A People’s History of the Great Irish Famine and What it Means for us Today

So that is the people’s history of the Irish Great Famine. Massive starvation, death, and migration in a land that probably had enough food to feed its people. The British could have instituted different policies to save the Irish people, but instead they opted for greed and exploitation. In another century, a British Prime Minister recognizes mistakes were made.

But history keeps repeating itself.

Today countries have instituted free trade policies, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, that are exploiting the poor all over the world. Unfortunately, unlike my ancestors there is often not the option of escape in migration for the poor of the world.

For example, the city of Juarez, a border city in Mexico, is a killing field. Small Mexican farmers have been forced to sell their lands and move to the cities in search of work because they can’t compete with the wealthy corporate farming conglomerates. Many found work in factories in the border towns, but a lot of those factories have been shut down because of Asian competition.

You can see the poverty from across the border from El Paso. The dilapidated houses on the hill. But in the city, there is not only poverty but tremendous fear. No one goes out at night and everyone watches their back. In 2008, citizens in Juarez had a three and a half times greater risk of being killed than in Baghdad, and it hasn’t gotten any better. The drug lords and drug money rule the city.

“….You have a city where no one goes out at night; where small businesses all pay extortion; where 20,000 cars were officially stolen last year; where 2,600-plus people were officially murdered last year; where nobody keeps track of the people who have been kidnapped and never come back; where nobody counts the people buried in secret burying grounds, and they, in an unseemly way, claw out of the earth from time to time. You’ve got a disaster. And you have a million people, too poor to leave, imprisoned in it…..

….But we are destroying, or helping to destroy, a country next door by our policies. Although there are many explanations for the problems in Mexico, and most of them lie with Mexicans, but certainly our economic policy, NAFTA, our drug policies, the war on drugs, and our militarization of the country have proven to be nothing but a disaster for the Mexican people…..
Charles Bowden, author of “The War Next Door” from Democracy Now

Unlike the people of Ireland during the Great Famine, the people of Mexico are now finding no escape from the poverty and drug wars that are destroying their country. There is no hope in the Mexican cities and American laws and border patrol make it more difficult to get into the United States.

America’s answer to the collapse of Mexico is to sell the Mexican government more arms and to offer it more military training. But we should be reconsidering so called ‘free trade’ agreements that only enrich the elites of both the United States and Mexico and changing American drug laws so that there could be a more humane approach to the problem. Instead, the American government continues with policies that exploit and take advantage of the poor of Mexico.?One hundred and fifty years from now, people will look back and say that Mexico’s tremendous poverty, war, migration, and attempted migration was the result of the social and economic policies of the United States.

There might even be an apology.

Hopefully in one hundred and fifty years, the people will have learned the lesson of disaster capitalism and unfair trade policies. But it will do nothing for the hundreds of millions that suffer in both countries today. Nor will it do anything for the billions that now suffer around the world because of economic globalization that only further enriches the super rich as it steals hope and food from the poor. (Posted by Bulatlat.com)

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