The North American Free Trade Agreement—or NAFTA, as we Americans call it—is very much in the news of late, primarily because President Trump has decided to make good on what he famously called “the single worst trade deal” that the United States has ever approved. Trump’s assessment, like so many of his statements, isn’t quite the fact he’d like it to be. In study after study, economists have found that NAFTA’s impact on the U.S. economy ranges from relatively insignificant to mildly beneficial. So as the media follows the negotiations and the talking-heads talk, we once again find ourselves in the welter of not knowing what to believe. What we need—what it seems we always need of late—is someone we can trust to clarify the situation, someone who basis their analysis on facts, on research, on evidence, someone who cares not only about the truth of the matter, but who also has a moral compass we can admire.
Today I interview Alyshia Gálvez
, author of the new book Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, and the Destruction of Mexico
(University of California Press, 2018). She is this person. She approaches NAFTA with a wide and precise lens, examining not only the economics of the agreement, but also its impact on public health, social welfare, agricultural practices, migration patterns, government policy and so many other considerations that get overlooked when the focus gets narrowed to economics. She looks across the border and at the border itself, so we can understand how the lives of the Mexican people have changed in the twenty years since NAFTA began. Gálvez shows us that NAFTA is indeed a terrible deal, but in all of the ways that Trump doesn’t and seemingly can’t. She offers us an analysis guided by rigor, insight, thoroughness, and, above all, compassion for the lives of very people that NAFTA has destroyed.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently
In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.