Table of Contents
Like blocks being stacked together to create a structure, the following sections depict and support a case study from the country of Mexico. The lowermost blocks will create a foundation that illustrates and portrays a global trend that is experienced either throughout the world or has a common reoccurrence in selected regions. The body of the structure will represent how my chosen profession has impacted this trend in both positive and negative ways, as well as how the trend exerts an influence upon the entirety of my profession. The assembly of pieces will culminate in a case study tying the individual portions into one coherent structure.
The global and regional trend that will be explored within the framework of this paper is rural to urban migration. Within this exploration certain repercussions of this trend will be uncovered, including its effects on rural centers, urban centers, industry, and individual citizens. The third section will describe how my chosen profession in the construction field has impacted rural to urban migration and how, in turn, how rural to urban migration has affected the construction industry on a global scale.
Finally, everything will be tied together through the examination of a particular case study and events from my selected country of study, Mexico. It is through this case study that the research of the first two sections manifests a real life quality and character, which makes it easier to understand and actively apply. The case will illustrate, on a small regional scale, the direct roles shared between the global trend of rural to urban migration and the construction industry, and how one may hold keys to the alleviation of the other's ailments.
The goal of this paper is multi-faceted. A primary goal is to expand beyond the general stereotypes previously attached to the construction industry and to broaden its applications, thus placing it in the ranks as a viable means for the resolution of serious global and regional issues. A second primary goal of the paper is to expose an issue that previously may have been unknown to some and demonstrate the manner in which everyone in the global environment has been affected by its existence. I believe that through the steps and topics presented within this paper it becomes readily apparent that no one goes untouched by the events occurring throughout the world today. It follows also that the chosen profession of each of us can play a potentially significant role in alleviating the negative effects brought about by those global and regional trends, as long as we allow ourselves to become aware of the connections amongst them.
Many people are aware of the strain placed on developing countries by their continuously expanding populations. However, many are unacquainted with the notion that these population strains are most commonly the result of internal migration, most specifically, rural to urban migration. These rural migrants account for vast majority of recorded migration into the cities of developing countries. Rural to urban migration can be classified, very generally, as the relocation of individuals from rural residency to urban residency. The move can be done either willingly or unwillingly and may also be either temporary or permanent, including refugees and undocumented migrants alike. This trend has exerted measurable repercussions on everyone and everything in its path - individual migrants themselves, their families, rural areas and their residents, urban areas and their residents, industries, governments, and, effectively, the entire global community.
The inclination for rapid growth in urban centers is the direct result of two features - natural population increases and rural to urban migration; of these two factors, rural to urban migration has been the more significant (Urbanization and Global Change, 3). Despite the fact that cities in developed nations typically have larger urban populations, their level of growth is far less than that of developing countries (Urbanization and Global Change, 1). This places the tendency of rapid urban population growth to be centered in the cities of developing countries. Research has also unveiled a general pattern in the individuals themselves who tend to participate in rural to urban migration. Young males, most commonly between the ages of sixteen and thirty-nine, who are economically active are categorized as the most likely to make the transition from rural to urban (Doran, 1). There is also an evident link between education and migrant tendency. A study performed in Colombia discovered that individuals who received a higher education of some form were four times more likely to migrate to an urban area than those who lacked such an education (Wahba, 7).
Several immediate forces and conditions are responsible for allowing this trend to proliferate to its current condition. Most commonly, when discussing rural to urban migration that has not been divided in accordance with voluntary and involuntary migration, such forces are categorized as push, pull, or trigger factors (Doran, 1). Push factors are typically found in the migrant's place of origin (in this instance, rural) and are viewed by the migrant as having some sort of negative impact upon their overall welfare (Urbanization and Global Change, 3). Pull factors are those found within the intended destination of migration (in this case, urban centers) that draws the individual to relocate there (Urbanization and Global Change, 3). Trigger factors are those tending to be beyond the control of any one individual; examples include drought, war, natural disasters, or economic recession (Doran, 1).
The most prevalent push factors leading individuals to migrate include political instability, high levels of unemployment, the need for improved access to services, and widespread poverty (Doran, 1). Rising conflicts over land and natural resources has also risen to the forefront of migratory push factors ("Farmers, Governors Discuss Dire Rural Problems", 1) as the swelling of urban centers has become a direct cause of land use changes placing land on the list of increasingly scarce items (Macauley Institute, 1). Such land use changes have left rural residents unable to manage small family farms as profitable commodities and, instead, has forced them to seek employment in the urban environment (Macauley Institute, 1).
