I'm busy writing a book on Obama. Don't get your hopes up too high: I may not finish. Roughly 153 other half-finished books lurk within the bowels of my various hard drives. The long form is tough; that's why I segued into blogging.
While researching Obama's changing stances on NAFTA and free trade, I discovered that this month marks an important anniversary. In June of 2010, in the small Mexican mining town of Cananea -- just 30 miles south of Arizona -- the independent union los Mineros led a strike against a transnational copper mining company. Mexican President Felipe Calderón was determined to break the strike.
No-one would ever characterize him as friendly to labor. His party, the PAN, had tried very hard to make all strikes illegal in Mexico.
Usually, large corporations south of the border use "protection unions" to quash troublemakers. These "unions" are supposed to represent the workers, but they're actually controlled by the bosses, and they do everything possible to keep pay beneath the inflation rate. When necessary, they use violence to bring the obstreperous into line.
In recent times, the protection union system has begun to falter. At an automotive interiors plant in Puebla -- run by the Wisconsin-based mega-firm Johnson Controls -- the protection union thugs could not prevent a major strike, even when they threatened strike leaders at gunpoint. The company had no choice but to cut a deal with a genuine
union -- Los Mineros. Previously, the new hires at the plant made all of seven bucks a day, working 60 or more hours a week in a plant reeking of toxins. (And rents aren't so very cheap in that town. Look 'em up.) I don't know how much they are making now.
On June 6, Calderón decided that the situation in Cananea was getting out of hand. He didn't want a repeat of the Puebla stand-off, and he knew that the protection unions had lost some of their power to intimidate. So he called in the military. Roughly 2000 federal troops (some estimates go much higher) descended on the small town. There was an armada of helicopters and military vehicles. Mass violence ensued, and the entire town was tear gassed -- men, women and children.
Here's the thing: A lot of people watching the situation knew in advance that something nasty was about to go down. Two weeks before the attack, Calderón visited the White House, where he was honored with a state dinner. On that occasion, representatives from the AFL-CIO and other labor unions rushed to the White House, hoping to speak to Obama. They didn't get through. The labor leaders told Obama's people about the impending violence in Cananea, and they begged Obama to keep a leash on the Mexican president.Don't worry
, said the White House staffers. We'll make sure your message gets through. We're on your side. We're your friends.
You know what happened next.
Did Obama condemn Calderón's resort to military force against his own people? No. At least, I've not been able to find any mention of the event -- laudatory, condemnatory, or neutral -- in any official statement.
In fact, the major America media refused to consider this act of mass violence newsworthy. Most of you are learning about it for the first time right here and now.
Imagine the outraged commentary we'd hear if such a confrontation occurred in Venezuela or in some other nation that the Washington elite dislikes. Imagine the nonstop teevee coverage if the year were 1985 and the tear-gassed strikers were Polish.
(Come to think of it, those Mexican "protection unions" sound an awful lot like the fake workers' unions that used to be common in the East bloc.)
The polling is consistent: The majority of Mexicans despise NAFTA, which has destroyed the middle class in that country. The majority of Canadians want the treaty renegotiated. The majority of Americans think that NAFTA has helped to destroy American jobs. The common people in all three nations understand that NAFTA was never a trade agreement -- it's an outsourcing agreement. It's a treaty designed to keep wages on an ever-downward spiral. It's also a treaty designed to wrest control of natural resources away from elected officials.
If the people do not want NAFTA, why is the thing still there?
Wasn't Obama supposed to be the anti
Last question: If (as the tea partiers continually bray) Obama is in the clutches of Big Labor, then why doesn't the guy ever do anything for