CHIAPAS AND AFTER:
THE MEXICAN CRISIS
AND IMPLICATIONS FOR CANADA
Prepared by Gerald Schmitz
Political and Social Affairs Division
JANUARY 1994 UPRISING
AFTERMATH AND CHALLENGE TO THE MEXICAN STATE
TO HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS FOR CANADA
CHIAPAS AND AFTER:
THE MEXICAN CRISIS
AND IMPLICATIONS FOR CANADA
We will not
go to ask for pardon or to beg. We will not go to scrounge for handouts
or to pick up the leftovers that fall from the full tables of the
powerful. We will go to demand what is just and right for all people:
freedom, justice, democracy. Everything for everyone, nothing for
statement released 19 February 1994, on the eve of peace talks with
the Mexican government.]
has assumed its commitments seriously. In the coming days, the decisions
needed to assure their execution will be made.
Carlos Salinas de Gortari, following announcement of a tentative 32-point
political accord being reached 2 March 1994.]
JANUARY 1994 UPRISING
On New Year's Day
1994, hundreds of guerrillas claiming to belong to the "Zapatista
National Liberation Army" (EZLN Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion
Nacional) seized several towns in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.
The timing was chosen to coincide with the entry into force of the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the EZLN's masked spokesman
"Subcommandante Marcos" (a non-Mayan) called a "death sentence"
for Mexico's indigenous peoples. The guerrillas themselves appeared to
be mostly Mayan peasant farmers. They were, however, surprisingly well
organized and proved able to win some popular and urban support.
the most violent in several decades of armed opposition to Mexico's government
denounced by the Zapatistas as a "dictatorship"
is a major political setback for the ruling "PRI" (Institutional
Revolutionary Party) regime, which has controlled the country continuously
since 1929. The initial damage to Mexico's international image was heightened
by the Salinas government's heavy-handed response to the insurrection,
which deployed one-fifth of the Mexican army (15,000 troops were brought
in) and used aerial bombardment. Mexican and international human rights
organizations alleged that "excessive force" had resulted in
grave violations of the human rights of the rural population. In retaking
the towns, several hundred people were reported killed, mostly guerrillas
and some civilians. The former, however, could retreat and likely hold
out for a long time in the surrounding mountainous jungle terrain.
borders on Guatemala (see map), is the seventh largest of Mexico's 31
states in size, and the eighth largest in population (though that is still
less than 4% of a national total of over 90 million). On most indicators
of social and economic welfare, however, the state ranks last. For example,
in one of the towns occupied, Ocosingo, illiteracy stands at over 45%.
While in recent years the state received more assistance than any other
under the Salinas administration's "National Solidarity" program
(dubbed "Pronasol"), such expenditures have not addressed the
longstanding grievances of the Indian majority against the oligarchical
landowning and PRI-connected power structure. The latters's agricultural
"modernization" plans, accelerated by the NAFTA, have, moreover,
reinforced peasants' fears about the loss of their traditional lands and
means of livelihood.
AFTERMATH AND CHALLENGE TO THE MEXICAN STATE
The Chiapas uprising
cannot be understood as just a remote localized tremor. Rather, it is
evidence of an earthquake that continues to reverberate across Mexican
society and a badly shaken political system.(1)
Indeed some in Mexico have called it the world's first "post-Communist
revolution". Despite the regime's well-publicized efforts at promoting
human rights and political reforms, especially during the sensitive NAFTA
negotiations, Mexico's political system has remained highly authoritarian
and paternalistic. President Salinas himself is widely suspected of having
benefited from systematic fraud to eke out an electoral victory in the
1988 elections, and stands accused of continuing to operate in an autocratic
and manipulative manner.
In November 1993,
the traditional rituals of el destape (the unveiling) and el
dedazo (the pointing of the finger) were again orchestrated by the
PRI establishment as Salinas personally anointed his chosen successor,
43-year-old Luis Donaldo Colosio a Salinas protégé who had run
the President's 1988 campaign and whom he made PRI president and Secretary
of Social Development in charge of Pronasol as well as environmental issues.