Pull factors surfacing as common triggers for internal migration include the hope of finding better services, improved job opportunities, and increased wages in the urban setting (Doran, 1). Another key pull factor includes the "bright lights factor", or the perception of urban living as offering an increased value in recreation, lifestyle (Wahba, 4), and paid-for goods (Macauley Institute, 2).
Trigger factors, those occurrences that remain beyond the scope of individual control, include a vast array of incidences including, but by no means limited to, war, drought, famine, economic downturn, political unrest, unemployment, poor climate, and natural disasters (Doran, 1). Another trigger factor, which commonly resurfaces within the discussion of internal migration out of rural areas, is the tendency of governments to maintain artificially low food prices in an effort to decrease the expense of urban living (Urbanization and Global Change, 4). This has resulted in insufficient reimbursement to farmers, thus leaving them unable to make ends meet and, eventually, forcing them to abandon their farms (Urbanization and Global Change, 4). Governments have also done well, in an effort to boost their productivity and competitiveness in foreign markets, to eradicate small family farms and, instead, replace them with large enterprise farms yielding lower per-unit production costs (Urbanization and Global Change, 4). By placing all of these push, pull, and trigger factors together it becomes easy to see how one could, effectively, be forced into migrating from a rural community to an urban center. For example, a farmer who can no longer shoulder the financial burden of his family farm, due to government maintained low food prices, chooses to migrate with his family to an urban center in the hopes of finding work capable of supporting both he and his family. The push factor: low wages from his farm. The pull factor: prospect of better wages and employment in a city. The trigger factor: artificially maintained low food prices.
Words alone cannot describe the widespread magnitude presented by the continually increasing practice of rural to urban migration. The vastness of the problem itself is overwhelming. According to one study, in 1950 less than thirty percent of the world population resided in cities; this number saw an increase to forty-seven percent, or 2.8 billion people, by 2000; it is predicted that by 2025 the percentage will grow to sixty (Urbanization and Global Change, 1). One of the most recent
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estimates from the United Nations Population Fund estimated in 1998 that in excess of one hundred million people were living outside of their countries of birth or citizenship (Urbanization and Global Change, 2). Recent figures have shown that rural to urban migrants are accountable for anywhere from thirty-five to sixty percent of all recorded urban population growth (Wahba, 3).
Megacities are categorized as those containing more than five million inhabitants (Urbanization and Global Change, 2). In 2000 there were forty-one recorded megacities, with the number predicted to rise to more than fifty by 2015 with approximately twenty-three of these containing more than ten million people (Urbanization and Global Change, 2). The table below displays the populations for the world's fifteen largest cities, according to 1995 figures (Urbanization and Global Change, 3).
The World's 15 Largest Cities, 1995CityPopulation (millions)Tokyo, Japan26.8Sao Paulo, Brazil16.4New York, USA16.3Mexico City, Mexico15.6Bombay, India15.1Shanghai, China15.1Los Angeles, USA12.4Beijing, China12.4Calcutta, India11.7Seoul, South Korea11.6Jakarta, Indonesia11.5Buenos Aires, Argentina11.0Tiajin, China10.7Osaka, Japan10.6Lagos, Nigeria10.3
The sheer volume of people residing in these urban spaces places extreme tension on a city's ability to provide the necessary services to all of its inhabitants, especially since those who migrate into these urban areas typically posses relatively fewer resources than those already established in such areas (Tarmann, 1). This strain becomes apparent through examining the growth of shantytowns and slums. In many developing countries, slum settlements may account for more than thirty percent of the urban population and, in some cases, may constitute up to sixty percent of the urban entirety (Wahba, 7).
It is interesting to examine this trend from the perspective of who supports it and who opposes it because it is often the same groups doing both. Whether they actively support or oppose the trend is determined solely by their actions at any one particular time, as internal migration is not cut and dry as are many other issues. There are three general supporters of the internal migration trend. The first, governments, support the trend by making little or no effort to bring services and aid to these areas in order to alleviate the poverty and need prevalent in these areas. They also have shown support for the trend by maintaining artificially low food prices in urban areas and aiding in the eradication of small-scale farming and farm subsidies (Urbanization and Global Change, 4). Secondly, industries and individual companies have shown support for the trend by moving into the urban areas within developing countries looking to find cheap and abundant sources of human labor. Third, the individual migrants themselves have supported this trend by continuing to abandon their previous lifestyles in favor of urban living. Individual citizens in rural and urban areas alike have shown support through the employment of poor land use practices, thereby encroaching onto other people's land, straining resources, and, thus, forcing others into migration.
