Last Thurs., Feb. 21, a crowd of chanting Seattle University students gathered outside the Shaffer Auditorium of their campus library, protesting the visit of the Trade Commission of Mexico's Sergio Rios. As the Northwest's Mexican trade commissioner, Rios' involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement sparked the protest.
NAFTA, enacted in 1994 and consisting of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, remains the world's largest trading bloc. It lifted pre-existing tariffs on dozens of industries, among them the textile, automotive, and agricultural sectors. The agreement, though lauded throughout corporate North America, has faced fierce criticism in all three countries for its corrosive effect on, among other things, blue-collar manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and farming in Mexico.
Mr. Rios, who advises American and Canadian investors on Mexican trade projects, faced a protest outside and a hostile audience inside.
"I'm here to protest [Rios'] visit because his job is to tell corporations how to use NAFTA for their own interests,"said Aldo Resendiz, who helped organize the protest. Resendiz's family emigrated to the U.S. five years ago from the Mexican state of San Luis Potos