Colosio thereby became the unchallenged PRI candidate for the next six-year
presidential term ("sexenio"), which would normally guarantee
Matters could turn
out differently, however. The PRI monopoly of state-bureaucratic power
can now expect re-invigorated challenges from both the National Action
Party (PAN) on the right and the Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD)
on the left, as well as from a growing number of non-governmental and
popular organizations within civil society. While giving Salinas high
marks for pushing through pro-market economic reforms, observers had acknowledged
the lack of credible political reforms to be a growing problem. For example,
in a mostly glowing "Survey of Mexico" a year ago, The Economist
saw the country being hailed by "the club of rich nations ... as
the perfect student of economics," but went on to state bluntly that
"Mexico is in no sense a democracy. Government is conducted by an
unelected bureaucratic elite accountable only to the president."(2)
In the short term,
the events in Chiapas could jeopardize Mexico's campaign for membership
in the "club" of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD), to which Canada belongs. Since joining the GATT
in 1986, Mexico's aggressive path of economic liberalization has had considerable
international success, culminating in U.S. passage of the NAFTA in late
1993. Within Mexico itself, however, the relationship of market-oriented
reforms driven from the top down (termed "Salinastroika") to
an overdue political liberalization has been vexed and tenuous at best.
If political change seemed in some sense to be inevitable, would it come
in time to avoid upsetting the neo-liberal "modernization" project?
Many were sceptical even before long-suffering Chiapas exploded into the
The Chiapas warning
has so far produced several significant and even ironic developments on
the political front. One is the extraordinary role played by the Catholic
church, and specifically Bishop Samuel Ruiz of San Cristobal de las Casas,
in facilitating talks between the government and the rebels. Although
90% of Mexicans are nominally Catholic, the anti-clerical provisions of
the revolutionary-era 1917 constitution were not dropped until 1992. As
well, church workers who defended Indian and peasant rights, and organizations
such as the respected Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Centre,
have been subject to frequent harassment and vilification, and were previously
criticized by conservative clerics. Now Ruiz, who is trusted by the Zapatistas,
is a key mediating figure in trying to achieve a peaceful solution. His
cathedral was chosen as the site for talks which began 21 February.
For its part, the
government moved within weeks to control further damage by offering an
amnesty to guerrillas who surrendered their arms, and by appointing as
its peace envoy Manuel Camacho Solis, who is a son-in-law of a former
Chiapas governor and former director of the now defunct Mexican environmental
agency SEDUE. Camacho Solis is a Salinas favourite who was Mexico's foreign
minister and had also been Mexico City's appointed mayor. Significantly
bypassed was the man Salinas had named as his Secretary of Government
in January 1993, former Chiapas governor Patrocinio Gonzalez Garrido,
whose term had been marred by accusations of corruption and repression.
Perhaps more significantly, Camacho Solis had also been Colosio's chief
rival for the PRI succession. While Colosio is on the campaign trail making
speeches promising "the democratic transformation of our country,"
it is Camacho Solis who is grabbing most of the spotlight as peace talks
get underway with the rebels.
the government's efforts will be is another matter. A recent poll in the
Mexico City newspaper El Financiero reported that over 70% of those
surveyed doubted the honesty of the presidential elections scheduled for
this summer.(4) As well,
in early February hundreds of unarmed peasants occupied municipal buildings
in several Chiapas towns, demanding the removal of local PRI officials.
The government has tried to keep the situation under control, observing
a ceasefire since 17 January and releasing a number of those detained
by the army and police. Crisis management has also produced some further
political concessions. When the Chiapas state legislature met to respond
to the state of emergency, it voted to replace Governor Elmar Setzer.
And in Mexico City in late January, the government signed an agreement
with the leaders of nine political parties calling for basic electoral
and peace talks may not be enough, given the fundamental challenge to
the status quo. As a perceptive early report in The Economist concluded:
may follow the Chiapas rebels' call to arms. Indeed some villagers
have criticized the Zapatistas, some of whose recruits they say were
coerced. But in a country where two out of five remain poor, they
have already delivered a powerful warning to whoever wins the August
election: the benefits of economic reform must be shared out to those
who need them the most.(5)
The role of North
American free trade in helping to spark the Chiapas revolt relates to
the controversy surrounding its proposed "model of development"
as much as to any specific provisions of the treaty.(6)
By the late 1980s President Salinas had become convinced that entry into
such a regional bloc was necessary to Mexico's ambitions to rise to "first
world" status. Mexico therefore pushed hard for the negotiations
and for a successful result in Washington. Of course, there was a price.
Under Bush, the United States brought to the table many demands of its
own. Under Clinton the agenda was further enlarged.
