Free trade, but at what cost?

The North American Free Trade Agreement, in its 20 years of existence, has proved more of a burden than a blessing for millions. While those in the United States is striving to achieve the American dream, Mexicans are suffering incredible losses on their home front due to the effects of NAFTA, causing them to emigrate while striving for the same dream.

NAFTA has forged an increase in exported corn to Mexico, affecting Mexico’s agriculture industry. More than 1 million campesino farmers suffered from the trade policy through the destruction of their livelihoods and consequently their lives. From the poverty-stricken families and individuals to those in the top 1 percent of the economy, the wealth distribution gap within the country of Mexico has seen drastic growth since NAFTA, leaving the poor more poor and the wealthy more wealthy. Real wages have fallen significantly throughout Mexico while the prices of consumer goods continue to increase, a direct cause of the unjust distribution growth. According to a Public Citizen report released this month, “A minimum wage earner in Mexico today can buy 38 percent fewer consumer goods as on the day that NAFTA took effect.” Thus, more than half of the Mexican population lies below the poverty line, making life difficult and sustainability near-impossible.

To Americans, the American dream is little more than a societal norm, but to those from Mexico emigrating for a better future, the American dream is a lifelong aspiration, full of enduring times and hardships. These hardships in their home country have developed to undesirable levels due to the effects of NAFTA. While the entrance into our country becomes more hostile, and the blame is placed on others, it might be time to take a look in the mirror at what our own policy of NAFTA is creating — or destroying.