Cynthia McKinney speaks on ‘free trade’ in Mexico
Published Jul 20, 2008 8:38 PM
The following excerpts are from a recent talk made by Cynthia
McKinney, Green Party presidential candidate in the United States. The
statement was sent out on June 27th by the International Liaison Committee of
Workers & Peoples (ILC) based in San Francisco. Go to
www.organicconsumers.org to read the statement in its entirety.
In early April 2008, I participated in the Second Continental
Workers’ Conference in Mexico City. I was honored to have been a keynote
speaker at the conference’s opening night rally at the hall of the
Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).
I learned that a powerful united front now exists in Mexico against the
NAFTA-inspired privatizations that will result in the theft of Mexico’s
patrimony in natural resources.
The Mexican Congress was shut down by the real opposition that they have in
Mexico. The PEMEX Privatization bill was supposed to have passed by now.
Mexico’s Congress adjourned without passing it. Score one for the
One of the leading papers in Mexico City had a photo of the Chamber of Deputies
of the Mexican Congress with an unfurled banner covering the Speaker’s
Rostrum, proclaiming the Chamber “Closed.” The banner was hung by
elected members of the Mexican Congress who constitute the Frente Amplio
Progresista that has dared to draw a line in the sand against U.S.-inspired
legislation introduced to allow foreign corporate ownership of PEMEX,
Mexico’s state-owned oil company.
I wrote my Master’s thesis on the “Idea of Nation.” And to
see the women, in their T-shirts and kerchiefs, so committed to their country,
their nation, their identity. To them, that’s Mexico’s oil, natural
gas, electricity, land and water, and it ought to be used by the Mexican people
first and foremost for their own national development. But, sadly, it’s
the public policy emanating from Washington, D.C., that threatens that.
According to Greg Palast, the U.S. corporation involved in the Mexican move was
none other than that now infamous Georgia-based company: Choicepoint.We know
that in Florida, Choicepoint, then doing business as DataBase Technologies,
constructed an illegal convicted felons list of 94,000 names, many of whom were
neither convicted nor felons. But if your name appeared on that list, you were
stopped from voting. Greg Palast tells us that for most of the names on that
list, their only crime was “Voting While Black.”
Under a special “counter-terrorism” contract, the U.S. FBI obtained
Mexican and Venezuelan voter files through Choicepoint of all the countries
that have progressive presidents. Many Mexicans went to the polls to vote for
their President, only to find that their names had been scrubbed from the voter
list, and they were not allowed to vote. So now, not only in the United States,
but in Mexico, too, one can show up to vote and not be sure that that vote was
counted, or worse, one can show up duly registered to vote and not even be
allowed to vote.
I guess this is the way we allow our country to now export democracy.
Unlike in the United States in 2000, Mexico City was shut down for five months
in 2006 when Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s Al Gore, refused to concede and,
instead, formed a shadow government.
The issue in the 2006 Mexican election was privatization of Mexico’s oil.
Teachers on strike at the same time as the presidential elections in Oaxaca,
one of the poorest states in Mexico, began their political movement as a call
for increased teacher salaries and against privatization of schools. Tens of
thousands of citizens joined them and took over the central city of that state.
Today, after Mexico has added teachers and those who support teachers to its
growing ranks of “political prisoners,” teachers are still
protesting their conditions and the reprisals taken against them for striking,
and now the teachers’ union is a committed part of the national
mobilization against privatization of PEMEX.
I was invited to participate in the Second Continental Workers Conference. The
first meeting was held in La Paz, Bolivia. And so people from all over Mexico
and eight different countries told of their struggles, their hopes, their
ideals, their values, their patriotism, their desire for peace/no more war.
Representatives from Chiapas, another one of Mexico’s poorest states,
told us of the indigenous struggle for land and self-determination, the
low-intensity warfare waged against them, and how now they, too, count
themselves a part of the national mobilization against PEMEX privatization.
While I was there, mine workers had taken over the mines, and so could only
send a handful of inspiring representatives. They are pressing for the right to
unionize, denied to them by the government. And the mine workers are part of
the solid front forming in Mexico to protect this powerful idea of nation.
Today’s front page of La Jornada says that the women, who marched 10,000
strong on the day that I was there, have renewed their protests and civil
disobedience. The threat of violence and bloodshed is very real.
Now, why should this massive social, political and economic upheaval in Mexico,
aside from its human rights implications, be important to us up here in the
Because the sad truth of the matter is that, in many respects, it is our
military and economic policies that are causing it. Of course, I recognize that
all the way back to the practice of Manifest Destiny and the declaration of the
Monroe Doctrine, U.S. policy decisions have at times sent shock waves to places
outside our borders. You could say that the modern version of that is
In 1993, the Democratic majority in the United States Congress supported
then-President Bill Clinton’s push for passage of the North American Free
Trade Agreement. The stated purpose of the legislation was to remove barriers
to trade and investment that existed in North America. The objective was to
lift all boats in Canada, the United States, and Mexico through trade and
investment. But the result has been the stripping away and transfer of
Mexico’s patrimony in terms of its natural and human resources. And the
Mexican people are taking a stand against it. They are taking the same stand
that the little people in Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua,
Ecuador and Argentina have taken.
I happened to vote against NAFTA, and I’m glad for that. Imagine if we in
the United States were as certain of the possibility of peaceful change through
the vote as were the people of Haiti, Mexico—despite having their
election stolen from them—Venezuela and the rest. Then we would vote
members of Congress out of office who support Plan Colombia. We would vote
members of Congress out of office who support Plan Mexico—which, like its
Colombian counterpart, is the military answer to the cry of the people for
dignity, self-determination and that idea of patria.
Cynthia McKinney is a former six-term member of the U.S. Congress from the state of Georgia.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE