Interesting article in the New York Times today about the HIV risk faced by Mexican migrant workers. What this article forgets to mention, however, is that many of the men who come to the U.S. seasonally from rural Mexico do so because their own corn or livestock farms have become unprofitable since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was passed in the Clinton years and created a free-trade zone between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Today Mexico gets most of its corn and pork, for example, from cheaper factory-farm and government-subsidized sources in the United States, leading to the decline of agriculture and related work possibilities in rural Mexico and therefore (in an ironic twist for the often anti-immigrant conservatives who support NAFTA) an increase in seasonal migrant labor.
HIV risk is furthered in younger couples by a more modern companionate marriage ideal in rural Mexico, in which marriage is about fidelity and companionship and not necessarily a contract of male superiority. In the context of a supposedly monogamous, loving relationship, condom negotiation is not simply a matter of machista refusal to use protection or lack of empowerment in rural Mexican women (as the article might have you believe), but rather it means acknowledging the possibility of infidelity, something both men and women are reluctant to do. A very interesting and complex situation that shows us the real, on-the-ground consequences of the free-trade policies the United States continues to champion.
Stories like these reinforce the links between immigration and reproductive justice. For more information on these connections, check out our fact sheet.
Contributed by Veronica Bayetti