The weekly newsletter of the México Solidarity Project
July 28, 2021/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team
Freedom has never been free. The Africans enslaved in Haiti had to battle against all odds to get free from the shackles of French colonial rulers, who wanted to afford their owning class the benefit of free labor. But that freedom came with a heavy price that they continue to pay for the unimaginable affront of being a black people that defeated a white people and for the fear their freedom raised among all white supremacist nations.
Europe and its prodigal son, the United States, have continued to invent new ways to deny non-white peoples and nations the freedom to govern themselves. In the most recent “free” trade agreement, the USMCA, México has still not become an equal partner.
One of the most egregious provisions of “NAFTA 1.0” allowed foreign companies to sue national governments for infringing on their freedom to make enormous profits, even when their activities would destroy natural and human resources, as Manuel Perez-Rocha explains in this week’s issue. The new USMCA ends that provision for the US and Canada, but not for the US and México. US corporations can still challenge and threaten Mexican sovereignty.
The US and Mexican reactions to recent protests in Cuba perfectly illustrate the different foreign policy principles these two countries apply to situations that involve a nation’s freedom to govern itself. President Biden supports political intervention in favor of those who want to be “free” from a socialist government. President López Obrador, as we note below, sees Cubans needing the “freedom” from the US blockade that would allow food and medicine to get to their island nation.
US policy continues to coerce governments of the Americas to follow the dictates of the “land of the free.” México’s policy? Send food and medical aid where needed, without interfering in other nations’ sovereignty.
Manuel Pérez-Rocha, a dual Mexican and US citizen, has been a long-time member of the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade and has led efforts to promote just and sustainable alternative approaches to trade and investment agreements over the past two decades. An associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and an associate of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam, Pérez-Rocha co-edited the comprehensive 2019 trade analysis, Beyond NAFTA 2.0. He also writes regularly for the Mexican daily La Jornada.
The original NAFTA let foreign firms sue governments that put in place policies that benefit their own people, on the claim that these policies limit foreign profit. How did NAFTA do that?