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News ::
"Development" in Mexico, Fox-style
03 Jun 2001
More information emerging about this every day....
Despite the attention paid to the recent talks about the Free Trade Area of the Americas, few seem to have noticed a proposal which would be an ominous precursor to any future trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere: the Puebla to Panama Plan.
Mexican President Vincente Fox unveiled this Plan, which will encompass the area from the Mexican state of Puebla (south of Mexico City) to the country of Panama, in September 2000. While advertised by the Mexican government as "a plan for sustainable development...to raise the standard of living for the people of the region," its true purposes have been questioned by many. Zapatista Subcamondante MArcos stated, "Fox's plan...would support those who want to convert the Mexican countryside into a panorama of gas stations, shopping centers and amusement parks."
According to the Mexican government, the Puebla to Panama Plan is being initiated by the Mexican federal government, in cooperation with "the state governments [of south-eastern Mexico], the governments of the seven Central American countries, Mexican business interests, and international financial organizations." Echoing the marketers of other similar programs around teh world, the government also states that the Plan's strategy "is based in the idea that economic and social development in the region will result from government actions and policies to stimulate private investment in the area."
The emphasis on infrastructure such as roads and airports, and not on other issues such as health, education or human rights, suggests that the true beneficiaries will be the rich.
The World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank and Mexico's Grupo Pulsar are among prospective partners in the Plan, which is expected to include several different projects aimed at increasing trans-isthmus transportation capacity. One potential project to construct dry canals in Nicaragua and Mexico's Tehuantepec Isthmus woudl primarily benefit multi-national shipping companies.
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