Apart from the
"side" agreements on environmental and labour cooperation, which
were reached late in the process and are not part of the actual treaty,
the primary U.S. objectives have been economic and strategic. As explained
by leading American trade analyst Peter Morici:
reforms are brought to full fruition recovery could falter, a government
more sympathetic to leftist ideology could reassert corporatist values,
and the progress of the Salinas years could unravel. This is where
NAFTA enters the picture. ...[It] locks in economic reforms to date,
and commits the country to timetables for dismantling most remaining
corporatist policies. ...After decades of ambivalence toward the United
States, Mexico is opening its economy and society to American business
culture and values. NAFTA presents the best opportunity to ensure
that Mexico becomes firmly established on a free market development
While such aims
are consistent with the Salinas administration's own modernization and
liberalization plans, they have provoked opposition on the grounds that
they represent an unacceptable intrusion into national sovereignty and
a foreclosure of democratic alternatives. This is especially so, it is
argued, for areas notably energy and land ownership previously
considered sacrosanct under Mexico's leftish 1917 constitution. In part
to prepare the way for NAFTA, which is to establish eventual free trade
in agricultural products, including the staples corn and beans, the Salinas
government introduced a package of constitutional reforms in November
1991. As a result, amendments formally adopted in March 1992 effectively
privatized the ejido system of land distribution adapted
from the Indian tradition of communal farming which had been entrenched
to protect peasants' rights following the 1910-17 Revolution.
The case for freeing
up land sales was that commercial "modernization" of agriculture
was necessary if Mexican producers were to compete with cheap food imports,
especially of U.S. corn, entering under liberalized trade rules. That
scenario, however, only exacerbated fears that hundreds of thousands of
"inefficient" subsistence farmers would thereby become "surplus"
faster, and be forced off the land to swell the ranks of the poor in already
overcrowded and polluted cities. Moreover, it is important to understand
that, despite the land reform provisions of the revolutionary constitution,
many Indians had never obtained secure land rights. As a recent report
observes: "Indian lands, typically held either in the form of ejidos
or as communal property, are vulnerable to land grabs by caciques
[the term for rural bosses and large landowners] who obtain protection
from powerful political figures or agrarian officials."(8)
Not without cause
has the battle cry of the early hero of the Mexican revolution, Emiliano
Zapata "tierra y libertad" (land and liberty)
resonated through modern Mexican history to the present day. This is both
the real and the rhetorical backdrop to the 1994 "Zapatista"
army's denunciation of NAFTA as locking in a policy of agricultural commercialization
seen as benefiting the land-rich, and not the many Indians in Chiapas
who remain landless or who are angered at losing ancestral lands to cattle
barons with connections to the ruling PRI. And while NAFTA, combined with
infrastructure development, could boost some Chiapas exports (mostly of
tropical products and benefiting mainly large growers), in the short term
at least, this is overshadowed by a deeper concern that economic adjustment
will worsen the already wide income disparities that persist among Mexicans,
and that separate the "dynamic" north (where most of the maquila
industries are located) from the traditionally poorer and "backward"
Mexicans who have
yet to benefit from the government's program of economic liberalization
have reason to be suspicious of its promises. Great wealth has been created
at the top, but Mexico still has one of the most unequal income distributions
of any country in the world. Perhaps the only surprise is that there has
been no social explosion earlier. Between 1982, the year that Mexico's
near default triggered the debt crisis, and 1988, the year that Salinas
assumed power, real wages dropped by almost half. (The magnitude of this
decline was considerably greater than that experienced by the U.S. or
Canada during the Great Depression.) Although the Salinas years have brought
an uneven economic recovery, the appearance of relative stability has
proved to be misleading. It must also be said that since 1988 serious
human rights violations have continued. These have been extensively documented
by organizations such as Amnesty International, and include the murder
or "disappearance" of journalists and opposition political activists.
Mexico has also seen rising numbers of poor and unemployed or marginal
workers, a development attributed to both the mixed effects of economic
restructuring and a population growth that continues to outstrip the potential
for new job creation.
