Hundreds of Mexican campesinos have marched through the streets of Mexico City for the second day to demand the government stop cuts to vital programs and leave agriculture out of the new NAFTA free trade agreement.

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Members of the Permanent Agrarian Congress, CAP and the Authentic Front of the Field, FAC, participated in mass demonstrations in Mexico City and other states in protest of the federal government’s proposed cuts to programs that support campesinos and the agricultural sector.

Campesinos also complained that they were excluded from the Ministry of Agricultural Development and the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, Sagarpa.

Cesar Recova Romero, the leader of the National Union of Agricultural Workers, UNTA, said the campesinos will continue the nationwide demonstrations on August 9 and 10, a date which also commemorates the birth of Emiliano Zapata, a leading figure in the Mexican revolution and the agrarian Zapatismo movement.

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"Campesinos march against proposed cuts."

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"Mexican campesinos denounce government neglect."

Both organizations called on federal and state governments to meet the needs of the productive sector and stop proposed cuts to programs like the Support Program for Corn and Bean Producers, PIMAF and ProAgro.

PIMAF leader Alejandro Martinez said 13 municipalities from the state of Tlaxcalan were excluded from the program, a situation he considers a brutal act of negligence.

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"Agricultural workers gather in the zocalo of Mexico City in front of the National Palace."

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"Campesinos march toward the zocalo in Mexico City."

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"Campesinos head toward the National Palace. Strong security presence blocks the march from the zocalo."

"It’s brutal what this federal government is doing with the people of the country. Today we are told that 13 municipalities of the state of Tlaxcala such as: Apizaco, Calpulalpan, Huamantla, Nanacamilpa, Nativitas, Panotla, Papalotla, Texoloc, Tocatlan, Tzompantepec, Xalostoc and Yauquemecan will not benefit from the PIMAF program," Martinez said.

He said that in 2016, producers received 2,200 pesos per hectare of produce but this year the government dropped the price to 1,500 pesos.

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The march comes amid a wider protest against the renegotiation of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.

On Monday, campesinos marched from the Angel of Independence to the Ministry of the Interior to demand the government leave agriculture out of the NAFTA agreement.

Campesinos predict Peña Nieto will place the interests of transnational food corporations above the needs of the country’s small-scale farmers and further jeopardize the agricultural sector.

“We are not going to allow an unfavorable negotiation or that we fall on our knees before the United States. This is the beginning of a campaign for the agricultural sector to be completely excluded from NAFTA,” said Ayala National Coordination Scheme, a campesino collective that defends land rights.

Agrarian organizations and popular movements have long criticized NAFTA for devastating the country’s small producers and hurting Mexico’s overall food sovereignty, turning the country into an exporter of raw materials and an importer of processed products.

Mexico experienced a massive surge of U.S. investment following NAFTA’s 1994 implementation that produced half a million manufacturing jobs through 2002. But in the same period, 1.3 million workers within the agricultural sector — where a fifth of all Mexicans were employed at the time — were displaced.

More campesino protests are planned ahead of the NAFTA negotiations which are set to take place August 16 to 20 in Washington, D.C.

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"Campesinos march toward the Interior Ministry to demand the government comply with its agreements."

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"Campesinos say the Mexican government has sold out to U.S. interests and demand to leave NAFTA."



Source

Latin America News

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