By Workers’ Voice (U.S.) and Corriente Socialista de los Trabajadores (Mexico)
The visit, within the framework of the North American Summit of Governments, announced for last December, has been postponed to Jan. 9-11, 2023. The imperialist representatives of the U.S. and Canada will arrive in Mexico. Why are they coming? With what objectives are the illustrious vultures, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau, arriving?
The official “agenda,” which as always happens with the secrecy and hypocrisy of capitalist diplomacy, hides the magnitude of the issues and the depth of the controversies. The meetings will in fact be between business managers of multinational corporations and local oligarchs. Like the previous meetings, they will fine tune the measures for the plundering of natural and energy resources and the exploitation of the cheap labor force of Mexico and the Central American region. In addition, in order for the mechanism of semi-colonial domination to continue to function “safely,” Mexico’s role in pressing political and military “hemispheric” issues will be adjusted according to the demands of the empire.
The relationship of dependence and semi-colonial domination of Mexico by the U.S. (and to a lesser extent by Canada), is a determining factor. Although its forms have changed at different times in history, depending on the world situation and the appearances kept by some Mexican governments, this domination has existed since the U.S. invasion of 1846-48, which took more than half of Mexico’s territory from the country. It is not surprising that the Mexican government, as well as those of the U.S. and Canada, also falsify this evident reality, defining that the relations between our countries “are of total respect for our sovereignty and cooperation for development.”
What sovereignty and cooperation are we talking about? Instead of the old NAFTA, today we have a United States, Mexico, and Canada Agreement (USMCA), signed by Peña Nieto and Trump in 2018, with the fervent support of then newly elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). It is a treaty that renews and reinforces the plunder, perpetrated for 25 years with NAFTA, signed in December 1992 by George H. W. Bush, president of the United States, Brian Mulroney, the Canadian prime minister, and by the Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Today we have, signed by AMLO and Ebrard with Biden, a Bicentennial Understanding, which is a simple change of name from the “Merida Treaty,” signed in 2009 by Presidents Felipe Calderón and Barack Obama. Changing the names and signatories does not affect the harsh conditions of commercial and economic domination of Mexico by the U.S. and Canada.
The harsh truth is that there is no “transformation” possible without denouncing and fighting the national domination that Mexico suffers— domination that is concealed and maintained by the government of the dominated country, with a false sovereign discourse. This domination is upheld by the current opposition in the U.S. and Canada, the Republicans of all stripes and by all the “ministers,” formally subject to appointment by the British crown. Not surprisingly, it is also vindicated by the current Mexican opponents of the PRI, PAN, MC, PRD, who only aspire to return to being the overseers of plunder, colonization and super-exploitation, as they have been for many decades.
Mexico in the U.S. competition with China
This is not a routine visit from the boss to his servants. It takes place in the context of the current U.S. trade war against China. Through this war, U.S. capital is trying to reinforce its hegemony. It is also trying to provide a solution to the way in which the global fall in capitalist rates of profit is affecting it. These efforts can be summed up in three policies: the trade and commodity control war against China; the repatriation of production either to the U.S. itself or to its nearby dependencies, to solve problems of rates of profitability and supply chains; and the search for fossil or renewable energy sources.
Mexico plays a key role in all three of these policies, as a viable location to which U.S. companies can move production for U.S. markets rather than continuing to produce in China. It is also an energy producer. Thus, during his visit, Biden will be a stalwart representative of the demands of U.S. renewable and fossil energy companies seeking to take over these resources in Mexico, further liberalizing U.S. capital participation in the sector and advancing its eventual appropriation.
Another issue to be addressed in this context is the regulations regarding the production of electric automotive parts and what export “privileges” the U.S. will gain to ensure duty-free access to these materials. The U.S. seeks to encourage the delegation of Mexican parts production under the most advantageous conditions for its own automotive companies, further deepening the dependence of this sector in Mexico. When they talk about creating a single productive area with Mexico and Canada, Biden and his proxies have no equality among producers in mind.
Mexico’s current government continues to represent—now in the manner of the “Fourth Transformation” touted by AMLO—the interests of the major oligarchs (such as Carlos Slim’s Telmex-Carso), which aspire to play a greater role in other markets in the continent, including Cuba, Venezuela, and Peru. With that assignment, AMLO seeks to play the role of an “independent” Latin American figure, a regional political leader, yes, but at the service of the hegemonic imperialist power in crisis. Part of that script is his declared “geopolitical” ambition to supplant China with Mexico’s cheap labor force at the service of U.S. capital.
“The meeting with President Biden will be very important for that reason, because we are going to propose a plan for the development of all Latin America and the Caribbean,” to achieve the “self-sufficiency of America,” AMLO has stated. He will propose “a plan to substitute imports and produce in America, first in North America, but in the medium term in all of America, what we consume.” This is more semi-colonial dependence, adorned with phrases like the “Alliance for Progress,” promoted by John F. Kennedy.
The “agenda” is the bosses’ orders
The press of Dec. 28, 2022, reported that “although the agenda items for the 2023 Summit are still being worked on, it is expected that the immigration issue and fentanyl trafficking will be put on the table, since it must be remembered that Mexico agreed to host the Venezuelan migrants who illegally enter the U.S.” The assignments for the local overseers, the Mexican governments, AMLO included, consist not only of administering the looting of the country and the exploitation of Mexican workers with the USMCA, within the three countries. The U.S. also requires them to be the guards of their southern border to stop the avalanche of migrants, who arrive after being pushed by the extreme misery, social decomposition, and violence of Central American, Caribbean, and other Latin American governments. That is why AMLO created the Mexican National Guard, which for more “efficiency” is now commanded by the Army.
