San Antonio Marks Its Role In NAFTA Signing
October 08, 2012

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
The NAFTA initializing ceremony in San Antonio, Oct. 7, 1992. Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and United States President George H. W. Bush are top left, while U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills is seated in the center.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- It was 20 years ago this week that the leaders of the three North American nations signed NAFTA. The historic signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement was celebrated Monday in San Antonio.

It was on Oct. 7, 1992, under an old oak tree in downtown San Antonio that Mexican President Carlos Salinas, U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the historic treaty that dropped trade barriers on the continent.

Twenty years later a historic plaque was unveiled under that same oak tree. And NAFTA is being felt throughout the three economies and at the dinner table, said Jody Hall, Director of Global Sourcing for H-E-B groceries.

“There was U.S. rules that prevented avocados from coming into the U.S. unless the seed was removed," Hall said.

And there were NAFTA naysayers, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

“There was Ross Perot saying all the jobs were going to be sucked into Mexico. How terribly wrong he was. What we’ve seen is job growth in all three countries,” Wolff said.

However, NAFTA backers had promised the treaty would slow immigration to the U.S. because of the prosperity that would come to Mexico. In fact, just the opposite happened, which can be attributed at least partly to the disruption that NAFTA brought to Mexico’s agricultural economy.