- We, the people of Mexico,
also want to renegotiate NAFTA to protect our corn, the jobs of millions
of farmers, and the way of life in the Mexican countryside
- Towards a new era of cooperation
between the people of Mexico and the United States, based on respect
for our sovereignty, dignity, and right to sustainable development
- We ask President Obama
for a dialogue on NAFTA
Honorable Barack Obama
President of the
United States of America
1. President Obama,
Welcome to Mexico
On the occasion of your
visit to our country, we welcome you in the name of farmers', human
rights, environmental, and sustainable development organizations, as
well as the thousands of citizens that participate in the National
Campaign Without Corn there is no Country.
The hope of the people
of the United States, and their brave decision to end the Bush administration
and elect you as president of the United States, represents for the
people of Mexico as well a hope that we will end the era of neoliberalism
and simulated democracy, guided by the hands of large corporations.
We hope to advance towards a new era of cooperation between our people
and take up the task of pursuing sustainable human development and rights.
The National Campaign
Without Corn there is no Country is a plural, grassroots initiative
that hopes to recoup for Mexico the right to food security sovereignty,
the right of our farmers to mantain their way of life, the right to
food for every member of our population, and the right to preserve the
genetic and cultural patrimony of our native corn varieties. We
consider the renegotiation of the agricultural chapter of NAFTA a necessary,
but not sufficient step towards these ends.
2. President Felipe
Calderón does not speak the truth about NAFTA
You come here to meet
with President Felipe Calderón. Surely you will not have the opportunity
to meet with representatives of civil society. This limited opportunity
for dialogue is the motivation for our letter.
We believe that President
Felipe Calderón does not legitimately represent the Mexican people
and won't tell you the truth about NAFTA and its dramatic negative
impact on the economy, society, and environment in the Mexican countryside,
as well as rest of the country's access to critical food resources.
On the contrary, President
Calderón represents the interests of the largest corporations, particularly
the agribusinesses, and pretends to "counsel" you, as he did before
in Buenos Aires and Washington, that NAFTA has benefited our people,
and Mexico, and that you should continue to deepen this failed model
of free trade.
3. The truth behind
NAFTA and its negative impact on rural Mexico
The truth about NAFTA
and its economic, social, and environmental impact is different from
what Calderón will tell you, and you, president Obama, should know
- Mexican emigration to the
United States has gone up in the 15 years since NAFTA went into effect.
During this time, six million Mexicans immigrated to the United States,
tripling the average of the pre-NAFTA years, and reaching five hundred
thousand Mexicans per year. Weren't we promised that, with NAFTA,
this pattern would stop, as it was the result of a lack of opportunity
in Mexico and the asymmetry in salaries and labor conditions? Instead,
doesn't the continued and increased immigration represent irrefutable
evidence of the failure of NAFTA?
- Of the 11.9 millions of undocumented
people in the United States, 7 million are of Mexican origin.
- In the fifteen years of NAFTA,
more Mexicans have died trying to reach the United States than Germans
trying to cross over the Berlin Wall.
- The Mexican government has
renounced its obligation to guarantee the development of the countryside
and the production of food that had been promised as a supposed benefit
of NAFTA and the end to the use of the "escape valve" that represents,
on the one hand, migration to the United States, and, on the other,
the income generated by the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics.
In the Mexican countryside, millions of farmers lack employment opportunities
as a result of U.S. dumping, the control of the large corporations,
and the absence of a sound Mexican policy addressing agricultural production
and sustainable development.
- With the implementation of
NAFTA, Mexico lost its food self-sufficiency. Our country now
imports 42% of the food it consumes, representing US$22.5 billion and
an agricultural trade deficit of US$5.5 billion (2008); we import food
and export millions of farmers and members of our rural communities.
- Dumping, including the importation
of genetically modified corn, without control, and the Mexican government's
irresponsible decision to promote the sowing of genetically modified
corn in Mexico --corn's center of origin and diversity-- is affecting
the way of life of millions of farmers and rural communities and the
part of Mexican culture that is created and sustained through our food.
This only serves to improve the sales and purposes of Monsanto. You
cannot separate food from the way it is produced, acquired, and consumed.
A study on genetically modified corn in Mexico produced by the North
American Commission on Environmental Cooperation, and conducted by Dr.
Jose Sarukhán, recommended, among other things, that corn imported
from the United States should be immediately ground as a measure to
prevent its incorporation into the human food chain and protect native
seeds from contamination. Furthermore, genetically modified seeds are
contaminating the dozens of races and thousands of varieties of native
corn that represent our genetic patrimony and an invaluable cultural
resource, not only for Mexico, but for all of humanity. More than simply
being the way we consume nutrients, calories, and protein, food is culture,
it is identity; adequate nourishment is culture. As current White House
food and backyard gardening practices show, we are confident that you
are already well aware of these issues and we congratulate and appreciate
the commitment to healthy, organic and locally produced food that your
Administration has demonstrated. Right now, we want to be able to dialogue
about promoting the same healthy eating and growing practices in Mexico,
and ask for your support across the border.
