Dear Global Justice Readers,
Many people's spirits were lifted by the inauguration of President Obama this week. Now comes the challenging work of making the promised change real.
This week we are releasing our new report, The Right to Stay Home: Alternatives to Mass Displacement and Forced Migration in North America, online. We hope our readers use this report as a tool to help focus attention on the urgent need to make Mexico, Immigration, and NAFTA reform front and center priorities of the new administration.
The report focuses on the powerful economic forces that drive migration from Mexico to the United States. It brings together the voices of a range of progressive economists, anthropologists, law professors, journalists, and leaders of social organizations on both sides of the border who analyze the complexities of the migration dynamic and propose strategies to mitigate them. The report, now online, continues to be available in print.
The report's contributors include: Jeff Faux, Armando Bartra, David Bacon, Gustavo Esteva, Laura Carlsen, Bill Hing, Amy Shannon, Oscar Chacon, Maria Dolores París, John Gibler, Berta Lujan, Dan Labotz and Ted Lewis.
The topic of Mexico will be unavoidable for President Obama. Even prior to his inauguration he met with Felipe Calderon -- the weak and ever more isolated president of Mexico. At the conclusion of that meeting, Obama called for a "NAFTA upgrade." We hope that means our new president is sending the signal that -- as he promised in his campaign -- NAFTA is no longer sacrosanct and that real change may come to our diplomacy with Mexico. We offer our report as a tool in the fight to make sure that happens.
During the last year more than five thousand Mexicans have died in a drug war that has no end in sight. Meanwhile, Mexican government revenues that depend heavily on income from oil sales are dropping sharply as both current prices and overall reserves decline. The value of the Mexican Peso has dropped nearly 30 percent since last September and unemployment is rising rapidly as Mexico faces a magnified version of the deep recession sweeping the United States. Large-scale migration to the United States that has provided an escape valve for Mexican social volatility over the last quarter century is an increasingly difficult option during the sharp contraction of the U.S. workforce underway today.
The sense of crisis is real, but the path of growing military support for Calderon's government that Bush pursued via the "Merida Initiative" (Plan Mexico) is not a viable or acceptable path for Obama to take. In this light, recent comments by departing Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, were chilling. He raised the possibility of a security "surge" on the United States' side of the border should escalating drug war violence in Mexico move north. His comments came on the heels of a United States Joint Forces Command study that compared Mexico to Pakistan as one of two "large and important states" with potential for "rapid and sudden collapse."
2009 is a pivotal year for both Mexico and the United States. We urge you to read and make use of our report today and to stay tuned for further developments.
The Mexico Team