Is NAFTA good for rural Mexico?

On net, yes, but it is not simple:

…institutions such as NAFTA are problematic for many of the indigenous groups in Mexico.  While the economic case for free trade is a strong one, politics matters as well.  The long-run benefits of NAFTA, most of all for Mexico, are likely to dramatically outweigh the costs, but trade can worsen some political problems in the shorter run.

…greater wealth sometimes brings greater confiscation in response.  NAFTA, and economic development more generally, has attracted much foreign investment to Mexico.  The land in Guerrero is suddenly more valuable than before, or at least potentially so.  If better roads were in place, Oapan [the village] would be no more than two and a quarter hours from Mexico City.  The Mexican government therefore would like to get the villagers off the land, whether by legitimate means or not. 

The Mexican state and federal governments also favor foreign investment when the villagers do not.  Any foreign investment that came into Guerrero would likely involve significant payoffs, of one form or another, to the various levels of government involved.  The villagers would not expect to see any of this money.  NAFTA therefore has increased the conflict of interest between the villagers and higher levels of Mexican government. 

Here is my previous post on my new book, Markets and Cultural Voices: Liberty vs. Power in the Lives of Mexican Amate Painters.  You can (and should) buy it here.


Comments for this post are closed