Some geopolitical tthinking [RE: [Marxism] The Latin American-USRealignment
juliohuato at hotmail.com
Sat May 8 20:44:20 MDT 2004
>Maybe we could find an answer by reading the figures of economic realities.
> Isn't Mexico today a split country, where the North (and Fox comes from
>the North) has become a giant maquila, a giant American sweatshop, while
>the South has been given the order to recede into barbarism and get lost
>(save for some touristic enclaves, which range from the Zapatista guerrilla
>sites to Cancún)?
Fox doesn't come from the North. He is from Guanajuato, a central state:
We should definitely read "the figures of economic realities" (and look at
maps) to avoid categorical, but ignorant, clichés.
In 1990, maquiladora value added was only 1% of total Mexico's GDP. In
2000, at its peak, it was less than 3%. In 1990, maquiladoras employed less
than 1% of the labor force; in 2000, about 2%. Yes, assembly-line,
foreign-owned, for-export manufacturing (so-called "maquiladoras," although
the maquiladora in-bond regime was phased out since 1994) grew very rapidly
in the 1990s, particularly in the late 1990s. But as shown, it is still a
small portion of manufacturing and general economic activity in Mexico.
In general, the economies of Mexico City/metropolitan zone, the services and
manufacturing belt in the central states of the Estado de México, Tlaxcala,
Hidalgo, Querétaro y Puebla, as well as the northern-border states (that is,
the areas with the greatest concentration of "maquiladoras") have proved to
be economically robust. These areas are the most integrated to the U.S.
economy via trade and investment, yet they withstood well a severe recession
in the U.S. During 2001-2003, as a result of the decline in U.S. demand,
unemployment in some of these areas increased abruptly. But a good deal of
people switched to activities oriented towards the domestic market, poverty
was kept in check, and overall employment rebounded in the last year or so.
Usually, when unemployment hits hard, poverty indices increase. It didn't
happen this time around.
There's less income and consumption inequality in these areas than in the
poor southern, coastal, and parts of the central region. In spite of acute
water scarcity, the semi-arid type of land and salinization, and the lack of
other natural resources in the central northern and northern regions,
agriculture has boomed in the last few years reversing a long decay. Urban
problems (including public safety problems) have become more acute, in part
as a result of the tremendous flow of immigrants from the southern states
and from Central America, in part because of the drug trade. But these
problems have at least attracted a lot of public attention (even
international attention), which has shaken the tree and is pushing the
authorities to face them. Equally alarming problems in the South can go
unnoticed. (In the South, it takes a rebellion to get public attention.)
These "maquiladora" states have the broadest tax base, more stable public
spending, and a fairly decent public infrastructure. Educational
attainment, health, housing, electricity, etc. -- indices of social
well-being -- are the highest in these states. On the other hand, the areas
that are most asymmetrically dependent on Mexico City, the northern region,
and the U.S. (areas that are also more environmentally ravaged by
deforestation, soil erosion, and natural catastrophes) are the impoverished
areas in the southern, coastal, and central states, which rely heavily on
the remissions from migrant workers.
The economy of northern Mexico is dependent on the U.S. But a good chunk of
the Texas' economy is also dependent on Mexico. Admittedly, Texas is richer
than northern Mexico, but interdependence doesn't necessarily means
political subordination. There is evidence of this, like the disputes with
the U.S. southern states over the water from the Colorado River. If
economic interdependence were necessarily political submission, then Canada,
Japan, and China would be subordinated to Washington's whims. In fact,
these areas of Mexico are much better positioned to deal with the U.S. on an
equal footing than the poorer southern, coastal, and central regions (the
poor areas in the central states).
>It is my impression that, for a period longer than we would wish, Mexico is
>somehow or other lost, so to say, for Latin America (which means "for
We are entitled to our impressions.
>In a sense, the Caribbean region (which extends from Puerto Rico to
>Acapulco, [etc. etc.]
Acapulco is on the Pacific coast:
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