Now, once again
in Mexican history, another violent reaction to delayed social and political
reforms threatens economic "progress" and the stability of the
ruling regime. The next steps in responding to the crisis will therefore
be critical for both the government and the Mexican people. While NAFTA
by itself cannot be blamed as the cause of an upheaval that has deep historical
roots, as a contributing factor it has become part of the problem. It
remains to be determined whether NAFTA can also become part of a solution
by bringing about reforms within the Mexican state and society and raising
living standards for the indigenous majority in Chiapas and other disadvantaged
TO HUMAN RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS FOR CANADA
Canada and Mexico
have traditionally enjoyed a good but limited relationship. While the
NAFTA is expected to spur increased trade and investment flows, and to
deepen exchanges in other areas, this is from a rather low base of activity
(see Figure 1). The NAFTA negotiations, which Canada joined mainly for
defensive reasons, have intensified the diplomatic relationship between
the two countries, as reflected in annual bilateral ministerial-level
meetings, which this year are being held 28 February and 1 March
in Mexico City. As well, coinciding with the opening of a major Canadian
trade exhibition, Prime Minister Chrétien is scheduled to meet with President
Salinas during an official visit to Mexico City on 23 and 24 March.
The violence in
Chiapas has therefore presented the Canadian government with the problem
of determining an appropriate response in the very first days of a new
era of trilateral partnership. Quite obviously, all three parties to the
NAFTA would have preferred a more auspicious backdrop to the beginning
of the intergovernmental cooperation required for implementing the treaty
and its parallel accords.
Much of the controversy
within and outside government in Canada revolves around the question of
the place of human rights considerations in overall foreign policy, particularly
as regards foreign commercial policy, and specifically in this case. In
recent years official Canadian policy has evolved towards making a strong
linkage in principle between foreign aid and respect for human rights
by recipient governments. Addressing the Commonwealth heads of government
in 1991, Prime Minister Mulroney boldly stated the Canadian position that
"nothing in international relations is more important than respect
for individual freedoms and human rights. ...Canada will not subsidize
repression and the stifling of democracy."(9)
External Affairs and International Trade Canada, NAFTA What's
It All About?, Ottawa, 1993, p. 3.
being pressed by opposition parties and human rights advocates, the Mulroney
government subsequently maintained that such a normative framework was
not intended to apply, at least not in the same way, if at all, to trading
relationships, where more usual pragmatic and business considerations
would still be paramount. Even focusing only on aid flows, research by
an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs itself confirms a long-
observed pattern of inconsistent application of human rights policies
in cases where significant Canadian commercial interests are at stake.(10)
the NAFTA negotiations, the Canadian government's stance was that any
alleged human rights failings on the part of the Mexican authorities ought
not to impede progress towards an economic agreement; all three government
parties claimed such an agreement would bring about long-term material
improvements for the Mexican people. Essentially the official Canadian
position asserted that Mexico's market liberalization and opening to North
American influence through NAFTA would act as a positive developmental
force that would also favour democratic change and increased respect for
human rights.(11) Canada
was initially cool to the idea of any side accords addressing social concerns,
but accepted the compromises worked out on labour and on environmental
cooperation. The latest NAFTA Manual, produced by the Department
of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in December 1993, devotes several
pages to the North American Agreement on Labour Co-operation, which covers
issues with a direct bearing on human rights.(12)
This reference document, however, makes no explicit references to human
rights or democratic objectives.
Since the Chiapas
uprising, Foreign Affairs Minister André Ouellet and Secretary of State
for Latin America and Africa, Christine Stewart, have expressed Canada's
concern over reports of serious human rights violations. At the same time,
Trade Minister Roy MacLaren has joined his counterparts in the United
States and Mexico in insisting that the events in Chiapas, although regrettable,
are an "internal Mexican matter" unrelated to the NAFTA process.
