Drug wars in Juarez…and the cause—NAFTA, really.

by Stormy and Dan

Drug wars in Juarez…and the cause—NAFTA, really.

Mexico drug cartel in the Guardian:

Mexico’s main crossing point to the US has always had a seedy border vibe, but two decades ago it was envisaged as a showcase for a new economy built on free trade, manufacturing and cheap labour.

Factories drew migrants from all over Mexico but low wages kept families poor and often forced both parents to work, leaving children unsupervised. Secondary schools barely functioned, leading to a 50% drop-out rate. Today cartels and gangs find easy recruits amid the 50,000 ni nis, teenagers who neither study nor work. (bolding is mine)

The poverty in Juarez, the slave wages were brought about by NAFTA. Juarez is not only a violent drug town, it is also NAFTA heaven… As this article Die off: explains the hellhole for those who work there; a money maker for all the companies that outsourced:

There are a total of 350 foreign-owned factories in Juarez, the highest concentration in all of Mexico, and they employ 150,000 workers. The twin plant system-in Spanish, rnaquiladoras-was created by the United States and Mexico in 1965 so that Americans could exploit cheap Mexican labor and yet not pay high Mexican tariffs.

When I practically drill the actual wages into someone’s head when discussing the issue, he or she will counter by saying that the cost of living is much cheaper in Mexico. This is not true. Along the border, Mexican prices on average run at 90 percent of U.S. prices. Basically, the only cheap thing in Mexico is flesh, human bodies you can fornicate with or work to death. What is happening in Mexico betrays our notion of progress, and for that reason we insist that each ugly little statistic is an exception or temporary or untrue. For example, in the past two years wages (2) in the maquiladoras have risen 50 percent. Fine and good. But inflation in that period is well over 100 percent.

Juarez is an exhibit of the fabled New World Order in which capital moves easily and labor is trapped by borders. There are a total of 350 foreign-owned factories in Juarez, the highest concentration in all of Mexico, and they employ 150,000 workers. The twin plant system-in Spanish, rnaquiladoras-was created by the United States and Mexico in 1965 so that Americans could exploit cheap Mexican labor and yet not pay high Mexican tariffs. Although the products that come from the factories are counted as exports (and thus figured into GDP), economists figure that only 2 percent of material inputs used in maquila production come from Mexican suppliers. All the parts are shipped to Mexico from the United States and other countries, then the Mexicans assemble them and ship them back. Two or three thousand American managers commute back and forth from El Paso every day

Workers who lose their jobs receive essentially no benefits beyond severance pay. Mexico has no safety net. Independent, worker-controlled unions barely exist, and anyone trying to organize one is fired, or murdered. (3) It is almost impossible to get ahead working in the maquilas. Real wages have been falling since the 1970s. And since wages are just a hair above starvation level, maquilas contribute practically nothing toward forging a consumer society. Of course, as maquiladora owners and managers point out, if wages are raised, the factories will move to other countries with a cheaper labor force.

And so industry is thriving. Half a million cargo-laden trucks move from Juarez to El Paso each year. Boxcars rumble over the railroad bridge. New industrial parks are opening up. Labor is virtually limitless, as tens of thousands of poverty-stricken people pour into the city each year.

There are few environmental controls and little enforcement of those that do exist. El Paso/Juarez is one of the most polluted spots in North America. And yet it is a success story. In Juarez the economic growth in 1994 it was 6 percent, and last year it registered 12 percent.

According to Lucinda Vargas, the Federal Reserve economist who tracks Mexico’s economy, Juarez is a “mature” economy. This is as good as it gets. With the passage of NAFTA, narcotraficantes began buying maquiladoras in Juarez. They didn’t want to miss out on the advantages of free trade.

In 1991, Nicholas Scheele, the head of the Ford Motor Company in Mexico, said in admiration of the government’s control, “But is there any other country in the world where the working class . . . took a hit in their purchasing power of in excess of 50 percent over an eight-year period and you didn’t have a social revolution?” Maybe you get something you don’t have to define as a revolution. There are over 200 gangs in Juarez.

Ok…now who is responsible for conditions in Juarez?

Business week notes:

Mexico’s Ciudad Juárez is one of the most violent places on earth. Drug gangs fight endless battles with each other and police in the streets and alleys of Juárez’ poorest neighborhoods. In the past 28 months this city of 1.5 million, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, has recorded 5,200 murders.

Even though Juárez is the center of Mexico’s war on drug dealers, it’s holding its own as the center of maquiladoras, the special zones Mexico developed 30 years ago to attract investment. “It’s a dual reality,” explains Bob Cook, president of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp., a group that encourages multinationals to invest on both sides of the border.

In return for building factories in the maquiladoras, multinationals get favorable tax treatment, pay low wages (sometimes as low as $4.21 a day)….(Dan here…and location, freedom from paying for schools and such, in gated industrial parks)

Blue chips like Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Delphi Automotive, and Scientific Atlanta show no signs of leaving. El Diario, the local daily, is filled with help-wanted ads from Lear (LEA), Delphi, Siemens (SIE), and other companies.

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