NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States

NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States

NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States

NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States

Synopsis

Kingsolver presents the fears & fantasies that people express regarding NAFTA, analyzing what they reveal about the relationship between national governments & their publics.

Excerpt

On November 20, 1993, I stood in line with friends at the U.S. Capitol to enter the Senate gallery. I wanted to see the senators debate the North American Free Trade Agreement in the final moments before their vote on the NAFTA Implementation Act. It was a long wait for a short shift in the gallery, but it seemed worth it to be an eyewitness to policy being enacted on behalf of millions of U.S. citizens. I was a disappointed citizen and eyewitness. It seemed emblematic of the entire NAFTA debate up to that time that we in the gallery were told not to read or write and not to make any noise. I looked down, expecting to see the exchange that we had been asked to observe with dignity, but there was hardly any dignity to observe. The senators, it became apparent as the presiding individual allowed his annoyance to be more and more transparent, were nowhere to be seen by the public. They were not engaged in a public debate of NAFTA. Those speeches were already written or waiting to be written for submission to the Congressional Record. The Agreement had been approved by the House on November 17, and perhaps this vote seemed a “done deal.” Most of the senators, having abandoned the lone speaker discussing grain production with a great deal of animation aimed at the C-SPAN camera, were in a back room watching a college football game on television and listening to others on the radio. Notre Dame lost to Boston College 39–41, West Virginia defeated Miami, and the senators voted 61–38 to approve the North American Free Trade Agreement.

An excerpt from the Congressional Record reflects the absurdity of that moment:

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