At a news conference in Mexico City in mid-January, following the inaugural
meeting of the North American Commission, Mr. MacLaren did add that
the three governments nonetheless had a responsibility to see that "the
benefits of free trade flow through to all segments of society."(13)
A few days after, Mrs. Stewart expressed the hope that: "There doesn't
have to be a contradiction between human rights and economic expansion."(14)
Although in recent
years Canadian parliamentarians have recommended stronger linkages between
foreign policy decisions and human rights values, the major battleground
over Mexico's record on human rights has been in the United States, where
the politics of the NAFTA have also been contested most hotly. Paradoxically,
while the U.S. lags behind its NAFTA partners in signing on to major international
human rights instruments,(15)
it has the only legislated framework for attaching human rights conditions
to trading relations. For example, Sections 502 and 301, respectively,
of the Trade Act of 1974 empower the president to grant preferential
duties, or to apply sanctions, contingent on a finding of compliance with,
or violation of, fundamental worker rights. Internationally recognized
"fair labour standards" including the right to organize
and bargain collectively have also been used as a benchmark of
conduct in the U.S. State Department's annual Country Reports on Human
the latest of these reports, delivered to Congress on 31 January 1994,
which covers the period well before Chiapas, comes down more harshly than
before on Mexico (and also China), reflecting increased attention given
to human rights by the Clinton administration. Past reports have often
been criticized for going easy on "friendly" countries with
which the U.S. has important business or strategic interests. Doubts remain,
however, about the weight attached to these findings in overall foreign
policy formulation. The State Department's senior policy advisor for human
rights and humanitarian affairs is quoted as saying: "The tough question
of economic justice versus human rights has not been resolved."(17)
Human rights groups in the U.S. have also been unsuccessful in getting
Washington to put pressure on Mexico by reviewing that country's status
under the worker rights provisions of U.S. preferential trade law pertaining
to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).(18)
Prior to the Zapatista
insurgency, much had been written about the state of human rights and
human rights reform in Mexico. While Mexican governments have traditionally
objected to external "interference" in the affairs of sovereign
nations, they have also supported human rights in international forums.
As well, Mexico's growing international engagements have made the Salinas
government more conscious of the country's public image abroad. Clearly
the costly push to get NAFTA passed by a sceptical U.S. Congress helped
to bring about some gains in the human rights area. This joined growing
pressures from within Mexican civil society for legal redress and political
accountability. The number of independent human rights NGOs in Mexico
has grown rapidly from a handful when Salinas took office in 1988 to several
hundred today.(19) In
1990 the government moved to create a National Human Rights Commission,
which now boasts more than 600 staff members.
the Mexican Commission has no mandate to investigate political and labour
rights violations, and in any event lacks enforcement powers. In general,
despite an impressive normative framework, new bureaucratic human rights
machinery, and the growth in non-governmental human rights activism, international
human rights monitoring groups have still found Mexico's record of adherence
to its international obligations to be gravely wanting. Shortly before
the NAFTA vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, Americas Watch
wrote a cautionary letter to President Clinton:
many members of Congress are asking is whether the agreement will
promote fundamental human rights and respect for the rule of law in
Mexico. NAFTA and the supplemental agreements do not address these
issues... While the Salinas Administration has taken steps to reduce
human rights violations, the fundamental pattern of abusive authoritarian
conduct and impunity remain... Public officials in Mexico are still
invulnerable to the will of the electorate...
If NAFTA becomes
the model for expanding free trade with other nations in the hemisphere,
it is all the more important that the United States affirm the centrality
of human rights and democratic governance to closer economic relations.(20)
A supporting Briefing
Paper documented how Mexico's labour laws, while strong on paper, in fact
afford little protection to most Mexican workers. It contends, moreover,
that an entrenched paternalistic system of labour relations, prone to
corruption and co-option by the ruling party, "perpetuates itself
because Mexico's government and the PRI refuse to be subjected to democratic
accountability and because they deem a compliant work force essential
to their goals of attracting foreign investment and implementing free
observers have acknowledged that the "PRI's long-standing corporatist
links with labour and the private sector were crucial elements in the
president's [Salinas] ability to secure agreement and compliance"
with the economic adjustment measures that smoothed the way for the NAFTA
negotiations. An important element was the PRI-controlled antipoverty
"Solidarity" program that has dispensed more than $11 billion
in the past four years.(22)
As noted earlier,
Chiapas received more funds through this program than any other Mexican
state. Yet the January uprising underscored that such compensatory schemes
delivered through the old-style patronage networks are no longer enough
to forestall popular demands for far-reaching political and social reforms.
The question also looms, therefore, whether the main economic development
model predicated as it is on economic integration agreements like
the NAFTA, which have largely tried to steer clear of such wider concerns
will still be able to maintain a contained approach to NAFTA implementation
that focuses on realizing the agreement's commercial potential, while
not adequately addressing the social and political impacts of adjustment.
As two Canadian analysts argue:
prospect of a growing and prosperous Mexican market is a chimera,
as long as the basic needs of a large part of the population as well
as their political, civil and human rights are thwarted by the party
which has ruled Mexico for over six decades. ... The Canadian government
must demonstrate that much more needs to be done, both at home and
abroad, to assist workers who lose their livelihood and to ensure
that they become beneficiaries, not victims, of the new economic regime.
