México NAFTA



Soberanía Alimentaria

100 years after the Revolution

Today, like then, and more than ever: Land and Freedom

A cry for justice that is still as valid

and necessary as ever



November 20, 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution that overthrew the Porfirio Díaz regime (1876-1911). It was the world’s first social revolution of the 20th century. A century later, the causes that sparked this popular uprising and gave way to the revolutionary movement are not only still present, they are felt even more brutally by the vast majority of Mexican families. And hunger is the leading cause.



More exclusion,

less democracy

Land! Only land! / The Indians have risen / to recover the land that the hacendados took from them /  Zapata, leader of southern Mexico / apostle of conviction / was the voice of the land / their voice of liberation.

(“La Tierra, Sólo la Tierra” - Revolutionary Corrido, Mexican folksong)



One hundred years after the Revolution, Mexico is still a country as rich as it is unjust, with a society increasingly submerged in poverty, hunger and exclusion.


Current statistics reveal that 10 percent of the population concentrates 42 percent of all income, while 60 million Mexicans subsist in poverty.


According to ECLAC (the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), four out of every 10 Mexican children are poor, that’s a total of 4 million or 18 percent of all poor children in Latin America.


And the situation is not any better in the field of education. At a public ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Revolution, José Narro Robles, president of Mexico’s leading university, UNAM, gave some alarming figures: “Today, in 2010, there are 5.8 million people in Mexico who do not know how to read and write, a number not very far below the 7.8 million illiterate persons that existed before the armed movement.


A hundred years ago the peasant movement was the architect and main force behind the Revolution. Mexico’s powerful groups have obviously neither forgotten nor forgiven that “excess” and have been implementing an economic and social model that excludes the peasant population and causes an outrageous emptying of the countryside.


This exodus explains why 76 percent of the 105 million Mexicans who live in the cities are just struggling to get by. Of the population that remains in rural areas, eight out of every ten persons lives in extreme poverty and is barely surviving.



Despite increased spending in food imports, 14.42 million Mexicans were living in food poverty in 2006, and by 2008 that figure had shot up to 19.46 million. Recent data reveals that 46 percent of the population suffers from low to severe food insecurity.

 (Carlos Fernández-Vega, La Jornada)




There are less and less farmers, and those who do remain are becoming increasingly poorer, as reported by professor Víctor Palacio Muñóz: “In 1991 nearly 58 percent of all small agricultural producers earned a daily income that monthly amounted to less than a minimum wage. In 2003 that percentage had increased to 77 percent, and it is possible that it is now over 80 percent.”


“A basic food basket costs 2.46 monthly minimum wages,” Muñóz said, illustrating the severity of the crisis that affects rural families.


More hunger,

less sovereignty

…NAFTA, good ol’ NAFTA….

Land for the peasants / that’s the main goal / because only they, gentlemen, / will use it to grow / Favor the community / above the individual owner / and always put / communal rights first.

(“Corrido de la Canción de Zapata Vivo,” Mexican folksong)


Mexico’s food sovereignty has been severely eroded with the advancement of neoliberalism and the signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada (NAFTA), which went into force in 1994.


If the food security of Pancho Villa’s and Emiliano Zapata’s troops had depended on food imports as Mexico does today to feed its population, the country would not be celebrating 100 years of Revolution.


At present, Mexico’s countryside produces more migrants than it does food and it exports more farmers than it does farm products,” Miguel Ángel Escalona1 sentences.


Food imports have grown steadily over the last ten years. In 2004 Mexico imported 10 percent of the food it consumed; by 2006 it was importing 40 percent; and today it imports almost 52 percent, and the tendency is for it to keep on rising.


The birthplace of corn is importing about 33 percent of the domestic demand for this cereal -some 600,000 tons a month- and, as stated recently by the general secretary of the National Confederation of Corn Producers of Mexico (CNPAMM), Carlos Salazar, “Due to domestic demand and the scarce support for national production, in one year the country will have imported some 14 million tons of corn.”2


It also imports 75 percent of the rice it consumes, and according to data from the National Peasant Confederation (CNC), in the last three years beef imports have grown by 440 percent, poultry meat imports by 280 percent, and pork by 210 percent.



From January to March 2010 Mexico - a country with over 10,000 kilometers of coast - increased by nearly 50 percent its imports of fresh and chilled fish.




While Mexico has the highest per capita consumption of soft drinks in the world, with an annual 112 liters per person, its annual per capita consumption of milk is an average of 97 liters, barely 50 percent of the amount recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). But there is another problem here: the volume of milk produced domestically is not enough to cover even that demand and the country is forced to import about 190,000 tons.


Before NAFTA came on the scene, Mexico exported sugar. Now the country not only imports nearly 600,000 tons of fructose, it also buys 250,000 of cane sugar abroad.


More empty stomachs,

Less State

Poor Mexico, so close to the United States, so far from bread

I’m leaving now, going to follow my destiny / I don’t want to be a farmhand anymore / I’m taking the new path / blazed by the Revolution / and if ever I come back, it’ll be as a peasant / who won’t be working to fatten up any masters.

(“Nos dejaron los olotes,” Revolutionary Corrido)


The results of a survey on the state of children and adolescents in the context of the world financial crisis, conducted in the second half of 2009 by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the National Council for the Assessment of Social Development Policies (CONEVAL), would be enough to merit another revolutionary uprising.


Carlos Fernández-Vega3 informs that that study found that “in just one year the percentage of Mexican households affected by severe food insecurity more than doubled, up from 8 percent in 2008 to 17 percent in 2009.”


The most dramatic change experienced from 2008 to 2009 was in the percentage of homes that declared they had at least one child who had eaten less than necessary, as this figure jumped from 14 to 26 percent - that is, an increase of 86 percent over the period considered.


 “One out of three households admitted they considered buying cheaper or poorer quality food products as a way of improving their home economy, and two out of three households reported having resorted to that strategy in 2009,” Fernández-Vega notes.


According to data from the Central Bank of Mexico, in the first 52 months of the administration of President Felipe Calderón, whose term will end in 2012, the country squandered almost 43 billion US dollars buying food abroad - that’s double what Calderón’s predecessor spent in a similar period.


In March alone, a total of US$1.23 billion - or US$1.7 million an hour - were spent on food imports, primarily milk, corn and wheat from the United States.4


Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEG) reports that, in contrast, in that same month the country’s dwindling agricultural activities contributed with only 3.5 percent of the national GDP.


Data from the political group Central Campesina Cardenista reveals that Mexico currently imports 99 percent of the powdered milk, 60 percent of the beef, 80 percent of the rice, 90 percent of the oilseeds and 35 percent of the sorghum it consumes.


If the trend continues -and it is expected to increase-, at the end of President Calderón’s term Mexico will have spent some US$70 billion in food imports.


This situation poses two resounding questions: How many jobs would be created if this massive amount of money were to be used to implement proper policies? How many people would be able to live and produce decently in the countryside? How many small and medium-sized food companies would be developed? What kind of country would Mexico be today?



Gerardo Iglesias


July 25 2011







1 – Researcher at Universidad Veracruzana.

2 - El Universal, May 3, 2011

3 - La Jornada, November 20, 2010

4 - La Jornada, June 4, 2011





can cause heart failure


It’s no laughing matter: obesity takes years of your life.

Walk or run at least 30 minutes a day.


The federal government promotes actions to combat obesity

and excess weight.

Visit Prevenimss at least once a year


The Federal Government.

Mexico 2010


So, according to this ad,

the government is not starving us to death, it’s looking out for our health!




Ilustraciones: CartonClub






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