Back in January, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump, the result of Trump’s continued demanding of a border wall financed by Mexico. Trump has repeatedly argued against trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as being detrimental to the US economy. From a business perspective, I cannot help but wonder how he sees US/Mexican economic relations as being bad. Human rights and social justice issues abound, but everything I have read suggests that apart from the loss of manufacturing jobs, the US middle and upper classes have dramatically benefited from exploiting Mexican labor. Since Trump does not appear to be concerned with the well being of maquiladora workers, I have to wonder if his motives reflect a lack of understanding of global trade and economic history. I find it interesting that he has produced Mexico as the villain in this scenario; American manufacturers and the US government seem to be at the root of the problem.

I have long thought that a social and economic history of the relationship between the US and Mexico is in order, starting with the 1982 Mexican Debt Crisis. My initial read of this event, along with the following implementation of NAFTA, is that the US was trying to save its own economy at first, but the US government was able to seize the resulting debt crisis in Mexico and lay groundwork that would make the “offshoring” of jobs profitable. My early thoughts are that the current incarnation of undocumented immigration of Mexican citizens stems from our own government’s actions in 1982 and again in 1994.

Below are some links on the background of the 1982 crisis:

https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/history/2001/ch07.pdf

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/mexico82.htm

https://economics.rabobank.com/publications/2013/september/the-mexican-1982-debt-crisis/

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