Protests In Mexico Push Country To Brink Of Revolution And Nobody's Talking About It
Much like the U.S., the Mexican government is susceptible to corporate influence. It just so happens that the most influential corporate entities in Mexico are drug cartels — and it’s hard for the government to reign in entities that fund and infiltrate it. Similar to the phenomenon of “regulatory capture,” the Mexican government is at least partially funded and co-opted by drug cartels. This festering problem is an underlying factor in the current civil unrest in Mexico.
Neoliberal policies left the working class behind
NAFTA was a contentious issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but it’s just as controversial in Mexico, if not more so. The grand 1994 “free trade” scheme, signed into law by Bill Clinton, saw a dramatic redesign of both the U.S. and Mexican economic landscapes. Corn farmers, long a vital factor in Mexico’s peasant farming economy, were wiped out by low-priced corn subsidized by the U.S. government, which immediately flooded Mexican markets after NAFTA was passed. The Mexican immigration crisis at the U.S.’ southern border soon followed.
Meanwhile, manufacturing plants soon began moving into Mexico from the U.S. to take advantage of extremely cheap labor — leaving many workers in the U.S. out of a job. American agricultural corporations like Driscoll’s have recently come under fire for employing slave-like labor conditions to produce boutique organic fruit for U.S. consumers. Protests for workers rights in Mexico, which recently raised its minimum wage to 80 pesos (~$4) per day, are often met with heavy-handed police crackdowns.
Incoming President Trump has capitalized on two issues caused by NAFTA — the immigration crisis and outsourcing of U.S. jobs — and his reactionary protectionist economic policies will undoubtedly make Mexico’s predicament even worse.
Mexico’s nationalized oil conglomerate, Pemex, has been plagued by falling production for years. Corruption, which is inherent to state-run institutions, has condemned Mexico’s gas industry to inefficiency and stalled innovation. Theft has become a widespread issue, and oil workers were recently caught red-handed siphoning gas directly out of pipelines.
Supposedly to ramp up production and lower prices, the Mexican government pushed through neoliberal privatization schemes in 2013 and 2014, which were backed by U.S. oil interests and incubated by the Hillary Clinton-run State Department. President Enrique Peña Nieto promised the reforms would result in increased production and lower fuel prices, though production has fallen and prices spiked 20 percent on January 1st. Prices are expected to rise even further, as fuel subsidies will be completely phased out by March 2017. Peña Nieto claims the prices must go up to match international prices, though consumers in the U.S. currently pay less for gas than Mexicans.