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2In a joint message released on November 1, the Foreign Affairs Ministries of Mexico and France declared that critical updates to the EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement will soon be finalized. Authorities insist that the modernization of the 17-year-old pact, which is part of the Global Agreement, will enable greater access to Mexican products in the European Union as well as increased imports of European products to Mexico.

Still, market experts point to the toll that free trade agreements have already taken on Mexico since 2000. Rather than diversifying its export markets, Mexico remains heavily dependent on the U.S. market: 80 percent of its exports still go to the United States. Moreover, the trade deficit with the EU is widening: between 2002 and 2015 it grew from €8.6 billion to €14 billion.

Even more troubling is that the EU refuses to apply the Global Agreement’s human rights clause enabling government consultations and trade sanctions in the case of serious violations of international norms, despite a dramatic deterioration of Mexico’s human rights situation over the last decade. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel met privately with Enrique Peña Nieto last June, she did little more than chide the Mexican President for the tens of thousands of homicides, extrajudicial executions, and disappearances of women, students, journalists and Indigenous and farming peoples, before toasting to Mexico’s progress and indicating that German companies “feel right at home” in Mexico.

European and Mexican civil society organizations warn that the renewed FTA only heralds further impunity. The following is a summary of some of the key issues at stake in negotiations, as laid out in a report published by Bread for the World, Misereor, and the Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America e.V.:

Investment: special rights for multinationals

The negotiating directives set out a very broad agenda including issues such as investment, services, government procurement, intellectual property rights, energy and raw materials. One of the most sensitive issues of the EU-Mexico negotiations relates to the EU’s objective to include investment protection and the highly contested investor-to-state dispute settlement procedures in the new trade accord. The Global Agreement currently in force does not have such provisions. The EU advocates specific rules granting transnational corporations the exclusive right to seek compensation before international tribunals in the event of regulatory changes deemed to violate investors’ ‘legitimate expectation’ of a stable business environment.

Seed and pesticide industry: threatening diversity

The EU wants to prop up the transnational seed and pesticide business by facilitating the use of chemicals and high-yielding varieties in agriculture, including hybrids and GMOs. This would benefit biotech companies such as Germany’s Bayer, which is currently negotiating the take-over of global seed giant Monsanto. In Mexico, Bayer’s local subsidiary presently sells two insecticides suspected of causing cancer and endangering bees: Semevin 350 and Poncho Super. The two are prohibited in the EU. Bayer’s Finale Ultra herbicide, also sold in Mexico, may lead to malformations of fetuses.

Gold rush for the energy sector

Since 2014, when Mexico opened up the oil and electricity industry to foreign investors, transnational corporations have embarked on a new gold rush. For the first time in almost 80 years, private companies may directly invest in the exploration and production of oil and gas. The ‘modernized’ trade agreement aims at facilitating European investment in the Mexican energy sector. It will almost irreversibly ‘lock in’ the market access liberalization afforded under the 2014 Mexican energy reform. In addition, the EU seeks provisions impeding price controls on electricity and fuels, effectively restricting the policy space to pursue pro-poor energy regulations.

Civil society organizations push back

In June, 54 civil society organizations from across Europe and Mexico called for a halt of ongoing negotiations until the European Commission and the Mexican government agree to publish drafts of negotiations, ensure participation of civil society groups in decision-making processes, and re-think the foundation of trade relations between EU and Mexico with an emphasis on human rights and sustainability, amongst other demands.

