Most, if not all migrants reaching USA’s borders in the past several years, are from Central America; with a certain percentage from Mexico. A very prosperous “industry” has flourished hence, to help them reach their desired destinations. The “coyote”, the men and their organizations, doing this kind of work, have amassed a considerable wealth, which they are forced to share with the drug northern cartels and even local Mexican frontier states’ police and officials. A shameful practice, that nobody seems to care or do anything about. The result: an unprecedented flux of mass migration, never seen before to the southwestern borders of the United States of America. Needless to say, this has, product-evaluation as it was to be expected, a reaction from the political apparatus thereof.
In considering the real causes of this phenomena, we must do an effort to go beyond the trodden simplistic explanation that migrants and their families go through of all its perils, in pursue of the so called “American Dream”. Truth is, that migrants could not care less, or have even heard of said refrain, which for some, has become like a mantra. At the end of the day, they just want to get out of their poverty, make some money and eventually, return to their respective countries.
So… what then is behind it all? Not long ago, and before the so called “Free Trade Agreements” were implemented in the American continent, specially North America Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA (encompassing: United States, Canada and Mexico ), and later Caribbean Free Trade Agreement -CAFTA-RD- (including most Central Americas’ republics, plus de Dominican Republic ); economic/agricultural conditions in these participating countries, were much different from today’s,. I must mention before going on, that interestingly, this particular treaty, was drafted and enacted, under the World Trade Organization’s rules-WTO -instead of being so, under the United Sates of America’s Law or Constitution, as should have been. This is a crucial most important consideration as will be explained henceforth, because some basic parameters of the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff – GATT (Under WTO), were never understood, respected, or fallowed by the negotiating officials of all participating countries, or even the EE.UU’s., Congress which enacted and ratified it, just as a Congressional agreement.
One in particular, and spectacularly significant: “The Equal Plain Field Rule”; which justifies and is the corners stones for an equilibrated, fair and good treaty, and requires logically, that countries signing, be in the same economic comparatively level, and observant of same rules as to workers rights, wages, customs procedures, international metrics ISOs, and human rights, among others ( they never are). It is my contention after having participated in the negotiations rounds, that said rule, not only was obviated but was deemed by the USA’s negotiators, as a handicap to their interests; specially, as we will see, in the agricultural sectors. “Why must we take this in considerations, when Central America’s agricultural production is so vastly different from ours”… I heard this said many times during the negotiations rounds.
Yet, it would have shown if observed, that even though, in was in part, correct, left out, would have enormous negative effects in terms of human impact, and on their very particular regional interests; specially, for the family oriented agricultures, and more so, in those three countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, (excepting: Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica and Belize).,
Why? Because prior to all these “free trade treatises”; in these countries, their agriculture, was based on the small 3-4 acres family corn farm production. First to feed family, and its surplus, to be sold and used to buy and supply other family necessities. This system had survived for literally thousands of years since the Mayan period, creating a certain sui generis agriculture, and the socio-economic fabric of their country. The treaty demolished this set up, specifically when the USA-after the treaty– dumped vast amounts of surplus subsidized corn, at prices difficult to compete with by local artisanal production. The unbalance that ensued, as will be explained, created the mass migrations we are observing lately.
A better analyzed and implemented CAFTA-RD, respecting these considerations, would have been, a tariffary revision within the HTS-Harmonized Tariff System, where at least, for the artisan/family corn production, of these only three countries, a protective tariff should have been levied and allowed, on US corn imports thereto; which is known to be subsidized, something is contrary to WTO’HTS’s standards. This would have saved the livelihood of thousands of rural families which now need to leave their lands, looking desperately for a way to survive. This is why they migrate naively, unknowing of its dangers, and its perils in transit; very much so, when with children.
“The Corn Factor”
This is obvious the crux of the migratory dilemma confronting not only the United States, and participating regional countries of said treatises, but for European Countries as well. After decades of exploitation by “Developed First Worlds Countries” of resources around the Globe, under all the known international treaties at least those must affecting us, the results are in: mass migration of human beings displaced one way or the other, by unfair practices within; disguised as WTO’s HTS, standards, of which the most violated is as already mentioned, the Equal Plain Field Rule. But to pin the ultimate responsibilities, in one country or the other, is not accurate. In this essay and because of its scope, it’s necessary to narrow it, to the results and mentioned considerations in NAFTA and CAFTA-RD.
