Just as PNAC or the Project for the New American Century helped us to think about underlying motives for the public shams of the war on terrorism, so might CNAC or the Compact for North American Competitiveness help us to think about drama at the border between Mexico and the USA. Already CNAC’s preferences for “border security” and “temporary workers” have attracted friends with clout, but did you know that Mexican oil is also on the agenda?
Shortly after last year’s Waco Summit brought together three North American heads of state, Bush, Fox, and Martin, a CNAC proposal was released by the US Council of the Mexico-US Business Committee (MEXUS), an organization which predates the Council of the Americas (COA) to which it now belongs.
The April 2005 report is signed by COA heavyweights Robert Mosbacher and James Jones, backed by a leadership team composed of ChevronTexaco, Eastman Kodak, First Data, Ford Motor, Kissinger McLarty, Manatt Jones Global Strategies, Merck, MetLife, Miller and Chevalier, Nextel, and Proctor and Gamble.
In a preface to the report, MEXUS takes a lot of credit for creating NAFTA or the North American Free Trade Agreement; brags about publishing “NAFTA Works”; and promises to maintain leadership for “increasing competitiveness” in the unified North American bloc.
The fact that seems to irritate this report more than any other is that despite NAFTA the maquiladora sector of the Mexican economy had managed to lose 250,000 jobs to China in the first five years of the new American century. This fact also locates the area that CNAC authors are most interested to address: how to fix the problems of Mexico so that the NAFTA alliance can steal back those maquiladora jobs. One key task is “free and secure” trade through borders which commodities can speed quickly, but which must do a better job screening people.
Concurrent with release of this report last April, the Minutemen were quietly fading into the margins of the media when their profile was rescued by terminator Governor Schwarzenegger of California. At that time, remember, Schwarzenegger miscued himself by talking about “closing the border”, a line he later delivered closer to script.
“Yesterday was a total screw-up in the words I used,” the governor said at a press conference. “Because instead of closing, I meant securing.” With those words, pieces of the border puzzle had actually locked into place last April, soon followed last May by a caucus report from Congress calling for 36,000 national guard at the border. At the time, the idea seemed far-fetched, like the idea of full-scale invasions had sounded a few years before that.
As we now know, the President has fulfilled the 2005 prophesies by sending thousands of troops to replace the function modeled by the Minutemen, just as Schwarzenegger and the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus had suggested in the first place.
Besides “border security” the CNAC report is clear in its preference for a second darling policy favored by Bush and Companies: an “enforceable temporary worker program that will match willing workers with willing employers, bringing order and increased security to current haphazard patterns of immigration.” We haven’t heard the end of this idea this year. Having a global temp service is really too tempting for Mexico’s continental partners to ignore.
Given the momentum that security and temp work are having in the real world today, it is worth noting a third area of prime concern for CNAC, and that is reform of Mexico’s oil and gas industry. In the near term, says the CNAC report, the Mexican government has to improve opportunities for private investment and in the long term Mexico has to find “cost-effective means to raise production.” Unless this is done, says the CNAC report, “security and competitiveness within North America will be impacted.”
This past weekend in its coverage of the Mexican presidential race, scheduled for July 2, the Associated Press clearly outlined the positions of each major candidate on reforming the Mexican oil and gas sector. While reading those news reports online I got the queasy feeling that CNAC was beginning to look like PNAC all over again.
GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org