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Spurred on by politically conservative movements in the U.S. and Great Britain, the World Bank led the charge to privatize other functions of Mexican government. It persuaded Mexico to get rid of the special credit subsidies under which certain projects were aided through cheap state loans to the country’s low-income sector. Under the scheme, the state stopped lending and credit was provided at market rates by the commercial banks. As a result, total credit was restricted and priority given to producers with export potential. Certain sectors are eligible for nointerest loans, but the amount of credit is sharply circumscribed. Overall the new loan program has hurt micro-, smalland medium-size businesses. The bank also tried to change the agriculture system, reducing the amounts of cheap loans and ending financial support for farmers to buy fertilizers, seeds, fuel, and other inputs. Yields declined and agricultural conditions worsened. Today, the Mexican undersecretary of agriculture predicts over 13 million small farmers and farm workers will be forced to abandon the countryside in the next decade, adding yet more pressure on the urban employment market. Mexico, the new democratic hope, is a mess. Over the last decade the gap between rich and poor has steadily grown. The richest 20 percent of the population received 54.2 percent of national income in 1992, up from 48.4 percent in 1984. The income of the poorest 20 percent fell from 5 percent in 1984 to 4.3 percent of national income in 1992. A 1991 Labor Congress study showed that out of a working population of 34 million, 15 percent were unemployed and over 40 percentsome 14 million peoplewere underemployed. Neither has NAFTA done anything to help Mexico’s fortunes. The much trumpeted 100,000 new jobs that the treaty was meant to deliver have yet to materialize, and according to Nafta’s First Year, a report by a group of NAFTA opponents, only 535 jobs have been-created by the pact, and 12,000 U.S. jobs have been lost. And income disparities have widened. According to University of California economist Harley Shaiken, Mexican manufacturing productivity at the end of May 1994 was 64 percent higher than in 1980, while real wages for hourly workers in manufacturing were 31 percent lower. The so-called side agreements meant to protect the rights of labor and the environment have not yet been put into play. Immigration hasn’t slowed, but NAFTA has fueled the nativist sentiments of Proposition 187. While Mexico is most often pictured as a growing and robust market for American goods and services, its future looks much darker. Like Canada, it offers the United States a resource bin for the next century in the form of a vast reservoir of oil and gas. Those petroleum supplies can be carried by pipeline into the U.S. As American environmental regulations tighten, the U.S. can shift production of toxic petrochemicals into more remote areas such as Mexico. Where once Mexican laborers swarmed up into California and across the Southwest to harvest crops at low wages, now those same crops can be grown ‘ by American transnational corporations inside Mexico, thereby freeing up farmlands in California for more urban development. With its cheap labor Mexico can grow as an assembly platform for the U.S. In this new world, NAFTA becomes not the salvation of world trade but the pretext for a new virulent strain of economic imperialism. Continued from pg. 24 State Bar of Texas refused to promote three bills recommended by the Bar’s Women and the Law section, the Texas Lawyer reported. Nancye Bethurum of Dallas is president of the new group and Kathryn Tullos of Austin is vice president. The new group will push bills to allow alimony in a divorce, prohibit discrimination in private clubs and set out civil commitment procedures for “sexually violent predators” who are released from prison. DETAILS. As the cost of newsprint paper rises, Austin American-Statesman editors are getting choosier about how much space they devote to political coverage, and political junkies will have to pay more to find out the rest of the story. The paper recently introduced Inside Texas Politics, a newsletter edited by political columnist Dave McNeely. The newsletter will be faxed at least three times a week during the legislative session, at $250 for locals and $500 for long-distance subscribers who want the “insider” details that don’t make it into the page of Capitol coverage the Statesman is publishing each day during the session. “There are just so many things that the editors think are too much ‘inside baseball’ stuff,” McNeely said, but since the reporters already were gathering those details the newspaper management was interested in selling it to the relative handful of political junkies who would pay for it. McNeely said the Slatesman will not be holding back major stories for the newsletter and the Statesman reportedly is investigating other secondary merchandising of information. BUYING MEMORIES. A crowd of 30 or so was already waiting when former Gov. Ann Richards arrived in an old white pickup truck at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, to clear out her old campaign headquarters in Austin. The former governor told the crowd that she has spent the last few weeks “on the move” and “peeling down” her belongings. When the doors opened promptly at 10, after Richards had left, the crowd surged inside looking for bargains for office equipment as well as the popular “commemoratives,” books, pins, postcards, t-shirts, signs, bumper stickers and other remains of the Richards phenomenon. Prices ranged from $12 for an Ann Richards t-shirt, to as low as 25 cents for certain pins and postcards. Claire Jones, 28, said she showed up because she likes office supplies. “If Ann wants to get rid of her file cabinets and office supplies, I want to be here.” Few were inclined to be reflective. Outside, though, Albert Cortez, 35, had heard about the garage sale on the radio in Dallas, and had come down for the weekend. Cortez, who was holding two bright purple stadium seats celebrating Ann’s 60th birthday, and a couple of inaugural pins, said he felt a bit sad about this ending, but to him she would always be the Governor. “It’s amazing how she attracts people, it’s like a magnet. I don’t think George Bush will ever have that kind of charisma. People will just say `There’s Governor Bush’ and go on.” PAYING RESPECTS. Jesse Jackson sat next to Lloyd Bentsen at a memorial service for John C. White that drew politicians from across the political spectrum to the Texas Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 27. White, who died Jan. 20 at age 70, was a former Texas agriculture commissioner, deputy U.S. secretary of agriculture, Democratic national chairman and later a Washington lobbyist. White became a hero to Texas liberals in 1952 when, as first-term ag commissioner, he was the only statewide officeholder who remained loyal to the national Democratic ticket; when he lost a 1957 special election for the U.S. Senate to Ralph Yarborough, White interpreted the returns as a mandate to continue as ag commissioner. He campaigned for Lyndon Johnson and later for the Kennedy-Johnson ticket in 1960, stuck with Johnson when other Texas Democrats distanced themselves from his civil rights and Great Society initiatives in the 1960s and he joined Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong as the only statewide Democratic officeholders to actively support George McGovern’s presidential bid in 1972. In 1976, after Lloyd Bentsen’s presidential bid collapsed, he helped carry Texas for Carter. In 1988 White advised Jackson’s presidential campaign. As Bentsen put it, “He was a big-D Democrat who lived his life on the principle of little-D democracy.” THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13