The EU question

Julio Huato juliohuato at SPAMhotmail.com
Tue May 1 09:20:38 MDT 2001


jenyan1 at uic.edu writes:

>Which part of the world does not face geo-political pressure? To take an
>example, Latin America certainly does, and has done so for "a long time,"
>yet no we see no EU type structures emerging south of the Rio Grande.

As Louis Proyect suggested, there are no easy analogies between the European
Union and economic and political "integration" in the American Continent.
My instinct tells me that if "integration" in Latin America has not
translated yet into a "Latin American Union," it is because Latin American
capitalism is yet to mature for that.  But let's not forget that the EU
began, not as the crystallization of some European "exceptionalism" or any
other Euro-ideology, but as a series of less ambitious trade deals that
became a monetary arrangement, which "evolved" into a broad political
arrangement.  IMO, this complex historical process has been driven
essentially by the "logic" of profit-making.  A growing geography that
accommodates the increasing productive force unleashed by a still vigorous
economic structure is not a notion unfamiliar to people acquainted with
historical materialism.  Obviously, these broad historical events tend to be
punctuated by a long series of tentative misteps and failures, but the fact
that they bounce back evinces how organic their sources are.  Hegel would
not be surprised by that.

I could list references to the long history of trade, banking, and political
deals that predate the Mercosur, the Andean Pact, the Central American trade
arrangements, and even the current's FTAA initiative to show that EU-type
structures have also been insistent south of the Río Bravo (Rio Grande is
called in the US).  If interested, visit the ECLAC web site at www.eclac.cl,
a UN agency.  But let me focus on NAFTA, as I've been invited to do.

Even if the asymmetries between Mexico and its North-American partners (US
and Canada) in productivity, welfare, and culture are one order of magnitude
larger than those among current Euro-partners, the process exhibits a
similar profile.  NAFTA is now a well-established trade arrangement, but the
dynamics that underlies it doesn't (cannot) stop there.  As far as Mexico is
concerned, all substantial political forces, including the
nationally-organized Left are in favor of NAFTA or some renegotiated version
of it.  And they only reflect the opinions of a broad cross-section of
Mexicans, including workers who are the majority of the population.

Maybe, the only notable exception is the EZLN, which has criticized NAFTA
sharply and gained much of its ascendancy from opposing it... but as things
go by, I'd place the emphasis on "maybe."  (I know, lately there have been
sharp disagreements between the EZLN and the government on the changes to
the the Mexican Constitution, and the EZLN will stress its opposition to
anything the government promotes, including NAFTA, the FTAA, etc., but this
is in a state of flux, so I'll stick to my "maybe.")

Notice that it's been the Mexican government which has taken the initiative
to further "integration" by calling the US to take the process one step
further by allowing free transit of people across borders -- just like in
the EU.  Mexican workers, both those who live in Mexico and abroad,
massively support the initiative.  Factual evidence backing my statements on
NAFTA and a borderless North America can be found regularly on survey data
reported by www.reforma.com and www.estepais.com.mx.  (I don't endorse the
methodologies used in the surveys, by the way, but unless we go and
implement a "correct" probing of workers' opinions, we must interpret what's
available.)  Needless to say, American politicians -- "conservative" and
"liberals" alike -- aren't thrilled by the prospect.

Well, the US may not be "ready" yet for that, but as Mexico's capitalism
gains relative strength, they may change their mind.  Notice that, in the
last 50 years, Mexico's average GDP per worker has increased from 30% of the
US's to over 50% and that's the average.  Mexico is a country of tremendous
disparities.  If one considers only Mexico's northern half, the average GDP
per worker is not that far from Canada's and some regions of the US,
particularly in "manufacturing" and "services."  Evidence backing my
statements can be found in the Penn World Tables 5.6, the best set of
international economic data available, at
http://datacentre.epas.utoronto.ca:5680/pwt/pwt.html.  Economic data on
Mexico's regions can be found at www.inegi.gob.mx.
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