The U.S. has also put the corn issue on the agenda, through a complaint against Mexico in the framework of the USMCA about the (already weak) barriers against the importation of corn into Mexico, this time of transgenic corn for human consumption. Not content with the disastrous impact of NAFTA on the Mexican countryside, the U.S. is seeking to burst any remaining impediments to the appropriation of land and water in agriculture, and natural resources in general.
Cleaning up the hacienda on the eve of the visit
As part of the mise en scene, by “mere coincidence,” three days before the visit, the spectacular and violent operation for the capture and extradition to the United States of the drug trafficker Ovidio “Mouse” Guzman, son of “Chapo,” took place in Culiacan, Sinaloa. López Obrador has spent four years proclaiming that his motto to eradicate drug trafficking was “hugs, not bullets.” However, in a single day his government unleashed a shootout and massacre with dozens of deaths between military and criminals, which plunged Sinaloa into anxiety and shocked Mexico and the world. Thus, AMLO complies with another fundamental demand of the United States: that Mexican governments guarantee the DEA the control over Mexico’s policies about drug trafficking. At issue at this moment are the production and trafficking of fentanyl.
For decades, the United States has been officially campaigning against drug trafficking. But this is nothing more than empty rhetoric. The U.S. has been making deals with prominent collaborators of the drug cartels, such as General “Padrino” Cienfuegos, the former head of the Secretariat of National Defense, who was accused of drug trafficking in U.S. courts but then allowed to return to Mexico with impunity after an agreement between Trump and AMLO.
AMLO will propose to Biden a “formula to reduce migration”
“We are going to address the issue in a structural way. We are proposing that there be a support program for countries with more poverty, with more need, so that people are not forced to migrate and we already have some examples of how it works to offer options to those who are forced to opt for migration,” the president of Mexico has stated.
While thousands of migrants are stranded and overcrowded in the border city of Tijuana, López Obrador revealed that migration will be one of the points he will address with Joe Biden, to whom he will present an “economic aid plan for Central American countries to prevent thousands of people from being forced to leave their nations in search of better life opportunities.” He insisted that his programs such as “Sowing Life” (Sembrando Vida) and “Youth Building the Future” (Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro) have not only succeeded in Mexico, but that their export to some parts of Central America has had positive results. In a new and reckless exercise of demagoguery, he will propose to Biden the possibility of financing this plan “to help reduce migration in the region.”
But nowadays, even more so in this stage of global crisis and economic recession, the laws of super-exploitation—that is, the extraction of greater surplus value—and plundering are functioning with the equation that for decades has maintained the economies of Mexico and Central American countries: the remittances of billions of dollars sent by exploited migrants in the United States and Canada. That is why they will negotiate “labor mobility,” granting work visas to cover the needs of big capital in the U.S. and Canada for cheap labor. Meanwhile, the Canadian and U.S. mining corporations continue to plunder and pollute as in the last three decades, during which they have taken more gold and silver than was plundered in the 300 years of Spanish colonial rule. And now they are going for the plundering of lithium, under the cover of clean energies.
The real way out to fight poverty in all of Latin America
Poverty will not vanish by bringing to Mexico or Latin America the production for the U.S. market now being done in China, as such a move would merely deepen the super-exploitation of the Mexican and Latin American masses inside and outside the United States. Nor will it happen by paying the usurious and fraudulent foreign debt. Poverty will continue as long as corrupt governments and parliaments that administer the profits of foreign corporations and their oligarchic partners remain in power. It will certainly worsen with the plundering of mining megaprojects and energy, water, and natural resources that collapse the environment.
The Mexican working class and Indigenous peoples have fought and continue to fight, despite these years of confusion, produced by the “transforming” simulation embodied by López Obrador. The workers of the maquiladoras of the border in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, have led massive strikes, overpowering their union bureaucracies. The Indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Coahuila, and Durango have confronted the infrastructural mega-projects of death. In factories such as General Motors, Silao and other automotive and auto-parts factories, there have been important processes of union reorganization. And a standard bearer of these struggles is the heroic strike of more than 1000 days by the workers of the state agency Notimex, headed by SutNotimex, facing the perverse attacks of AMLO’s government.
That is why we are convinced that the road to overcome poverty and subjugation will be with the borderless unity of the entire working class and the oppressed peoples and sectors of Mexico, the United States, Canada, and all America from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, to mobilize with a program of national independence and social liberation. That will be accomplished by establishing workers’ governments, which will cancel the payment of the fraudulent foreign debts to the World Bank and the IMF; expropriate all the big foreign and local companies and banks, and instead put those immense resources at the service of the needs of the workers and peoples of the entire American continent. These would be governments that dismantle the USMCA and the Bicentennial Understanding, and annul all the pacts of colonial subjugation.
Only in this way, by changing the semi-colonial capitalist superstructure that dominates imperialism, will it be possible to prevent “in a structural way” an avalanche of needy people who struggle to survive and find death and endless humiliations when they try to cross the walls and borders to realize the “American dream.”