What Mexican Middle Class? NAFTA Surely Didn't Create One

Back in the early 1990s, the North American Free Trade pact, in its supporters' eyes, held great promise, especially for Mexicans who would be lifted out of poverty and into prosperity as their nation became more industrialized, causing wages to rise and reducing flight to the United States. Twenty years later, over half live in impoverished conditions, and illegal immigration continues on. So much for the new Mexican middle class. It barely exists.

From 2006 to 2011, more than 12 million Mexicans fell into poverty. Roughly 50,000 died of malnutrition, twice the number of Mexicans killed in the country's raging drug war. Just a few years ago, prognosticators were concerned that Mexico would become a "failed state," notes a recent Truth-Out column.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. however. has declared our south-of-the-border neighbor -- "the more dominant economic powers of the 21st century." What gives? Who's right?

Not Friedman. His grand declaration is entrenched in "superficial assumptions," according to Truth-Out.

"The small signs of economic recovery in Mexico are grounded largely on the return of maquiladora factories from China, where wages have been increasing as Mexican wages have stagnated. Under-cutting China on labor costs is hardly something to celebrate. This trend is nothing but the return of the same "free-trade" model that has failed the Mexican people for 20 years," the column states.

Even in manufacturing, where workers were supposed to see the highest increases in wages as a result of NAFTA, they're making one-half and one-third,respectively of what their Brazilian and Argentinian peers are -- at less than $5 an hour.

One thing is for certain: jobs selling gum and trinkets to tourists are plentiful. In fact, it's a booming career field.

NAFTA -- what a waste. That's why pursuing TPP is just plain wrong. If we couldn't get NAFTA right, what makes us think we'll get a more complicated trade pact with increasing numbers of partners right?

Read all about it: http://bit.ly/ZQFG2c.