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Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Prior to the millennium, economists and policy makers argued that free trade between the United States and Mexico would benefit both Americans and Mexicans.
Blending rigorous economic and statistical analysis with concern for the people affected, Mexican Women in American Factories offers the first assessment of whether NAFTA has fulfilled these expectations by examining its socioeconomic impact on workers in a Mexican border town. Carolyn Tuttle led a group that interviewed women maquila workers in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The responses from this representative sample refute many of the hopeful predictions made by scholars before NAFTA and reveal instead that little has improved for maquila workers.
Project MUSE - Mexican Women in American Factories
The women's stories make it plain that free trade has created more low-paying jobs in sweatshops where workers are exploited. Most of the workers there were women, perhaps because they the bosses felt we'd be easier to push around. They go to the US and find new partners, often leaving eight, nine or ten children behind. That leaves the women and children here to work the land. Border patrol.
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The US has strengthened border patrols with Mexico in an attempt to prevent more deaths of illegal Mexicans migrants. Every year, hundreds of migrants are found by the US border patrol suffering from the effects of extreme heat; many left for dead by smugglers. Under the new measures, more aircraft will be deployed along the border.
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Recently, Juan Hernandez, the head of the government's Office for Mexicans Abroad, unveiled a video campaign which is being shown on buses travelling towards the border. NAFTA provided no social contract. It offered neither aid for Mexico nor labor, health or environmental standards.
The agreement protected corporate investors; everyone else was on his or her own. It is the model for the proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, as well as for the Bush administration's development plans for Iraq. The next day, in Mexico City, a large group of very ardent Mexican farmers broke down the door of the lower house of the Mexican Congress to denounce NAFTA and demand that it be renegotiated. Similar demonstrations -- joined by teachers, utility workers and others -- have erupted throughout the country, closing bridges and highways and taking over government offices.
Largely because of the agreement, Salinas is the most unpopular ex-president in modern Mexican history. NAFTA's critics did not doubt that it would stimulate more trade; that was, after all, its function. Rather, they predicted that any benefits would go largely to the rich while the middle class and the poor would pay the costs, and that the promised growth would not materialize. They were right. Since NAFTA's inception in -- indeed, for the 20 years of neoliberal "reform" -- the Mexican middle class has shrunk and the number of poor has expanded.
Economic growth has been below the old corporatist economy's performance and substantially less than what is needed to generate jobs for Mexico's growing labor force. During his campaign, Mexican President Vicente Fox promised that under his six-year term the country would grow 7 percent per year. Two and a half years after his inauguration, growth has averaged less than 1 percent.
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So the northward migration continues. Between the U.
Mexican Women in American Factories
Border-crossings diminished temporarily after September 11, but they are now as great as ever. Some half-million Mexicans come to the United States every year; roughly 60 percent of them are undocumented. The massive investments in both border guards and detection equipment have not diminished the migrant flow; they have just made it more dangerous. In the past five years, more than 1, Mexican migrants have died on the journey to the north, including 19 people who were found asphyxiated in a truck near Houston in May. Still, as a neighbor of one of the 19 who left told The Washington Post , "If you're going to improve your life, you have to go to the United States.
The failure of NAFTA to deliver on its promise of a better life for Mexicans represents more than just a misplaced faith in free trade. Behind the laissez-faire rhetoric, Mexico's neoliberals were pursuing a large-scale program of government social engineering aimed at forcing Mexico's rural population off the land and into the cities, where it could provide cheap labor for the foreign investment that the new open economy would attract.
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Salinas and the PRI reformers did not, of course, announce that they intended to depopulate rural Mexico. The Mexican government promised that as tariffs on U. But, after the treaty was signed, the reformers pulled the rug out from under the rural peasantry. Meanwhile, the U. Congress massively increased subsidies for corn, wheat, livestock, dairy products and other farm products exported to Mexico. American farmers now receive 7.