As previously mentioned, it is the same people opposing the trend as supporting it. The supporters of this trend can easily become opposition forces simply by reversing their tactics. The first institutions, governments, show their opposition by making an active effort to bring aid and services to impoverished rural areas. They also display their opposition to the trend by implementing more efficient and effective urban planning, as well as creating quality infrastructure and transportation resources that connect rural and urban areas. There also must be a focus on the maximization of existing space as opposed to continued outward expansion - build up, not out. Secondly, industries and individual companies have shown their opposition to internal migration by opening up factories and company locations in rural areas rather than urban centers, and by investing in infrastructure projects that connect rural and urban areas. Third are the individual citizens themselves who make the commitment not to migrate, accept jobs as close to home as possible, and practice efficient and sustainable land use in both rural and urban areas.
The global trend of rural to urban migration has had a significant impact on several areas. Rural areas have been hard hit by this trend in several ways. First off, since the majority of migrants are males, the tasks previously done by such men in rural areas are not left to the women and older men to complete (Doran, 1). Local birth rates typically decline due to the absence of young males (Doran, 1). Family and local ties are weakened as family members migrate to urban centers in search of a better life for themselves and their relatives (Doran, 1). The cultural strength of these rural areas is depleted more and more with the loss of each societal member (McNeill, 411-412). However, rural to urban migration has manifested itself as an important source of income for many rural communities as migrants typically send money back home to their families who continue to reside in rural areas (Doran, 1).
Urban areas have also felt the impact of the booming growth of rural immigrants. The resources of a city - energy, health care, transportation, sanitation, physical security, running water, food supplies, trash pickup, electricity, paved roads, housing, and schools - have been stretched beyond their elasticity in the effort to absorb the hundreds of thousands of internal migrants arriving annually (Tarmann, 1). The large number of migrants has also created a surplus labor pool, resulting in increased unemployment levels within these urban centers (Urbanization and Global Change, 7). Another severe repercussion of the internal migration trend is prolific urban sprawl, which is accompanied by increased traffic congestion, depletion of local resources, destruction of open space, high pollution levels, and environmental degradation (Urbanization and Global Change, 7). The increased growth of shantytowns and slums on the outskirts of urban areas has also become a problem (Urbanization and Global Change, 7) as land for city housing is nearing exhausting in many areas ("Land for City Housing Almost Exhausted", 1). Many people resort to building makeshift homes on the outskirts of urban areas, often near ravines or other volatile and unstable areas where the land has either not been properly surveyed or building is prohibited altogether (Tarmann, 2-3).
Industries and individual companies have also been affected by the trend of rural to urban migration in several ways. The concentration of suppliers and consumers found in urban centers allows companies to record a savings in both communication and transportation costs (Wahba, 7). Companies also benefit, in an abusive sort of fashion, from the creation of large surplus labor pools (Urbanization and Global Change, 7). These labor pools keep wages low, undermining union efforts to attain better wages, while allowing companies to produce goods at decreased costs (Urbanization and Global Change, 7).
Individual migrants themselves also feel the effects of both their own migrations as well as the migrations of others. Migrants often experience a loss of cultural, religious, or moral identity, along with a weakening of family ties (McNeill, 387-388, 411-412). These individuals also face the uncertainty of ever even receiving a better job or gaining access to better services (Wahba, 6). Should migrants be unfortunate enough not to find what they were searching for in a particular city, they are then faced with the decision of whether to return home, migrate to another city within their country, or migrate to another country altogether (Wahba, 6).
After examining the global issue of rural to urban migration, it becomes easy to see the patterns that emerge from its mere existence and the institutions with which it is in constant contact. The outer periphery is continually losing its most valuable resources to the urban core and, should the migrant continue to feel unsatisfied within the urban core, the urban core becomes the periphery that loses yet another resource to the core of a foreign country. The stronger the core, the more resources it will drain from the weaker peripheries - the rural community's loss is the urban center's gain, while the urban center's loss becomes the foreign country's gain.
