GOOD FOR THE RULING CLASS, BAD FOR EVERYONE ELSE: Mexican farmer’s daughter: NAFTA destroyed us. [archive]

As cheap American corn came pouring in from the border, it had a devastating effect on her family. Her father, Benancio Mendoza, couldn’t compete and make a living wage selling corn. He had to give up and move to the United States looking for a job. He took up a job as a cook in Tennessee, saving up money to send home so his kids could attend school.

“He went north looking for a job and I didn’t see him again for 18 years,” says Mendoza, who now works as a secretary for the local government.

While NAFTA did boost Mexico’s manufacturing industry, it gutted many farming towns — especially mom and pop corn farmers like Benancio’s.

Mexico lost over 900,000 farming jobs in the first decade of NAFTA, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Mendoza says her small town of Santa Ana Zegache is now inhabited mostly by women and the elderly because working-age men went to the United States looking for jobs — the vast majority crossing over illegally.

NAFTA opened the Mexican market to U.S. corn producers who were subsidized by the U.S. government.