For nearly a quarter century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar trade agreements have prioritized corporate profits over working families, public health and the environment.
Now, as politicians finally discuss renegotiating, repealing or replacing NAFTA, people are gathering together in town halls from coast-to-coast to discuss how NAFTA has specifically impacted their communities and what changes must be prioritized.
The re-opening of NAFTA and other trade agreements should create an opportunity to reverse awful policies that enrich corporate elites at the expense of majorities in the United States, Mexico, Canada and elsewhere. But that won’t happen if the public doesn’t demand a say in what new policies are enacted.
Without massive public opposition, Americans, as well as those of other countries, will remain explicitly barred from knowing what is being proposed in our names, while corporate lobbyists look over trade negotiators’ shoulders and tell them what to include in trade agreements and what to leave out.
In truth, the corporations behind NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are salivating over the chance to re-write the rules of trade agreements even further in their own narrow interests. They see the current moment as an opportunity to further pad their bank accounts at the expense of working families at home and abroad.
The best way to stop rigged trade agreements is to end the corporate-dominate process in which they are created. These community events from Pennsylvania to California and Texas to Minnesota, started in February 2017 and continuing through the spring, are a first step towards enabling working people to discuss their own visions for just trade policies and to learn how to hold elected officials accountable.