Alleviation of the rural to urban migration problem cannot focus solely on only one area at a time, instead it must take an all-encompassing approach with all parties involved - government, industry, and citizens alike - actively participating in the search for a common solution to the problem. It is obvious that if this trend is allowed to continue unchecked the situation will result in irreversible pollution damage, environmental destruction, population surges, and an even greater inability of developing countries to care for their citizens, both rural and urban alike.
The growing trend of rural to urban migration has impacted the construction field in several ways, both obvious and inferable. In simplicity, rural development can be encouraged and manifested through infrastructure inputs. Though the discussion throughout this section applies to the construction industry as a whole, it will pay explicit attention to the construction sector focusing on infrastructure. Infrastructure itself is a narrow sector of the construction industry addressing generally large scale, publicly used facilities and may also be referred to as heavy civil construction. Typical infrastructure projects include roads, bridges, railways, canals, ports, and dams.
Rural to urban migration and the construction industry have affected one another in several ways - one has not played a more aggressive role in shaping the other. Such effects explored in this section include changes in core philosophy and knowledge, the alteration of relationships with other industries, industry prestige will undoubtedly change, as will training, employment, conduct, and morale throughout the construction industry and, particularly, in sectors that deal heavily in infrastructure.
Rural to urban migration has had a lasting impact upon the construction industry by means of altering to the core philosophies upon which the industry previously had been grounded. Principles in the past that focused on expansionary goals and immediate profit returns have evolved into values that place at the forefront the long-term benefits of everyone involved (Sader, XVI). The focal points of the industry have shifted toward strategic growth through expansion and rehabilitation projects and on long-term benefits, both financial and personal, for investors, economies, employees, and citizens (Sader, 3). The construction industry and its individual component companies no longer tend to concentrate on one particular structure; instead the convergence has shifted to entire project systems consisting of several different structures, both newly built and previously existing, all working simultaneously to achieve desired end results (Pickard, 1-2). Strict attention is also being paid to the environmental impacts, both positive and negative, that are inflicted on the earth and its residents at the hands of the building industry (Adelson, 2).
The shift of the construction industry from that of a dirty, polluting, urban sprawl creating trade to that of trained professionals and technically skilled workers has been, in part, the result of the rural to urban migration trend. Other resultants of rural to urban migration trends on the industry include the acquisition of notable repute regarding the immediate and long-term welfare of the areas in which the construction industry is actively working (Lowton, 49-50).
At the hands of the rural to urban migration trend, relationships with other industries have been both newly forged and strengthened, due to the constant need for simultaneous working relationships and constant communication necessary for projects to meet their intended results. Governments, public and private investors from every industry, local suppliers, the industries who are served by these newly built or rehabilitated structures, and, in the case of infrastructure projects, the local citizens who will utilize these structures all create and maintain relationships with the construction companies and their employees working on specific projects ("Puebla-Panama Plan not Imperialist: Fox", 1).
The presence of and the demands placed upon the construction industry by rural to urban migration trends have led to improved conduct and morale throughout the industry. With particular regard to infrastructure projects, which tend to be lengthy in duration and of large scale, industry conduct has improved significantly in an effort to give construction companies added edge in the race to be awarded crucial projects. Industry morale has evolved and improved in tandem with the progression and enhancement of the building industry's image. Employee morale improves as work levels increase - more projects equal more work, bigger projects equal more money and more training, and stronger inter-industry relationships equal paychecks that arrive on time (Flynn).
Employment and employee training in the construction industry have also felt the presence of rural to urban migration. Large scale infrastructure projects, in particular, require immense amounts of manpower in professional, technical, and laboring positions (Lamparelli). Such projects create and maintain job openings for long periods of time - in some cases even years - and upon their completion infrastructure projects typically require the creation of permanent maintenance positions or the creation of maintenance departments at the local, state, or national level (Bon & Crosthwaite, 32).
More often than not, construction companies will not maintain a laboring and technical staff large enough to handle major infrastructure projects. The common solution to this is for the company to hire temporary workers to fill needed positions or, depending on the location of the intended project, the company will recruit and train locals to fulfill the necessary staffing requirements (Lamparelli). This allows local citizens to acquire technical building skills that increase their personal resources, and the company decreases costs by not having to relocate employees for extended periods of time (Lee & Walters, 18). Upon completion of a project, the newly recruited citizens may receive continued employment with that company, perform maintenance on the completed project, take their newly acquired skills to another construction company, or apply them to another field (Lamparelli).
