NAFTA, Environmental Crises, and Social Justice: Cases from the Agricultural Practices of Chiapanecos
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This paper examines the environmental justice impacts of NAFTA on the Mexican state of Chiapas and its inhabitants through the lens of agricultural production. Focusing on the corn, dairy, and coffee industries, I use environmental justice theory, economic policy, agricultural production reports, testimony, and critical theory to demonstrate that NAFTA has caused environmental injustices in Mexico among small-scale corn farmers as well as in Vermont dairies among Mexican migrant workers. I examine an indigenous coffee cooperative to gauge the potential for sustainable and environmentally just development in Mexico as an alternative to transnational corporate agroindustry. The coffee farming model demonstrates the impossibility of escaping consumer capitalist markets that are steeped in paternalistic relations, destroy natural resources, and restrict personal freedoms. Overall, the implementation of NAFTA has resulted in massive land and food security problems for the rural campesino and indigena population in Chiapas and has contributed to ecological devastation. The trade agreement, which demonstrates neocolonialism, has led to the accumulation of resources in the United States at Chiapas’ expense.