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Rebellion in Mexico and NAFTA

January 15, 1994

* The rebels in Chiapas followed their own timetable (Jan. 4). Such a large-scale operation obviously required long-range planning. The fact that it coincided with the implementation of NAFTA may or may not have been deliberate. But the relationship to NAFTA is evident.

NAFTA is one of several recent actions by the Mexican government which favor wealthy investors over Mexico's people. Another such action was the abolishment of the ejido system of land tenure, which had previously protected small farmers.

The elite of the world ignore the rights of the poor until the poor force them to pay attention. Indigenous people of Chiapas reacted to policies of which NAFTA is a part.

What NAFTA is to Mexico, GATT is to the world. Indigenous and poor people everywhere have much to fear from this so-called free trade.

PATRICK BONNER

Los Angeles

* The violent uprising in Mexico indicates not everyone is completely sold on free trade and capitalism. Since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, capitalism has become synonymous with freedom and human rights. But history has shown that capitalism also can breed economic slavery and greed.

The sweatshops of the early 1900s are a good example of the underside of capitalism. A few men became wealthy while others, including children, were exploited and made to work long hours just to survive. These abuses spawned unions to protect workers and laws like the minimum wage to even the playing field.

While NAFTA may be economically good for Mexico, it will surely destroy the country's way of life. I enjoy Mexico for its slow pace and uniqueness, not its beaches or accommodations. It would be a shame to see Mexico sell its soul for a few more pesos.

CLEM DOMINGUEZ

Huntington Beach

* Your articles concerning the uprising in Chiapas miss the most obvious (unmentioned) fact: These peasants are rebelling against Mexico because it is a brutal despotism which practices institutionalized torture and death squad-style executions. Any union organizer or an opposition journalist is likely to be found face down in a ditch outside Mexico City, his (or her) body covered with bruises, cuts, or missing appendages, courtesy of the American-trained paramilitary counterinsurgency squads (which would explain any puzzling request of the rebels for the U.S. to stop training Mexican "police"). Until the government corresponds to internationally accepted norms of conduct and the corporate-owned PRI is replaced with a liberal democracy, there can be no end to the bloodshed.

JOE VALENZUELA

Grand Terrace

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