Construction activity in rural areas may help the local economy as well. It is statistically shown that even as work in the construction field slows, wages continue to increase ("Construction Companies, Main Indicators", 1). This would, most likely, aid in bringing higher wage standards to impoverished and underdeveloped rural communities and eliminate the pull factor of higher wages, thus giving local citizens an incentive to remain in their communities rather than migrate. If the construction company doing work in the area is unionized, the union presence may also aid in bringing higher wages to the area, as well as educate local citizens on the basic elements of labor organization (Carrell & Heavrin, 232).
The construction industry, just like as any other industry, is capable of exerting a negative effect onto the rural to urban migration trend. If development rates are not kept in check and consistently monitored, agricultural and rural areas may be harmed or destroyed (Lawton, 62). This would undoubtedly lead to significant increases in the already high levels of rural to urban migration. Construction companies and the industries with whom they are cooperating must be sure that the projects they are implementing are of the proper type and combination in order to achieve the desired results of increased development and decreased migration rates. If the correct types of projects fail to be implemented, both at the appropriate time and in the proper manner, migration will either remain constant or will increase because the development will become a disturbance rather than a beneficial resource.
The environmental impact of projects and development strategies must be calculated to ensure the prevention of further damage to surrounding areas (Lawton, IX). It must be kept in mind during every stage of development that the goal is to reduce and prevent rural to urban migration, not enhance it. Locals will lash out against projects and the people working on them if they feel that either themselves or their land is under threat ("PRD Rejects Plan Puebla Panama", 1).
There are several elements that allow the construction industry the ability to undertake such development projects in rural areas. Globalization is key in the sense that it has resulted in the sharing of technologies, practices, and techniques of the highest standards (Flynn). Foreign direct investment has also played a major role in the funding of many projects (Sader, 6). Without the help of these investors, many projects would fail to progress beyond the conception phase (Sader, 8). Loans from institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have aided the governments of developing countries in initiating projects that they on their own would be unable to finance (Pickard, 4).
This portion of the paper deals with a case study from Mexico. Through this study, a real life situation involving both rural to urban migration and the construction industry can be analyzed in an effort to validate the assumptions raised throughout previous portions of the paper. This particular case study centers on the Puebla-Panama Plan.
As an addition to Mexico's National Development Plan, in November 2000 Presidential hopeful Vicente Fox was beginning his propositions for the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) (Mader, 1). Within only weeks of his victory, the billion-dollar PPP initiative linking Puebla in the southern region of Mexico with Panama City had been drafted (Swenson, 1). This initiative has become the latest step in the formation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas and the "corporate colonization" of Central America and Southern Mexico (Style, 1). For the leader of the PPP, Fox chose the only southern Mexican appointed to his cabinet, Florencio Salazar (Adelson, 1).
The bold twenty-five year proposal (Braine, 1) embraces elements of universal values, hard work, and discipline ("Puebla-Panama Plan not Imperialist", 1). Involved in a region covering 375,000 square miles with sixty-four million inhabitants, the Puebla-Panama Plan hopes to hasten integration and development (Nafinsa Securities Inc., 1). The vast majority of the initiatives within the plan are actually the existing plans of Mexican states and Central American countries that previously lacked the financing or political backing to develop any further (Swenson, 1).
Land privatization and private control of resources are key elements of the PPP (Call, 2). The Puebla-Panama Plan also aims to retract the control of natural resources such as water, oil, minerals, biodiversity, and timber from the hands of indigenous populations and turn it over instead to the private sector (Pickard, 1-2). In the end, the success of the PPP depends heavily on the willingness of indigenous populations to forfeit their land (Call, 2).
In its overall existence the Puebla-Panama Plan has three broad goals: to improve the capacity for export industries by increasing the transit and industrial infrastructure of the region, to shift the region's economy from agriculture to assembly and manufacturing, and bring the region's vast natural resources under private control (Call, 1). President Fox has also publicly discussed long- and short-term goals for the program: "In line with Inter-American Development Bank recommendations to alleviate poverty, we aim to generate construction activities, install maquiladoras (manufacturing plants), and improve agriculture to provide immediate jobs in the short-term," (Adelson, 2). Over the medium-term Fox aims to promote structural change throughout the region and witness the annual self-renewal that the PPP is designed to implement over the long run (Inter-American Development Bank, 1).