Similarly, expanded access to basic social services (like education,
housing and health) and productive assets (land and credit) are essential
to empower the poor and ensure that they become participants, not
bystanders, in the NAFTA.(23)
In the wake of
the violence of January 1994, Canadian human rights organizations have
been among those sending fact-finding delegations to Chiapas and making
appeals to the NAFTA governments to incorporate human rights issues into
the management, both bilaterally and trilaterally, of the new North American
relationship with Mexico. In an intervention during the annual human rights
consultations with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International
Trade, Ed Broadbent, president of the International Centre for Human Rights
and Democratic Development, argued that a number of provisions in international
human rights treaties that are binding on both Canada and Mexico pertain
directly to the current situation. In making this point he observed that
"indigenous peoples, whose right to self-determination is involved,
are excluded from the processes intended to deal with the implementation
and impact of NAFTA. Furthermore, their protests about the economic transformation
underway have been met with harassment and repression, and even torture
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, headed a mission sponsored
by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development
to investigate human rights violations in Chiapas. Upon its return to
Canada on 20 January, the delegation released a toughly worded statement
of findings which also made a number of recommendations to the governments
of Mexico and Canada. At a press conference, Mercredi insisted on "an
inseparable link between human rights and trade" and asked: "Do
we respect human rights, or are we selective about respecting human rights
in some countries?"(25)
The group's report, which was presented to the Canadian government, revived
an earlier proposal developed by the Centre for the creation of a "trilateral,
independent human rights monitoring agency that would be mandated to observe,
receive complaints, investigate and report annually to the three legislatures
on the human rights performance of all three countries, particularly in
the context of the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement."(26)
(In the U.S., Americas Watch, in its October 1993 letter to President
Clinton, had called for an early meeting of NAFTA heads of government
on human rights issues, and had urged that the three governments ratify
the American Convention on Human Rights and agree to be bound by
decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the judicial body
of the Organization of American States.)
delegation that had returned from Chiapas a few days earlier also called
for a strong Canadian response. It recommended the establishment of an
all-party parliamentary fact-finding "mission to Mexico, in consultation
with Mexican and Canadian civil and human rights organizations and the
Mexican government, in order to investigate the current situation in Chiapas
and make recommendations to the Canadian government with respect to its
human rights policy [in] trade relations with Mexico."(27)
Other international investigations, such as that by an Amnesty International
delegation, and subsequently by the International Commission of Jurists
and Human Rights Watch, as well as those conducted by Mexican human rights
NGOs and Mexico's own National Commission, generally confirm the gravity
of the human rights violations in Chiapas attributed to the Mexican security
With the start
of peace negotiations between the rebels and the Mexican authorities in
late February 1994, and some indications of early progress, the country
may be entering a new phase in its political development; the outcome
of which is uncertain, however. The question before Mexico's North American
partners is whether they can support positive change towards greater democracy
and respect for human rights, and if so, how. The Salinas government has
been understandably sensitive to the damage that the Chiapas uprising
could do to its reputation and to Mexico's international standing and
it has not welcomed any attention it deems to be unfriendly. For example,
Mexican Deputy Foreign Secretary Andres Rozental reacted sharply to early
February congressional hearings by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Western
Hemisphere Subcommittee chaired by NAFTA opponent Democrat Robert Torricelli.
Rozental warned that: "the implementation of the North American Free
Trade Agreement does not give anyone outside Mexico the right to sit in
judgment on matters that Mexicans are solely responsible for resolving."
The next few months
leading up to the August presidential elections in Mexico will test both
the seriousness of Canada's policy on human rights in such controversial
contexts, and the capacity of the Mexican government to meet deep internal
challenges to its legitimacy in the glare of intense external scrutiny.
Perhaps most importantly, this period may determine whether the Mexican
people can emerge better off after both the painful economic adjustments
of recent years, and the shock to the political system delivered by the
Zapatistas since January 1994.
See the article by prominent government critic Jorge Castaneda, "The
Other Mexico Reveals Itself," The Ottawa Citizen, 7 January,
1994, p. A9.
"Survey of Mexico," The Economist, 13 February, 1993,
See Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, "Reaching Democracy from Chiapas,"
El Financiero, 2 March 1992; Michael Coppedge, "Mexican Democracy:
You Can't Get There from Here," in Riordan Roett, ed., Political
and Economic Liberalization in Mexico: At A Critical Juncture?, Lynne
Rienner Publishers, Boulder & London, 1993.
