mexico, and the United States to make the transportation of goods, services, and capital across national boundaries more "hassle-free". Sounds perfect until you take a closer look. NAFTA promises a lot of benefits but these benefits come at a high price. The truth about NAFTA is that it is a clever deception.

One of the results of NAFTA is that hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their jobs when American corporations moved their factories "hassle-free" to Mexico, where wages are lower, unions have less power, and environmental regulations are more relaxed. Crops from U.S. agricultural businesses are exported to Mexico and sold at such low prices that many Mexican farmers are unable to compete and consequently lose their land. Desperate Mexican workers who get jobs in the newly built American factories receive very low pay, and are forced to work long hours. Also, they are threatened when they try to stand up for their rights. The lack of environmental protection in Mexico has led to increased air and water pollution in that country, especially along the U.S. and Mexican borders.

Of course another major problem that arises is border patrol. In the attempt to create a more "hassle-free" environment for trading we also make it easier for drug smugglers as well. When NAFTA was first set into motion, unfortunately there were no new standards instituted for better border control. Whenever a country's borders are opened to enhance trade, it becomes easier to move illegal substances between borders. Along with the power and benefits of increased trade comes greater responsibility, but in the case of NAFTA the increased responsibility was ignored.

Perhaps the most disastrous part of NAFTA is its direct assault on democracy. It's a "trade agreement from hell," according to the consumer group Public Citizen. Corporations can now use the NAFTA treaty to overturn



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