- The prices of the basic basket
of goods have increased ten-fold in the fifteen years of NAFTA. In the
period of the administration of president Calderón alone they have
increased 70%. While 65% of the Mexican population lives in poverty,
our salaries have lost 70% of their purchasing power, more than 7.3
million Mexicans are unemployed in the first trimester of this year,
and more than 55% of the economically active population works in the
informal sector, without social security. Hunger stops being a mystery
we need to explain through human decisions; the physical and economic
access to food has stopped being a right. Hunger and malnutrition are
a problem caused not by a lack of resources, but rather by a failure
in the nutritional quality of the goods available, as well as their
quantity and cultural acceptability, both of which affect our quality
of life and human dignity.
- Mexico is a country of malnourished
people, where the right to food is systematically violated. On one side,
20 million Mexicans are under-nourished and suffer from anemia. As in
sub-Saharan Africa, they are principally children under five-years-old
who live in rural areas and are members of indigenous communities. On
the other hand 70% of Mexicans suffer from obesity due to the consumption
of junk food (and drink) produced by the largest food companies. We
have the second highest levels in the word of obesity and soft drink
- It is concerning that the
farmers' organizations that are defending their rights, the right
to food of all of the Mexicans, fighting against the planting of genetically
modified corn, and against the large agricultural and food corporations,
are being persecuted by the authorities who invent crimes of which to
accuse them. This criminalizes the right to defend our economic, social,
cultural, and environmental rights.
- With NAFTA, the plundering
of land and natural resources in indigenous and rural communities intensified.
This has generated more poverty in the rural areas of Mexico. The land
is used for large investments projects (dams, highways, airports, agro-industrial
parks, etc) run by transnational or para-statal groups, and administered
by private companies. These companies systematically violate the human
rights of the population and the international agreements signed by
Mexico, including article 169 of the OIT for indigenous communities
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- President Calderón says
that NAFTA is working; the 20 largest corporations that control the
system of agro-industry in Mexico agree. Nevertheless, the majority
of Mexicans think otherwise, confirmed by a recent study. 73% of Mexicans
and 72% of their leaders think that Mexico should renegotiate NAFTA,
and more than any other part, the agricultural chapter.
- Thanks to the neoliberal
social and economic policies that have deepened with NAFTA, inequality
in Mexico has gone up (the richest 10% of the population controls 65%
of our national wealth; president Calderón can boast the proud record
of having one of the richest men in the world as a Mexican while at
the same time we have the lowest growth rate of all of Latin American
and the Caribbean).
- In sum, NAFTA was negotiated
by and for the large corporations of North America. In Mexico, NAFTA
was negotiated badly and implemented even worse.
- We have lost our sovereignty
and become a dependent country; the agreement has only benefited large
corporations and a small minority of agro-exporters, making losers of
our farmers, our workers, and our environment.
At the same time, President
Obama, the lack of security and the growth of organized crime that worry
us so much have been the result of the following causes: 1) lack of
job opportunities, adequate salaries, and education for millions; 2)
increasing inequality; 3) corruption and impunity; 4) a failure of credibility
on the part of the government and its institutions that that only represent
interest groups and defend the privileged; and 5) a failed, unilateral,
partial and superficial strategy based on militarization.
As long as he continues
to ignore the economic, social and institutional causes of the source
of organized crime, the strategy of President Calderón will continue
4. Our proposal for
the renegotiation of NAFTA and the construction of a new era of cooperation
for sustainable development
As the preceding points
have made clear, we believe that it is critical to negotiate NAFTA not
only for the people of the United States —as you yourself articulated
in your presidential campaign— but also for the people of Mexico.
We put before you, the
Congress, and the people of the United States the following points to
build a new era of cooperation between our people with the purpose of
promoting sustainable development and a respect for human rights as
well as the sovereignty of each of our countries:
I. Renegotiate NAFTA
to recuperate our sovereignty and food security,
for the right to preserve our own varieties of native corn without contamination
by genetically modified seeds; for the right to produce our own food;
for the right to maintain the work and way of life of three million
corn growers and their families; for the right to the existence and
value of our cultural and identity as a people of corn; for the right
to sustainable human development in the Mexican countryside.
a tri-national cooperation agreement
for agricultural development and human development in rural areas, including
creating a fund for structural investment and social cohesion, the prohibition
of disloyal exports, and the suppression of protectionist non-tariff
barriers disguised as food safety regulation.
Promote a tri-national process of public debate
between the administrations, congressional representatives, and civil
society, based on cooperation and working towards sustainable human
development, economic social, cultural, and environmental rights, and
the rights of workers, farmers, and migrants, as well as democratic
principles, to establish an alternative to the failed model of NAFTA.
Promote immigration reform in the United States
that permits legalization of the undocumented workers, opposes a wall
along the border, and does not criminalize those in the United States
Declare, in addition to everything else, a moratorium on the Alliance
for Security and Prosperity of North America. We say "no" to
the militarization of the border. The growing power of organized crime
in Mexico is a product of inequality, the lack of employment opportunities
and a dignified life for the majority of the Mexicans, largely from
the countryside, and the lack of a government that responds to their
needs, rights, and dreams.
To expand on what we
have written, we would be grateful for the opportunity to begin a direct
dialogue with you and your Administration.
Won't Take It Anymore
Without Corn there
is No Country
Food for Mexico