"For us campesinos, the problem is that we are just beginning to understand all the implications of free trade and having to compete against U.S. farmers. We don't know why it has to be this way, but it probably means the end to our communities."
—Margarito Sánchez of Tuxtepec, Veracruz, February 1994.
Pressure from the United States and the multilateral banks, along with Mexico's own determination to secure a prominent place in the global economy, helped launch the NAFTA negotiations in 1990. Desperate for foreign capital to finance its widening trade deficit and eager to gain better access to the world's largest market, Mexico proposed that the U.S.-Canada free trade region be extended south to include all three North American countries. The United States, however, had been suggesting hemispheric free trade since the early 1980s. After having decided to renege on its promise to join GATT in 1980 because of nationalist pressures within the López Portillo government, Mexico did sign the multilateral trade agreement in late 1985 and quickened the pace of trade liberalization. 1