Magazine article Anglican Journal

Delegation to Mexico Sees Free Trade Evils: Archbishop (Thomas) Morgan "In Turmoil" over Poverty and Despair

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Delegation to Mexico Sees Free Trade Evils: Archbishop (Thomas) Morgan "In Turmoil" over Poverty and Despair

Article excerpt

An unprecedented level of exploitation in the Americas awaits if free trade is expanded, says Archbishop Thomas Morgan.

Archbishop Morgan, back from a fact-finding trip to Mexico with the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America in early April, said in an interview that the level of poverty he witnessed had left him "in turmoil."

"If what I saw in the City of Juarez is evidence of what has happened under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), then to open up the whole of the Americas to more free trade is to open them up to a level of exploitation we have never known before."

As Quebec City was preparing for the Summit of the Americas, Archbishop Morgan, from the diocese of Saskatoon, was part of an ecumenical group of church leaders that visited communities adversely affected by free trade policies.

He described scenes of despair among the families of workers for international electronic and technology giants, which had opened up factories just south of the U.S. border to take advantage of cheap Mexican labour.

The population of Juarez, which is just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Tex., has swollen to 1.5 million from 60,000 in 1960, with people drawn to work in the factories rather than face starvation on subsistence farms which could not compete with cheaper American imports.

An average worker, Archbishop Morgan said, makes just $95 a month "scarcely enough to buy a jug of milk a day and little else." But, he added, "People preferred to be employed rather than to starve."

The workers live in cardboard houses in Anapra, a shantytown that has sprouted without any infrastructure around Juarez. Anapra has no sewage system or running water, the archbishop said. "A water truck comes once a week to fill the barrels, and if that runs out, they have to buy their water," he said.

The Canadian delegation could not get used to seeing the level of poverty, said Archbishop Morgan. …

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