Hundreds of Mexican campesinos marched through the streets of the country´s capital city to demand the government leave agriculture out of the new NAFTA free trade agreement.
The protesters assured that Mexican president Peña Nieto will place the interests of transnational food corporations above the needs of the country’s small-scale farmers and further threaten the country’s agricultural sector.
The march headed from the Angel of Independence to the Ministry of the Interior, and was made up of members of the Ayala National Coordination Scheme, a campesino collective that defends land rights.
“We are not going to allow an unfavorable negotiation or that we fall on our knees before the United States. This is the beginning of a campaign for the agricultural sector to be completely excluded from NAFTA,” the organization said.
Agrarian organizations and popular movements have criticized NAFTA for affecting the country’s small producers and hurting Mexico’s overall food sovereignty, turning the country into an exporter of raw materials and an importer of processed products.
Mexico experienced a massive surge of U.S. investment following NAFTA’s 1994 implementation that produced half a million manufacturing jobs through 2002. But in the same period, 1.3 million workers within the agricultural sector were displaced.
More campesino protests are planned ahead of the NAFTA negotiations which are set to take place August 16 to 20 in Washington, D.C.