MEXICO NEWS AND ANALYSIS: SEPT 24-30, 2012

1 - HUMAN RIGHTS CARAVAN PUBLISHES VIDEO TESTIMONY
2 - US ELECTION MAY PRECIPITATE NEW TRADE WAR
3 - LOWER HOUSE APPROVES LABOR BILL
4 - MSN PROGRAMS

1 - HUMAN RIGHTS CARAVAN PUBLISHES VIDEO TESTIMONY

A human rights caravan organized by the Network against Repression and for Solidarity published video testimony this week from residents of the community Comandante Abel, which is under attack by paramilitary groups in Chiapas.

 

2 - US ELECTION MAY PRECIPITATE NEW TRADE WAR

Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes may precipitate a trade war between the US and Mexico as the Obama administration seeks to end a 16-year agreement controlling tomato imports. About half the tomatoes consumed in the US are produced in Mexico, while many of the rest are produced by a handful of powerful families in Florida. The complex trade agreement, in place since 1996, sets a minimum price for imported Mexican tomatoes, allowing corporate growers south of the border to control at least US$1.8 billion of the US market, particularly the rapidly expanding vine-ripened market. US growers want the Commerce Department to end the agreement, which would open the door for formal charges against Mexican growers for unfair trade practices, including dumping tomatoes at below the cost of production. The Obama administration may agree, in a play for Florida’s critical Electoral College votes. Mexican growers are willing to establish a higher floor price for imports, arguing that abolishing the agreement would threaten 350,000 jobs in Mexico, but US growers are unlikely to bend since they wield substantial political clout on the eve of the presidential election. Mexican authorities threatened retaliation through tariffs on US produced goods.


3 - LOWER HOUSE APPROVES LABOR BILL
Despite massive demonstrations around the country, Mexico’s lower house of Congress approved a labor bill on Saturday that would end worker rights won after the 1910 revolution. The bill replaces mandatory daily wage rates with hourly rates, allows for probationary hiring and outsourcing, limits worker rights in firings or abuse cases, and makes it nearly impossible to form democratic independent unions.  The minimum wage is currently set at US$4.80 per 8-hour day, but would be replaced with hourly rates of 60 cents.  Language to control corrupt PRI-affiliated “company unions” was removed before final approval. PRD lawmakers tried to disrupt the final vote by occupying the rostrum, but the PRI and PAN, which together hold a substantial majority of seats, managed to hold the final vote at 4:00am. The bill was ratified by 346-60 and now moves on to certain approval in the Senate. Initiated by lame duck President Felipe Calderon under newly approved fast-track legislative rules, the bill is supported by President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.