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In Juarez City, farmers will form a human wall in highway crossings along the border

The protests will begin the first minute of the year for the opening of the grain market
This is a rough English translation of:

Enciso L., Angélica. “En Cuidad Juárez campesinos formarán una muralla humana en cruces fronterizos.” La Jornada. December 27, 2007.

I’m sure I have made some mistakes, so if others catch anything that needs to be corrected, feel free to post corrections below. Thank you.

Eve White

“Catastophe? This has been happening since NAFTA began.”

Angélica Enciso L.

In the first minute of 2008, farmers and consumers will make a human wall on the international bridges of Juarez City-El Paso, Texas, the route of grain imports, to reject the complete opening of the corn and bean market in the context of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has left agriculture in a state of crises and food dependence, where 40 percent of the food comes from the United States, stated Miguel Colunga, from the Chihuahua Farmers’ Democratic Front.

Because of this crisis the price of the tortilla has gone up 700 percent, the price of beef and chicken 70 percent, stated Max Correa, director of the Cardenista Campesina Center (CCC), who called on the federal governement to create a new social pact to “permit the governability of the country” before the next complete opening of the agricultural sector.

In the context of the National Campaign in Defense of Food Sovereignty and the Revival of the Mexican Fields “Without Corn There is No Country,” 300 farm, environmental, and human rights organizations who participate will create the human wall on January first, on the five border bridges of Juarez City where grain shipments pass from the United States, Colunga explained.

In a telephone interview he described that this protest is part of a campaign that began July 25th with the goal of stopping the complete opening of the corn, bean, powdered milk, and sugar cane market, and to call to Congress and the federal government to begin a process of renegotiation of the agricultural portion of NAFTA.

The objective, he explained, is to maintain the wall until January 2, but “it’s possible that public forces will intervene, because the border is very protected.” He indicated that in addition to the Mexican organizations, he hoped to see the participation of Canadian and United States groups.

In the past 14 years, he explained, the rural sector has deteriorated, which has contributed to migration; around 6 million Mexicans have left their farmland, “poverty is concentrated in the communities, where only elderly people, children, and women live; land is not being cultivated because very little is being rented, it’s very expensive to rent and produce but very cheap to sell.” In the case of bean production, he said, in 1997 250,000 tons were produced, but now Mexico only produces 50,000 tons.

Add to this the inflation of prices of up to 30 percent in basic necessity products in 2008, stemming from the high price of gasoline, diesel, and electricity, Max Correa stated.

He said that a catastrophe in the rural sector is not expected as a result of the lifting of the tariffs, that this has already been happening since NAFTA was forced through. He said that the agricultural sector has lost around 5 million employees, and every day one farmer dies trying to cross the northern border.



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