PPP Plan Puebla Panama or Private Plans for Profit

| October 14, 2002 Issue

A fter announcing his plans to "develop" regions of Mexico and Central America after his election in 2000, Mexican President Vicente Fox continues to draw heat from environmental and human rights advocates for his proposed Plan Puebla Panama (PPP). As Miguel Pickard explains in CorpWatch.org, PPP would "turn southern Mexico and all of Central America into a massive free-trade zone, competing in the world-wide race to the bottom of wages, working conditions, lax environmental regulation, and disregard for human rights."

Stretching from Mexico through seven Central American republics all the way to Panama, PPP is actually more of an umbrella term for a number of development plans Fox and others have in mind. Though the region has been plagued by social conflict and poor infrastructure, it is also rich in resources, including water reserves, oil, minerals, timber, and biodiversity. PPP calls for massive investments and infrastructure projects - a highway running the length of the corridor, dam construction, improved tourist facilities, and electrical grids to supply electricity to the U.S. market.

While these efforts hope to attract corporate investment to the region, they may also displace much of the area's population. And who pays? While some U.S. government and private investment will aid the plan, most of the $10 billion will come from increasing taxes for people of the region. Additionally, PPP will use loans from the Inter-American Development Bank, adding to the staggering debt burdens many of these countries already face.
--Erica Sagrans
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