It has deserved the World’s, and local media attention, no questions about it, the United States of America’s treatment and strict regulatory restriction of immigration, especially from Central America. And it happens, that most if not all, is the resulting product, mainly as we have said of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The presidential executive directives as to the handling of these immigrants, thought cruel and a bit inhuman as they may seem, most not deter us, from seeing the whole picture specifically, the important issue of responsibilities. Because it is my contention, that in any case, it must fall squarely, on all participating governments in these two treaties. The percentage, of which, I believe, can’t be based in any given mathematical formula, but ultimately perhaps, should derive from who was more benefitted or was more knowledgeable of the intrincueli and complexity of said agreements. I say this, because I have observed in regional negotiators, a high degree of lack of knowledge and savvy of the technicalities, in this case, of the WTO’s HTS standards, and its complex regulations; which logically, had a bearing on the results.
If the United States of America, benefitted most -agriculturally at least-so did in many other ways, those three Governments’ political apparatus, which then, were just plain traditional oligarchies, comprised of local wealthy influential families, which cashed in the different businesses dealing within CAFTA-RD. In the middle, they did nothing to address the problem that was created by the displacements of their artisan corn family agriculture, destroyed by their attitudes of deliberate ignoring their plight.
An observation of CAFTA-RD’s complaints filed by USA’s ITA’s office during the initial days of the treaty, shows an official preponderance mainly on the technical aspects of labor practices, which have always been the Achilles’ heels of all these Centro American nations, with the exception in a lesser degree, of Costa Rica and Panama; and up to the other day, with Nicaragua. But absolutely nothing regarding the question of the displacemt of farmers as aforementioned, or the lack of proper attention and supervision of their frontiers.
An additional element to be recognized, which differentiate these three countries’ migration from others, is their educational and socio-cultural profiles. Most comes from displaced indigenous corn farming communities. A big percentage are of a variety of Mayan dialects, with just a few Spanish speakers. They are mainly of poor or no education whatsoever; very naïve and ignorant of migratory realities. In their quest to migrate, most have sold the little land and their agricultural implements to pay the “Coyote ” who had them believe, that for a price of course, would be taken beyond their countries frontiers through Mexico and up North to the United Sates’ border where they would be received. Statistics show that originally, after the treaties, mainly males migrated, followed by some women. In the last couple of years, entire families, lastly children alone, and very recently, entire families with children in substantial numbers showing up at the USA’s borders. It is a real human tragedy of such proportions needing close International attention.
WHY FEWER MIGRANTS COME FROM
COSTA RICA, BELICE, PANAMA, NICARAGUA
“The Educational Factor”
Why fewer migrants come from Costa Rica, Belize, Panama or Nicaragua? Simply put: basic education. These are four countries investing heavily on education. Their citizens are therefore by far more educated, better prepared then, to earn a living far from the artisan family subsistence oriented corn agriculture; their countries’ political structures have ample sectorial participation with much better borders control policies and supervision. Their citizens are thus, less inclined to leave their countries. In other words: these countries have much less migratory pressure.
So..what can be possibly done to address this phenomena?
Accept that the Free Trade Agreements have created a displaced farming community in countries less prepared to benefit from them
This have produced mass Migrations
That even though the United Sates had the Lion’s share from the Treaty, the participating countries’ oligarchies’ benefited as well
Better care and attention must be placed on the “Equal Plain Field Rule” and its considerations particularly with Second Worlds or Developing Countries.
Guatemala,Honduras and El Salvador must share in the cost of repatriation of emigrants turned down by the United States
Must improve education especially marginized sectors
Must Improve Borders controls and supervision
Disband the “Coyote”
Mexico must also contribute and apply same recommendations, in as much as has allowed mass migrations through its territories and must penalize and disband the “Coyote”
The United States of America must accept greater level of responsibility for its unfair role “Wiggle room cunning, crafty, and artful”, negotiations in CAFTA-RD
To what level… it should be decided by the International Courts in The Hague (Netherlands)