NAFTA inflicted searing pain on millions of people, families, communities, and municipalities in the heartland -- nowhere more than Indiana. Nearly 25 years after it went into effect, Millions of Hoosiers have a personal story of how NAFTA led to pervasive poverty, addiction, depression, and suicide, because the same story unfolded all over. NAFTA incited a surge of plant closures, which dried up small town tax and consumer bases, leading to further job loss. The cascade continued with everything from a swell of car repossessions and home foreclosures to the breakup of families strained beyond their endurance.
Likewise, millions of Mexican-born immigrants have a personal story of how NAFTA turned them into economic refugees, searching an all-too-often hostile land for wages to send back as remittances to their families. That story is equally prevalent: NAFTA sent government-subsidized American crops flooding south of the border at sub-market rates, which destroyed a million agricultural jobs in Mexico, sending workers north on a hunt for the dignity and freedom not afforded by economic conditions at home. In immigrant as well as US-born Indiana communities, NAFTA stories are inescapable, palpable.
If we can create a forum for people to tell these stories, where they might reach the ears and the hearts of other people with their own NAFTA stories, we can create the opposite conditions: immigrant and US-born working class communities can see one another not as adversaries, but as teammates. From this common ground, they will be better equipped to take on a common adversary: the commodity speculators and industrial and pharmaceutical barons who got rich off of NAFTA, off of their forced displacement, off of their joblessness and addiction, off of their pain.
Started in Spring of 2017, Hoosier Action is a member-owned and -led organization devoted to building the power of Indiana’s everyday families to fight for a small town agenda based on our collective self-interests. In rural Southern Indiana, where the fastest growing population is Latinx, we are uniquely positioned to invite white Hoosiers into new formations and a new vision for our state and country.