Big Agriculture’s Latin American Exploits

By William A. Collinsotherwords.org

You may wonder why President Barack Obama is so intent on passing a free-trade agreement with Colombia. One answer is simple enough: Big Agriculture.

Without any tariffs padding the price of our exports, cheap U.S. grain would flood the South American country. That will be good for Cargill, the American agribusiness giant, and Archer Daniels Midland Co., another massive agricultural conglomerate known as ADM. But it may well put thousands of small farmers out of business, just as in Mexico after NAFTA, and in the Dominican Republic and Central America after those countries got their own U.S. free-trade deal, known as DR-CAFTA.

A cooperative Colombia offers other advantages too. For one, the country produces palm oil, not so easily grown in the United States, but cherished by American food processors. Reduced tariffs will be a great boon for them.

Manufacturing presents charms as well. Colombia, after all, is the world leader in murdering trade unionists.

Meanwhile, Nicaragua, a tiny Central American country that dominated U.S. media coverage of Latin America for most of the 1980s, is mostly under the radar these days despite the fact that Daniel Ortega is its president again. But the economic story there is interesting, at least for trade wonks.

Under DR-CAFTA, Nicaragua will lose its poultry tariff protection in 2017. Meanwhile, Cargill is actively monopolizing the chicken business in that country. Thus again, local producers are on track to be driven completely out of business within six years.

Colombia and Nicaragua aside, a new generation of Latin American leaders has opted to defy Washington’s traditional dominance over the region. In addition to becoming less reliant on U.S. exports to sustain their economies and setting limits on foreign investment, these countries are boosting spending on such things as education, health, and housing.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is probably the best known of these leaders, and the most outspoken foe of U.S. hegemony. Cancer, not a coup, may remove him from the scene. Maybe then, Washington can at last help Venezuela’s wealthy elite return to power.

OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut. http://otherwords.org

[Photo By momentcaptured1]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

Ethnic Cleansing in El Paso, Texas is a Warning for the Nation

Victor Landa August 18, 2019

President Trump owes our border community and all Latinos in America an apology for encouraging ethnic cleansing. He must take back his hate-filled words toward Mexicans, immigrants and asylum seekers […]

Anti-Latino hate is not new

Victor Landa September 6, 2019

The 21-year-old who murdered 22 people in El Paso added another chapter to the long history of anti-Latino violence in the United States. He pulled the trigger alone, but acted […]

Progressives, Hispanics are not ‘Latinx.’ Stop trying to Anglicize our Spanish language.

Victor Landa October 29, 2019

OPINION When Yale professor Cydney Dupree and her colleague analyzed more than two decades worth of political speeches and conducted experiments searching for bias when communicating with racial minorities, they were surprised […]

Revenue is soaring for Latino-owned companies

Victor Landa October 24, 2019

Latino-owned small businesses have struck gold — and are growing faster than the competition, according to a new study. The average revenue of Latino-owned restaurants, retail stores, construction companies and […]

As Trump seeks reelection, immigrant voters stand in his path

Victor Landa

HOUSTON — This is where a nation changes: a public school auditorium that moonlights as a veritable citizenship factory. At the M.O. Campbell Educational Center, where murals honoring the arts and sciences […]

How politics threatens the 2020 Census

Victor Landa

A new report should raise alarms about the upcoming 2020 Census. According to the Pew Research Center, the good news is that the overwhelming majority of Americans are aware of the […]

One thing has united different Latino generations — defeating Trump

Victor Landa October 29, 2019

Sunday dinners in the Tambara household were more than a weekly source of food — they brought revelry, reminiscence and sometimes heated political debate — especially as presidential elections approached.  […]

Trump campaign trolls Biden by purchasing his Latino voter website

Victor Landa

Shortly after former Vice President Joe Biden announced his 2020 campaign’s effort to attract Latino voters, President Trump’s reelection campaign trolled the Democratic front-runner by purchasing the Latino voter URL named after the […]