The Puebla-Panama Plan also boasts a wide variety of other ambitious goals it hopes to fulfill during its existence. The PPP, through the creation of industrial corridors funneling the maquiladora model south, hopes to generate increases in commerce and job openings that will lessen current migration rates (Style, 1). The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) describes its objectives for the PPP as taking "advantage of the human and ecological riches of the Mesoamerican region within a framework of sustainable development and respect for its ethnic and cultural diversity" (Mader, 1).
The Puebla-Panama Plan has been accused of promoting "sovereignty or an imperial position on the part of Mexico" by critics ("Puebla-Panama Plan not Imperialist", 1). President Fox has contested these accusations with the assurance "that the fruits of globalization (will be) distributed more equally" and the desire to "generate wealth to combat poverty and create opportunities for education and access to health services, credit and financing for every inhabitant of our countries" (Adelson, 2).
The Puebla-Panama Plan covers nine states in southern Mexico - Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Puebla, Campeche, Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, and Guerrrero - and every country in Central America - Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize - containing a total of sixty-four million people living in poverty (Adelson, 1). The program's facilitators are hopeful that the strategic business alliances forged in the PPP will become active contributors in the development of these areas (Shields 6/24/02, 1).
Commonly referred to as Mesoamerican initiatives (Nafinsa Securities Inc., 1), the eight individual accords making up the Puebla-Panama Plan include sustainable growth, human development, prevention of natural disasters, electricity grid interconnections, integrated highway systems, trade, tourism, and telecommunications (Shields 5/27/02, 1). It is also expected that in a short time from now, Fox will announce a ninth initiative addressing rural development (Shields 6/24/02, 1).
The sustainable development and human development categories work in tandem, focusing on traditionally disadvantaged groups and encouraging their participation in programs addressing sustainable use and environmental management. These two initiatives also strive to strengthen local governments, improve migration tracking, and increase labor training (Inter-American Development Bank, 1).
The natural disaster prevention initiative will attempt to establish markets for insurance as well as increase the awareness of methods that can reduce exposure to the floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides, and other harsh natural hazards of the region (Nafinsa Securities Inc., 2).
The electricity and telecommunications sections of the Puebla-Panama Plan are already underway (Hernandez, 1) and hope, by 2004, to establish a system that is compatible and interconnected system throughout the region, as well as with the United States (IDEX, 1). The hope is to create a more reliable power supply that can handle the full hydroelectric power resources of the region (Pickard, 3).
Through the use of integrated highways or "dry canals" the PPP hopes to drastically reduce the region's land transportation costs by mending and linking highways along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts (Call, 1). This program is of special importance to the Puebla-Panama Plan, as the project's planned superhighways will provide a fast and effective alternative to the overburdened Panama Canal (Pickard, 4).
The trade initiative hopes to eliminate borders to interregional exchange by eradicating non-tariff barriers, emphasizing modern business customs, fostering cooperation, and streamlining trade procedures (The North American Institute, 3). The maquiladoras produced as a result of the Puebla-Panama Plan are also expected to absorb any rural labor displacement resulting from the construction of dams, highways, or bridges, of the clearing of biological corridors called for in the plan (Pickard, 3-4).
The tourism accord hopes to promote tourism projects that will be run by local indigenous populations and link them to already existing ecological and cultural attractions throughout the region (Nafinsa Securities Inc., 2).
As it is currently stated, each of these initiatives will be implemented under the conditions that they represent the interests of all communities involved and actively protect the environment (Inter-American Development Bank, 1). Everyone in the region - governments, businesses, and indigenous communities - will all play an active role in shaping the program ("Puebla-Panama Plan not Imperialist", 1).
The Puebla-Panama Plan's advisory board, which provides technical and other support to the project, is comprised of representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Central American Economic Integration Bank (Mader, 1). The designers of the PPP have created four inter-secretarial teams to monitor the progress of the plan and address any issues that may arise during its implementation: two of the teams analyze technical aspects, one team observes environmental impacts, and the fourth team tackles social issues (Adelson, 2).
