Environmental imperialism in Mexico

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 17 11:18:44 MDT 2002

NY Times, Sept. 17, 2002

U.S. Will Get Power, and Pollution, From Mexico

MEXICALI, Mexico, Sept. 11 — American companies have long faced intense 
resistance to big new power plants from communities crying, "Not in my 

Now they have a big new backyard: Mexico.

Here on the edge of Mexicali, a few miles from the California border, two 
huge power plants are rising in the desert, near a graveyard and a clutch 
of hovels. They will generate billions of watts for millions of 
Californians, a handful of jobs for Mexicans and pollution on both sides of 
the border.

They are "what free trade is all about," says an official of InterGen, the 
company building one. But a California congressman calls placing the plants 
in Mexico a form of environmental imperialism.

The plants will be the first of many built in Mexico specifically to 
provide power for the United States, says Mexico's energy secretary, 
Ernesto Martens. And that represents a new phase in relations between the 
two nations.

First came the labor of migrant workers. Then, in the 1990's, came the 
maquiladoras, the assembly-line factories providing cheap Mexican labor for 
American and multinational corporations under the North American Free Trade 

Now these 21st-century plants — call them energy maquiladoras — represent a 
new way to generate wealth and power by capitalizing on the economic and 
legal differences dividing Mexico and the United States.

Mexico's environmental law enforcement is weaker, its government less 
transparent, its desire for foreign capital bottomless. California's energy 
demand is enormous — as big as its citizens' resistance to huge power plants.

These projects are the first result.

"Building anything on the Mexican side is much cheaper, mostly because of 
the regulatory system," which is less stringent than in the United States, 
said Ernesto Ruffo, President Vicente Fox's border commissioner.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/17/international/americas/17MEXI.html

Louis Proyect

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