Inicio Foreign factories in Mexico at risk

Foreign factories in Mexico at risk

Por Sonia García

Mexico has been converted into a maquiladora country (an assembly line for foreign industry), with the risk that transnational companies will use the country as a jumping off point for moving into other regions where the cost of production is even less.

This was the consensus of a group of specialists in the Foreign Direct Investment and Trade tent at a round table discussion regarding the maquiladoras during the Global Forum of Financing for the Right to Sustainable and Equitable Development.

Due to the economic decline of the United States, the Maquiladora Industry in Mexico has gone from second to third place as the source of foreign income as of last year. Resulting in the dismissal of 250 thousand workers out of the more than one million employed.

Victor Acuna, of the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, held that even with the low salaries that Mexico pays it’s workers, it’s still at disadvantage to Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or El Salvador, all countries that can provide cheaper labor.

Veronica Leyva, participant in the round table discussion, gave her testimony as a laid off maqiladora worker from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, one of the countries major maquiladora areas.

In Ciudad Juarez, where nearly 300 workers have been murdered in the last few years, there are 360 factories in this sector, employing 250 thousand people, over 50 percent of whom are women and 60 percent of those whom are single mothers.

Even though the average age of workers in the maquiladoras in Ciudad Juarez is twenty two years old, this sector also employs boys and girls starting as young as thirteen or fourteen, whose child labor rights are violated as they work full shifts and nights.

Violation of the workers rights is common, particularly toward women, who will not be hired if pregnant. Leyva held that the industry leaders of the area recently signed an agreement with the Canacintra The Camera Nacional de la industria y transformacion that unites them on a national level, together they will compile a black list, (under the pretext of creating an employment service) workers names that have been labeled as “troublemakers or agitators ” for defending their rights.

There was also a list made of lawyers who have defended workers whose labor rights have been violated at the hands of their employers.

Another detrimental effect maquiladoras have on their surrounding communities is the release of highly toxic and carcinogenic substances as the North American Free Trade Agreement does not require that this toxic waste be returned to the United States.

Translated by Sarah Stuteville and Livia Olvera Snyder

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