The US-Mexico border is quite unusual in that the Rio Grand River is a natural border for 1200 miles between the two countries. The two countries also share the resources of the river which in the past and to the present day poses real challenges to how the resources are shared equitably .The river also high lights modern day issues of globalization between a rich country and poor one. Despite being close neighbours in many respects they are worlds apart living side by side.
Poor Mexicans can see the riches available in the US but getting to the land of opportunity many barriers have been created by the US to keep out many Mexicans. The Mexican border high lights the tensions between the two countries as reflected in the water issue.
The US-Mexico border is heavily protected with walls, electric fences, patrolled by helicopters, mobile vehicles, and high levels of security monitored 24 hours of day to keep out unwanted illegal migrants.
Despite the heavy security some 2 million migrants try to get into the US each year, most are turned back. Despite this heavy border controls there is also much trade in goods, services, capital and people flows between the US-Mexico borders. These legal monitored flows reflect the increasing connectedness between the two countries in the economic links which have been fostered and enhanced by the signing of the Nafta accord.
The Nafta accord has meant that US and transnational corporations have located plants at the border of the US-Mexican border to take advantage of the cheap Mexican labour force. So the proximity of the working relationship where Mexicans work in modern high tech mostly manufacturing plants but also distance. So the boss of South Korean firm LG and others living in the US travel across the border to his plant to supervise and over see the daily workings of the plant. Similarly the Mexican workers of these plants are shipped in daily on company buses from shanty towns to work in these plants for about $4 dollars which is far less than the the US £40 per day. Mexican workers work in a modern hi tech firm and go home at night to their shanty town dwellings where there are few amenities.
The border maquiladoras of global firms have managed to secure a piece of Mexican territory and made it independent from Mexican governance, no independent unions allowed other than the Mexican government union which negotiates directly with the corporations. The corporations can determine work, hours, conditions, hire and fire any one without compensation .If a female work becomes pregnant; there are no company, health schemes or pension provisions.
The US government manages daily from the US-Mexican border the flow of goods, services and people. These flows of goods, services and people are linked to global markets, in a global supply chain .Mexican workers although close to the US are fear full of losing jobs to lower cost countries like China, despite China being many thousands of miles away, this highlights the issue of proximity and distance, globalization has made the two concepts much closer together for comfort for the low paid Mexican workers and they know it. We have thanks to globalization a global work force where trans nationals look for the cheapest labour costs, distance no object for these highly mobile corporations
With the issue of migration flows from Mexico is the issue of Mexicans already living in the US some 27million (dd205 videos 1-10).the largest Mexican population living outside the US is in Los Angeles, where are settled in certain areas of the city which they have colonized and made in to a little Mexico, they continue to use their own language, maintain their own culture have their own TV stations and newspapers.
Many Mexicans living in the US still regard themselves as Mexicans, there is constant flow of Mexicans across the border, despite the distances Mexicans do not feel lost in US culture, and the proximity of their culture enables them to remain in touch with their roots. The Mexicanization of some cities with large Mexican populations worries some Americans who fear it as a threat to their culture. Some of them have set themselves as vigilante patrols to stop illegal Mexican migrants from entering their country. It is inevitable in this world of cultural flows, of flows of goods and services in a globalized world, the US being a rich country it is going to attract such migrant flows, and the proximity of the Mexican border is worrying for some Americans while for Mexicans this border has become a vast distance which they find difficult to overcome.
This unequal Nafta trade signed by Mexican president Salinas high lights the unequal economic relationship between the two countries. Applying the same principle to the water issue, the Rio Grand River is owned by both countries yet access to its resources is unequal and contentious. The issue of how and how much water is used by both sides, because the political and economic situation of both states differs they have come to different conclusions which has created tensions between the two countries. By proximity the two countries might be inter-connected but they see things very different.
The flow of the river and its natural flows have been altered by the United States, by diverting the water flow parts of the river have now become dry. The US has the legal right to control their water within its territory, but by diverting the water its flows into Mexico side of the river have been affected, now there is the issue can one country stop the natural flow of the water of river flows into another state, which can be detrimental to that state i.e. Mexico. As the usage of water increased their is added pressure on both sides to secure more water resources.
The original water treaty signed to apportion the water resource though still in force, the water usage has gone up but the supply has not kept up with demand. On the US side agri- business such as cane sugar plantations and citrus fruit growers who are linked in to world markets want more water from the Mexican side. The Mexican side have seen their population go up and need more water. Interesting point to note is the water usage on both sides demonstrates the unequal relation on the US side water usage is 190 gallons per household while on the Mexican side it is 70 gallon per family and is shipped in tankers by the Mexican government. The proximity of the rivers resources and the distance of global markets are driving the US to access more of the water territory of Mexico.
At no time have the US looked at their prolifigate use of water resources, irrigation for agri- business.
It believes rightly or wrongly that it is entitled to standard living which has created water shortages. The Mexicans seem to be suffering the most. They are increasingly denied water resources and opportunities to raise their living standards, the unequal distribution of water resources is maintaining equilibrium of wealth for the US side and poverty on the Mexican side despite the proximity of the two populations, not much wealth is being transferred to the Mexican sides, despite the location of trans- national corporations.
the Chamizal park with golf courses soak up huge amount of water, on the Mexican side water is used for immediate need either local consumption or local agriculture. Because of the dominant position f the US monopoly on the water use, its control of flows and territory, of goods, services capital and people flows, the US behaves like a colonial power next to its immediate neighbour. At no time has the US ever considered serious water conservation and water management of households and business.
The water issue highlights wider issues of gloabization, of flows of goods, capital, services and people across the border, the US controls most of these flows being the dominant economy. Proximity of the borders has created opportunities for American and transnational corporations to take advantage of the cheap labour, but it have also created distance for so many Mexicans, for them the US is a dream. The water issue demonstrates the unequal relation of who has access to most of the water resource and how it is used. In this unequal situation Mexico is the loser, economically and politically.