Though investment in infrastructure from private sources is likely, the majority of the Puebla-Panama Plan's ten billion dollar price tag will be covered either by direct government payments or loans from institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank (Pickard, 4). These loans will add significantly to the already staggering debts of Latin America that, inevitably, will continue to be saddled onto the taxpayers in the region (Pickard, 4). Investors from Japan have pledged support for a massive energy connection, which is to be based upon hydroelectric sources and fossil fuels (Call, 2). The Mexico Foreign Trade Bank has promised $300 million to the PPP, on the basis that fifty percent of that sum be earmarked for hotel development and the other portion for investment in textile and manufacturing industries (Call, 2). For use in port and highway construction, the Central American Economic Integration Bank has consented to loan El Salvador $135 million (Call, 2).
Several different segments have shown support for the Puebla-Panama Plan. On the flip side, many have also shown strong opposition to the plan. Both sides have ample reasons for their positions. Those in favor of the PPP, for the most part, tend to be so as a result of to the benefits they will reap from the program. Those in opposition tend to be there because of the benefits they stand to lose. However, there are a few notable exceptions in which the benefit of the entire region becomes evident, but they appear much less frequently than do those fueled by personal prosperity.
President Fox and his Puebla-Panama Plan have received the full support and approval of the other governments of Mesoamerica, as well as United States President George W. Bush (Carr, 1). Each of these characters stands to benefit tremendously from the success of this plan. According to Fox: "with the PPP, the Mexican government wants to spark a collective effort in planning and development to confront and, at the same time, take advantage of growing globalization in an effort to create a more vigorous and dynamic region" (Swenson, 1). The Mexican government is also hopeful that the PPP will become a vital player in the promotion of peace throughout the region by placing everyone on a level economic playing field (Adelson, 3-4).
The biological corridors being promoted by the Puebla-Panama Plan, which are taking a radical "no people" approach, are controlled by boards of directs made up of the CEO's from large corporations, many with direst interests in bioprospecting (Pickard, 5). Hundreds of American companies, including CSX Transportation, Union-Pacific, Exxon, Mobil, Dow Chemical, and Union Carbide, stand to profit tremendously from their invitations to invest in the new infrastructure and cheap labor provided by the Puebla-Panama Plan (Pickard, 4).
Highway, road, and railway improvements are slated to bring rural farmers into the development markets, improve tourism, as well as open the markets of Europe and Asia up to the region (Adelson, 3). Farmers are also projected to benefit vastly from the sixty-five million dollar investments into irrigation systems covering 220,000 hectares in southern Mexico (Style, 3).
Fox also believes that the creation of maquiladoras will significantly decrease migration and aid in alleviating the tension on the United States-Mexico border (Call, 1). In 2001, an estimated ninety-two maquiladoras moved into the region and created 37,000 jobs believed to be aiding in the prevention of migration (Style, 2).
Those who oppose the Puebla-Panama Plan do so with valid reason - the imminent threat of loss at the hands of capitalist expansion. The plan has received condemnation from environmentalists, labor leaders, and human rights activists from all over Mexico and Central America (Pickard, 1). Further dispute is sure to come as more and more opponents of corporate globalization hear of the PPP, whose existence is relatively unknown outside of Mexico and Central America (Pickard, 1). The foundation for much of the opposition comes from intuitions that business savvy Mexican President Vicente Fox is inviting American and European capitalist exploitation into the region at the expense of native inhabitants and the natural environment (Hernandez, 2). Activists also cite a lack of communication and deception under the pretext of "eco-friendly" language that seeks only to further a global agenda (Braine, 2).
The projects outlined in the PPP are already facing resistance at the local level throughout the southeast, as indigenous populations refuse to play the role of pawns in global economic competition with Europe and Japan (Style, 2-3). Many people, including some of those asked to invest in the project, are skeptical regarding the prospect of integration and monetary venture within a region known for its political turbulence, questionable government will and ability, and strained national budgets (Swenson, 2).
