In terms of recent economic conquest, free trade agreements -namely the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)—have proven to be formidable components of the US arsenal.
NAFTA, for example, flooded the Mexican market with subsidised agricultural products from the US – in blatant violation, incidentally, of the very principle of “free trade” and in reaffirmation of America’s golden double standard.
To be sure, there’s nothing like having one’s subsidised corn and eating it too.
The upshot in this case was that several million Mexican farmers saw their livelihoods destroyed, with the resulting mass displacement of human beings arguably constituting a form of violence in itself.
In a recent email to me, Dr. Adrienne Pine – an anthropologist at American University in Washington, DC – outlined some of the other perks of NAFTA and CAFTA-DR.
“[They] have been disastrous for citizens of all the countries involved (including the United States), yet hugely beneficial for corporations… They have destroyed crop diversity and the viability of small businesses, laid waste to hard-won labour and environmental protections, prevented access to life-saving pharmaceutical treatments for all but the very wealthy, and dramatically increased the wealth gap”.