[Excerpt] This chapter argues that although economic integration between the United States and Mexico had been taking place for some time, it was the formal recognition of this process as represented by the discussions surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement that facilitated transnational political action by non-state actors. Whereas the globalization of the economy and the prevalence of neoliberal economic policies may be considered by some to undermine popular sector organization and actions, formal recognition of regional economic integration in North America has produced a ‘transnational political’ arena that has expanded the resources available to non-governmental groups, increased their leverage in domestic political arenas, and broadened their strategic options.
This chapter will examine the dimensions of this transnational political arena. What are its characteristics? How is it likely to evolve overtime? How is this arena similar to or different from other ‘internationalized’ phenomena that a number of analysts have begun to observe and describe? How might different kinds of actors take advantage of this new environment? In particular, how does the existence of a transnational political arena affect popular organizations and social movements (including labor movements) whose activities have traditionally taken place within national borders? Will a Mexico more tightly connected to the US market offer increased opportunities for the mobilization of Mexican social movements, or will it strengthen the barriers against popular organization and activism?
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