Cited in Marci McDonald, "Mexico's Wake-Up Call," Maclean's,
7 February 1994, p. 37.
"Mexico's Second-Class Citizens Say Enough Is Enough," The
Economist, 8 January 1994, p. 42.
Numerous articles and books explore aspects of this debate. See especially:
Richard Belous and Jonathan Lemco, eds., NAFTA as a Model of Development:
The Benefits and Costs of Merging High and Low Wage Areas, National
Planning Association Report #266, Washington, D.C., 1993.
Peter Morici, "Grasping the Benefits of NAFTA," Current History,
special issue on Mexico, Vol. 92, No. 571, February 1993, p. 50,
"Mexico," Americas Watch, New York and Washington D.C.,
Vol. V, No. 10, October 1993, p. 12.
Cited in Gerald Schmitz, "Human Rights, Democratization, and International
Conflict," in Fen Hampson and Christopher Maule, eds., Canada
Among Nations 1992-93: A New World Order?, Carleton University Press,
Ottawa, 1992, p. 242.
See Leslie Norton, "L'incidence de la violation flagrante et sytématique
des droits de la personne sur les relations bilatérales du Canada,"
Études internationales, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, December 1993, p. 787-811.
This is based perhaps more on faith than evidence. Recent scholarship
is sceptical of assumptions that economic liberalization will assist sustainable
democratic transitions. See, for example, "Economic Liberalization
and Democratization: Explorations of the Linkages," special issue
of World Development, Vol. 21, No. 8, August 1993.
For a succinct critical assessment of its provisions see Ann Weston, "The
NAFTA Labour Side-Agreement: Soft Bark and Not Much Bite?," Review:
A Newsletter of the North-South Institute, Winter 1994, p. 7-8.
"Canadian Investment in Mexico Expected To Rise Despite Conflict,
Says Trade Minister," The Ottawa Citizen, 15 January 1994,
Cited by Ed Broadbent, President of the International Centre for Human
Rights and Democratic Development in his "Intervention on Mexico"
during the consultations in preparation for the 50th session of the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights, Ottawa, 19 January 1994.
Mexico might even be said to be a leader in the area of ratification
including acceptance of 73 of 171 International Labour Organization (ILO)
conventions though obviously such ratification has not produced
a lead in either enforcement or practice. The U.S. has only just ratified
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Canada
did so in 1976), and is alone among the three in not having ratified the
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
Thomas Gibbons, "Tough Trade-Offs," Human Rights, Vol. 19,
No. 2, Spring 1992, p. 26-30.
Ben Barber, "Human Rights Report Sets Global Standard," The
Christian Science Monitor, 26 January, p. 8.
See International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund, "Labor
Rights in Mexico," Petition and Request for Review to the U.S. Trade
Representative, 1 June 1993, reprinted in "Organizing Workers in
Mexico, A NAFTA Issue," Hearing before the Employment, Housing, and
Aviation Subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations, House
of Representatives, 15 July 1993, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington
Ellen Lutz, "Human Rights in Mexico: Cause for Continuing Concern,"
Current History, February 1993, p. 78ff.
"Mexico: Human Rights Watch/Americas Watch Writes to President Clinton
Urging NAFTA Summit on Human Rights," Washington D.C., 26 October
1993, News From America Watch, October 1993, p. 2-3.
"Mexico," Americas Watch, October 1993, p. 10.
Stephan Haggard and Steven Webb, "What Do We Know about the Political
Economy of Economic Policy Reform?" referring to the study by Kaufman,
Bazdresch and Heredia on "The Mexican Solidarity Pact of 1989"
(The World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 8, No. 2, July
1993, p. 150.)
Roy Culpeper and Ann Weston, "Responding to Chiapas: Canada at the
Crossroads," The Winnipeg Free Press, 13 January 1994, p. A7.
"Intervention on Mexico," 19 January 1994.
"Link Rights to Trade, Mercredi urges," Toronto Star,
22 January 1994.
"Mission to a Forgotten People," Preliminary Report, International
Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Montreal, January
1994, p. 6.
See "Press Communique: Canadian Delegation to Chiapas," Mexico
City, 15 January 1994, and "Recommendations" presented to the
Departmental human rights consultations, Ottawa, 19 January 1994.