By Jim Carey
Occupy SMA presents Crude Harvest, an Al Jazeera documentary on the selling of Mexico’s oil by filmmakers Paul Sapin and Verity Oswin. With multinationals poised to come, Mexican farmers stand to lose their livelihoods and land because the new reforms allow companies to drill and occupy areas wherever there is oil. In Crude Harvest we meet the victims of oil drilling and free trade and examine what could happen when foreign investors move in.
Mon, Apr 6,1pm
Quinta Loreto Hotel
Against the backdrop of Mexico’s ever-widening gap between rich and poor, growing violence, Ayotzinapa, and the stalled economy, President Enrique Peña Nieto has passed a series of economic reforms. Under these reforms, Mexico’s oil, which was expropriated from foreign interests 75 years ago, is now for sale to private international companies. The reforms are the most divisive the country has seen in a century. Thousands have protested against them, saying the new regulations could bring the nation to a tipping point, as organized crime and violence would spiral out of control.
When it comes to big business and drilling for oil, Mexico’s farmers are the most vulnerable.
Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) opened Mexico up to trade with the US and Canada, led to the collapse of agriculture, and paved the way for the privatization of oil. The operations of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, PEMEX, have never been entirely transparent, and communities have been crippled by oil disasters. For instance, in October 2013, the state of Tabasco experienced its worst oil disaster when a drill site exploded and burned for 55 days, contaminating the surrounding land and water. Villagers closest to the site say they are suffering from health problems and have lost their livestock. They say PEMEX has never accepted responsibility for the accident, nor has it offered any compensation.
The Mexico Daily News Review reported on January 23, 2015, that “an investigation by Reuters found that 100 contracts signed between 2003 and 2012 by PEMEX at a cost of US$11,700 million dollars have irregularities, according to documents found in the Auditoría Superior de la Federación (ASF). The irregularities include fraud, higher than usual prices, and badly done workmanship. Reviewing the documents between 2008 and 2012, the auditors issued 274 recommendations for PEMEX to get its money back. Only a few of those were followed through.
PEMEX almost always ignores the recommendations. Mexican human rights lawyer Efrain Rodríguez León says, “If PEMEX committed all of these injustices, we can’t imagine what abuses our indigenous brothers will suffer at the hands of these private companies.” Occupy SMA invites you to view Crude Harvest (46 minutes) and join in the discussion. Our events are free.