 

Read more:

Human Rights on the Sidelines: The renegotiation of the EU trade agreement with Mexico (FDCL)

Mexico and European civil society concerns and proposals about "modernisation" of the EU-Mexico global agreement (FDCL)

Unmasked: corporate rights in the renewed Mexico-EU FTA (CLACSO)

         

 

77a77e42f9744e5080a22826b3347303 18Juchitan is known for its Day of the Dead celebrations. In any other year, the streets of the city centre are crammed with vendors selling the yellow cempasuchil flowers and fruits that are used in the rituals. This year, the celebrations are much more modest. In the indigenous Zapotec language, which is spoken by most in the city, the traditions surrounding Day of the Dead are called Xandu, a Zapotec adaptation of the Spanish "Todos Santos" ("All Saints Day"). Xandu is celebrated between October 29 and 31. The biguie', the centre of the Xandu rituals, is a shrine that people build in their homes to welcome the dead. But Juchitan was hit hard by the 8.2-magnitude earthquake that shook southern Mexico on September 7, meaning the celebrations have taken on a new meaning.

"Juchitan has completely changed, the dynamic of community life and social life has been cut off," Gaspar Cabrera Manuel, a Catholic missionary who works in Juchitan, told Al Jazeera. "People are focused on rebuilding their own houses and their own lives, and they've had to put other things aside," he said. Thousands still live under tarps, with relatives or in government shelters. Demolition of damaged houses has only just started, and reconstruction is still a long way off.

Read the full story by Simon Schatzberg: Juchitan celebrates Day of the Dead after earthquake

 

juchitan.terremotoShortly before midnight on September 7, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale—the strongest to hit Mexico in a century—radiated out from its epicenter in the Gulf of Tehuantepec off the country’s southern coast. Indigenous and farming communities in the marginalized states of Oaxaca and Chiapas bore the brunt of the destruction, with 99 deaths in total.

A mere twelve days later, Mexico City residents were busy commemorating the anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake when the seismic alarm system sounded, this time in response to a 7.1 magnitude temblor with its epicenter less than 100 miles from the capital. To date the September 19th quake has killed over 300 people and left tens of thousands homeless in Mexico City as well as Mexico State, Puebla, Morelos, and Guerrero.

While news cycles continue to be dominated by delusive coverage of rescue efforts in the capital, distressed communities describe a state of emergency exacerbated by political corruption and opportunistic militarization. The following is a brief overview of the current situation in affected regions, with an emphasis on the perennially overlooked regions of Southeast Mexico.

AAJ 2680On September 7, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake rattled Mexico, shaking people out of their beds from the epicenter in the southern state of Chiapas to Mexico City some 600 miles away. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the country in over a century and has led to 98 deaths to date. Worst hit were the Istmo region of Oaxaca, the mountainous Mixe region in the same state and de coastal region of Chiapas. About 2.5 million people are in need of emergency aid and shelter.

Photographer Jonathan Treat visited the Istmo region days after the earthquake and shares with Educa this photo reporting about the people´s struggle for survival in the communities of San Mateo del Mar, Matías Romero, Rio de Pachiñe, Santa María Xadani and Las Flores: “The ovens that women use to make totopos to sell are destroyed. There are single mothers, and many others with no income now,” explained Edgar Teodoro Galván to Treat. “We don´t know how long we´ll be without homes. Our territory is forgotten. We´re like abandoned orphans. We´ve organized to help each other. But how are we going to rebuild?”

Photo reporting: “What do we do now?" (pdf, 10 pág.)

Versión en espanol

 

http://www.educaoaxaca.org/images/presa_de_jales_fsm.jpgOaxaca. On June 30th authorities belonging to the Ocotlán and Ejutla districts reunited in the community of San Martin de los Cansecos and discussed about the constant pressure and aggresion caused by the mining company Fortuna Silver Mines. On the very same day they toured around the communal areas of San Martin de los Cansecos with other members from San Jose del Progreso observing what has been the caused of the rubble and debri and on what other exploration has been made by the Fortuna Silver Mines company in the communal limits. They varified that the mining company has invaded the communal areas in San Martin de los Cansecos opening gaps and excavating without the authorization of the community. The mining companies are violating the agreements made by the assembly where the community has prohibited exploration and mining exploitation of any kind and this goes against what the Agrarian National Registry wanted. 

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