Not-So-Free Trade

Marc Cooper argues that “the flow of poor people into the world’s most successful economy is going to continue no matter what we do.” [“Deport Congress,” April 7–13]. Yet only a few paragraphs earlier, he concedes that the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement has coincided with an erosion of the already-low Mexican standard of living.

In fact, the causes of the seemingly unending illegal migration of desperate Mexicans, like other economic issues, have always been within our control. Our economic policies of the past several decades, including our international-trade agreements, have constructed this world we now inhabit. But where once the economy was harnessed to provide for moral needs — family, education, old-age security — it is now in the service of plutocrats who care nothing for the needs of people or their communities. The exodus of Mexicans from their homeland is but one dramatic example of the “prosperity” that has been promised to any peoples who accept the embrace of so-called free trade. The undeniable erosion of the American middle-class is another.

Contrary to what Mr. Cooper believes, accommodating widespread illegal immigration or a guest-worker plan will only extend the misery for the millions of poor that remain in Mexico and hasten the decline of America’s own lower and middle classes.

David Marquez

Los Angeles

Family Unrest

Just came across the article about the Aguilars [“The Withering Spotlight,” March 17–23]. Well, I don’t have much sympathy for them. I was left with four little kids by an alcoholic husband and was never lucky enough to even be able to stay in one place for long. Things were so bad that I used to think of suicide, but who would take care of my kids? No wonder the right wingers make fun of us — why are we taking up the problems of those who persist in keeping and using drugs even after they’ve been in such trouble already?

Roslyn Smith

Valley Village

While reading Celeste Fremon’s article on the Aguilar family, I found myself overcome with alternating senses of outrage and despair. Based on the highly selective language Ms. Fremon chose to portray the situation, you might think the noble and diligent Mr. and Mrs. Aguilar were working-class heroes fighting courageously against impossible odds. What were so audaciously glossed over were the facts. These two so-called adults have six (yes, six) children, yet don’t seem to have the common sense to even take care of themselves.

I love some of the references: “. . . they did find. . . 13 grams of cocaine powder, 8 grams of meth and 5 grams of rock cocaine. It wasn’t exactly a big haul.” Well, Ms. Fremon, putting aside the multiple felonies committed, what do you consider a safe level of drugs and dealing in a house with six children, at least three of which are ages six or under? When I read the passage about the 6-year-old recoiling violently (“Not again, not again”), I was almost sick to my stomach. But according to the author, this is simply a “setback” based on “lapses in judgement.” Excuse me, Ms. Fremon, but for most parents a lapse in judgement is letting your kids stay out too late on a school night. But at least the parents sprung for their daughter’s coming-of-age party on their “slimmer-than-shoestring budget.” I’m sure it’s tough to make ends meet when you’ve got thousands of dollars of family money tied up in illegal drugs.

Allen Bartak

Marina del Rey

Plaque Incoming

City Hall reporter David Zahniser has been named a distinguished journalist by the Society of Professional Journalists, Los Angeles Chapter. Zahniser, who joined the Weekly’s staff two months ago, was recognized for his work at Copley News Service.


The black cocktail hat with netting featured in our fashion-issue story “The Maude Squad” [March 31–April 6] was incorrectly credited. It is available at Ariane, $280, (310) 276-9021.

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