When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994, it was not only meant to put Mexico on the fast track to economic recovery and development, but to quickly reverse the severely declining fortunes of a large part of the Mexican population, extending from middle-class professionals to extremely poor campesinos. It was hoped that employment opportunities would grow in number, in quality and in remuneration. In the words of Mexico’s then-President Carlos Salinas, the Agreement was supposed to create jobs instead of migrants. It hasn’t worked out that way. Since 1994, workers in Mexico have faced stagnant real wages and a dramatic decline in employment opportunities. For many Mexicans, holding a decent, steady job has become either a distant memory or a hopeful dream. This Report explores how, for both sides, NAFTA has become a powerful touchstone in all free-trade debates and in struggles for labor rights in the America.
Mexican Workers Since NAFTA