The devastation of cultures and robbery of lands from indigenous communities is also of vital concern ("PRD Rejects Plan Puebla Panama, 1). This is particularly the case when considering the construction of roads, airports, bridges, biological corridors, massive agricultural plantations, and, in particular, dams all of which are expected to displace hundreds of thousands of residents (Pickard, 5). One such project outlined in the Puebla-Panama Plan has insinuated that farmers forfeit their land as capital in partnerships with large investors with the option of continuing employment as a salaried worker on their former lands (Style, 2). Such farmers have been offered a mere $0.15 per square meter of land and $0.30 per square meter of arable land ("PRD Rejects Plan Puebla Panama", 1). Indigenous populations have the opportunity to become exploited laborers in factories, farms, or the oil industries while the multinational corporations get the land and the resources (Style, 3). Francisco Morales, a resident of Texcoco, Mexico, openly expressed his opinion during a protest against the PPP: "I am an ejidatario (communal land owner) from La Magdelena. I'm 75 years old and have been working my plot for 50 years, since my father passed away. Our people have preferred a handful of earth to a wad of bills. Money disappears (but) we will have our lands forever. Our land allows us to look people in the eye, as equals" (Pickard, 6).
Ideally, the relationship between the Puebla-Panama Plan and rural to urban migration should be one of benefit. According to the goals and initiatives of the governments involved in the plan's formulation, the PPP will create significant decreases in rural to urban migration through the establishment of maquiladoras, which will create tens of thousands of jobs throughout the region. The establishment of these maquiladoras becomes possible through government loans, private institution loans, and foreign direct investment focusing on development in the region. This development, which formulates the relationship between the PPP and the construction industry, will come in the form of infrastructure inputs - roads, railways, bridges, highways, dams, electrical grids, telecommunications, airports, and seaports. The construction industry builds the infrastructure, which allows the development of rural areas, which draws the foreign companies to build the factories, which create the jobs that eliminate the need for native residents to migrate. This is the ideal outcome of the Puebla-Panama Plan.
Now for the reality. Since the plan is still underway, and will be for many years to come, its success can only be speculated by sifting through the gatherable research. Some aspects of the PPP really can be beneficial to the prevention of rural to urban migration - infrastructure, compatible electricity, telecommunications, human development, sustainable development - but other aspects such as the promotion of tourism leave something to be questioned in the regards to the plan's sincerity in benefiting rural populations. The appearance is that the project will be initiated whether local communities agree with it or not. Mexico and Latin America are definitely in need of economic improvement, but not at the expense of the environment and local cultures. There just seems to be too much focus on the benefit of capitalism and corporate proliferation and not enough on local communities if the plan is to succeed. Based on the information presented, rural to urban migration could be better prevented if the Puebla-Panama Plan placed a greater emphasis on the establishment of services in rural areas, implemented educational and skilled training programs, and finding ways for maintaining individual land ownership for small farmers. It is understandable and expected that this program will be a shock to the inhabitants of this region. However, at its current status it is quite possible that the Puebla-Panama Plan will just be too much of a shock for them to handle. The fear lies in that the program may end up promoting even greater rates of migration by completely altering the way of life of these populations and presenting them with, what they believe is, a totally unacceptable alternative - forfeiting their land and receiving nothing in its place to fill the void.
The global trend of rural to urban migration is one that plagues every developing
country throughout the world. Through the first section of the paper, we envision
the strain that this trend places on these developing countries and how they
are unable to provide for the influx of these mass numbers of migrants. Through
the case study, we see how the construction industry is called upon to bring
to reality the infrastructure projects whose goals are to bring development
into these rural regions with the hope of relieving the pressure to migrate.
It is essential that implemented infrastructure inputs be effective and achieve
the goals for which they are intended, or else the risk for continued, or
even increased, migration becomes a hostile and demanding reality.
The construction industry the world over has the opportunity, when called upon, to aid in the alleviation of rural to urban migration by implementing well-built and long-lasting structures. In regards to the future, in order for infrastructure implements to be effective, I believe that they must be coupled with other initiatives; the programs in their entirety, must be carefully located, timed, and executed. In order to deter the migration of rural residents, the programs and infrastructure inputs must focus on the benefits of existing local communities, rather than on global competition and corporate gain. Competitiveness in the world market will follow. Developing nations must take these initiatives one-step at a time so as not to overwhelm rural residents and leave them feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from beneath their universe. Doing this will only leave them with a sense of loss while, in reality, what they need to be given are feelings of prosperity, knowledge, ability, and gain.
If these factors are taken into account then I truly believe that the construction industry can be effectively implemented to combat rural to urban migration. Until that time comes, I feel that programs such as the Puebla-Panama Plan and others similar to it will enjoy only limited success in their ambitions to alleviate this trend.
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