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Citations Needed

Jul 26, 2023

"The World Bank and its president have been doing an important, constructive job the past five years," announced The Southern Illinoisan in 1973. "IMF assistance [has] put Jamaica well on the road to recovery," reported The Winnipeg Sun in 1982. The Trans-Pacific Partnership “could be a legacy-making achievement” for Barack Obama, The New York Times suggested in 2015.

These are the dominant narratives surrounding so-called "development" initiatives, whether structural adjustment loans or "free trade" deals. Agreements like these, we're often told, have been and continue to be essential to the economic maturation and societal improvement of poor countries. Countries that shift from nationalized to privatized industry and land, so called liberalize trade policies, and institute a host of other free-market reforms are destined for greater efficiency, reduced poverty, and that much-coveted "Seat At The Table" in the global economy.

But, all too often, this isn't the effect of these initiatives. What we don’t tend to hear about is how economic development "agreements" engineered by wealthy countries like the US — e.g., IMF loans, NAFTA, or the TPP — don't promote, but rather reverse, the development of exploited countries. Media minimize not only these initiatives' destructive effects on economies, labor, and social programs in service of U.S. corporations, but also their relationship to the punitive U.S. immigration system, and their extensive role in mass global displacement.

This episode – the last installment of our three-part series on media narratives about immigration (listen to Part I here and Part II here!) – explores the displacing effects of "development" and "free trade" deals, as well as their connection to an increasingly militarized immigration "deterrence" machine, asking why capital is allowed to move freely, but people aren't.

Our guest is Dylan Sullivan.