NAFTA HIGHWAY TO HELL
Kansas City, Kan.
Christopher Hayes is right: There’s no proposed NAFTA Superhighway–not that anyone can prove [Aug. 27/Sept. 3]. But he’s missed all the signs that our transportation, regulatory and trading systems are undergoing a major remake.
Monthly Review, the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade and the Council of Canadians (CoC) are a few nonparanoids who would take issue with Hayes. Hayes quotes a government official who assures us that the Security and Prosperity Partnership is merely a “mundane formal bureaucratic dialogue.” Then why did the Canadian Labour Congress, many other unions and the CoC recently sponsor National Days of Action against the SPP? The SPP is about much more than harmonizing baby-food-jar sizes, as Hayes states. It will apply the US version of homeland security to Canada and Mexico, eliminate each nation’s independent regulatory standards, integrate our resources–with vast implications for Canada’s water and oil shale and Mexico’s public petroleum and energy industries. It has been negotiated completely behind closed doors by our governments and corporations. Instead of repeating government assurances, The Nation should be exposing this betrayal of democracy.
This reshaping of trade and transportation includes significant labor issues, like our government’s plans to replace US drivers with cheaper Mexican drivers who work for multinational trucking companies, which have been buying up Mexican truck lines. Also, rail workers are alarmed at the takeover of the privatized Mexican rail system by US rail companies like Kansas City Southern Railway, now dubbed the NAFTA Railroad. Then there is the massive, soon-to-be-built Punta Colonet rail and deep-water port project in Baja California, which will funnel containers east across fragile deserts to the Midwest. Its workers will presumably be without any real union representation, just like at the port at Lazaro Cardenas.
Those of us who live along the NAFTA I-35 corridor who are looking south are deeply concerned about where the Trans Texas Corridor is going and if it really will come to a screeching halt at the Oklahoma line. We worry about the environmental consequences of a trade model that hauls increasing quantities of manufactured and agricultural goods and resources across thousands of miles of ocean, rail and road using fossil fuels and spewing pollution. We are alarmed at the prospect of privatized roads built by militantly antiunion outfits like Zachry while the public roads deteriorate. Like so many Americans, Canadians and Mexicans, we worry about how many more jobs will be offshored so the corridor boosters can soak up government subsidies and Wal-Mart can get its goods on time.
The Cross Border Network
Christopher Hayes is correct that the NAFTA Superhighway has inspired myth and legend. But I was surprised he didn’t mention I-69–the Interstate project often the basis for the legend. Promoted in the Memphis region as the future for economic development and despised for its potential environmental effects, I-69 has been a topic of discussion for a decade. Our Chamber of Commerce has a map that shows I-69 linking Mexico City and Monterrey with Memphis and continuing to Detroit and Montreal. It is not clear how much of I-69 is hype, but it is part of the NAFTA Superhighway.
DAVID H. CISCEL
The Indiana Toll Road was sold to Cintra (said to be a coalition of Spanish and Australian investors) by Governor Mitch Daniels a couple of years ago. Daniels, “my man Mitch” to George W. Bush, got right to it as soon as he was elected–no public discussion. The 2006 Green Party candidate for Secretary of State, Bill Stant, has sued the state over this.
Appreciation is due Christopher Hayes not only for his article but also for the way he wrote it, letting readers connect the dots. He didn’t even go for the obvious pun: Connect these dots–indot, txdot, okdot, ksdot, modot, nedot, iodot, sddot, nddot, ildot, widot, mndot, midot, ohdot, padot, nydot, vtdot, medot, madot, nhdot, ctdot, ridot…
CYNTHIA C. DAVIS
I plead guilty to the charge that my glancing coverage of the Security and Prosperity Partnership was overly credulous. In subsequent correspondence primarily with Canadian progressives, I’ve become convinced that the SPP is far more ambitious and more nefarious than its architects claim. It seems its two primary objectives are deregulation by stealth and the imposition of US-style “war on terror” security measures on Canada and Mexico. As a general matter, I share nearly all of Judy Ancel’s concerns about corporate globalization and the neoliberal agenda for the United States and its immediate neighbors. The point of the piece wasn’t to imply that anyone who shares those concerns is paranoid; rather, I was attempting to show that when the mainstream political and media establishment ignore ordinary citizens’ very real and legitimate concerns about the direction of transnational capitalism, their anxieties are easily directed away from the underlying causes and toward mythical threats.
SHOCKED & CHAGRINED
I am chagrined to report that in my article “Why the Silence?” [Oct. 1] I failed to mention that the merged Arbeter Ring/Workmen’s Circle-Jewish Currents organization has consistently opposed the Iraq War while also upholding the best standards of Jewish concern for human rights, domestic social justice and civil liberties. The commitment of this vigorously secularist Jewish organization makes me even sadder about the actions of most religious Jewish organizations. Shalom,
RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW
EDEN IN THE BRONX
Many years ago we’d all meet on the rock with the turtle carved on it on a bank of the Bronx River (near the zoo, I think). We’d spend hours hunting for crawfish in the water and under submerged rocks. There were turtles there, too, but only in the cleanest part. We never caught any of those turtles–they were just too quick.
Under the garbage and filth along the banks we would find beautiful flowers. There were birds in the trees and even the occasional fish in the dirty water. We were awed and amazed, and we always had a great time. Even then, more than forty years ago, the river was wonderful nature compared with the tenements we lived in on Brook Avenue in the South Bronx.
I pray I can return to my old neighborhood and see herring, tomcod and more turtles in the river, herons and beaver on the banks. A beaver dam in the Bronx–hot damn! Thank you to those who fight to restore this area, and cheers to Tracy Tullis for her comment “A Bronx Tale” [Aug. 13/20].