Monday, October 03, 2011

U.S.-Mexican Relations Lead the Way in the Hemispheric Race to the Bottom: Maquiladoras, Free Trade, and a Can of Worms

[1] National Public Radio, "Transcript of President Obama's Job Speech," accessed September 12, 2011,
[2] Colombia Reports: "US-Colombia FTA to be ratified this year: Obama", accessed September 13, 2011,
[3] AFL-CIO, "NAFTA's Seven-Year Itch: Promised Benefits Not Delivered to Workers," accessed September 13, 2011,
[4] Kate Bronfenbrenner. "We'll Close! Plant Closings, Plant-Closing Threats, Union Organizing and NAFTA," Cornell University ILR School Faculty Publications - Collective Bargaining, Labor Law, and Labor History (1997); Richard D. Vogel. "The NAFTA Corridors: Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico," The Monthly Review, 57.9 (2006)
[5] Robert E. Scott, The Economic Policy Institute. "The high price of 'free' trade," Washington, D.C.: The Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper 147 (2003), accessed September 13, 2011,
[6] Scott, The Economic Policy Institute, "The high price,"
[7] Entities called maquiladoras exist elsewhere, but this paper will focus on those in Mexico.
[8] The terms maquila and maquiladora are interchangeable.
[9] Kathryn Kopinak, "Gender as a Vehicle for the Subordination of Women Workers in Mexico," Latin American Perspectives, 22.1, "Labor and the Free Market in the Americas," (1995): 31.
According to William Robinson, "the emergence of new post-Fordist flexible regimes of accumulation require 'flexible' and 'just in time' -- that is, casualized, feminized, deunionized, and contingent--labor. Flexibility means that capital abandons reciprocal obligations to labor in the employment contract while states, with their transmutation from developmentalist to neoliberal, roll back public obligations to poor and working majorities." William I. Robinson, Latin America and Global Capitalism: A Critical Globalization Perspective (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 239.
[10] Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, "Southwest Economy Second Quarter 2010: Spotlight: Maquiladora Employment: New Data Confirm Pickup in Juárez Factory Jobs," accessed September 12, 2011,
[11] Due to the limited availability of data, I will focus on the period from 1982 to 2000.
[12] Leslie Sklair, Assembling for Development: The Maquila Industry in Mexico and the United States (San Diego, CA: The University of California, San Diego Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1993), ch. 3
[13] Patricia Ann Wilson, Exports and Local Development: Mexico's New Maquiladoras (Austin, TX: University of Texas press, 1992): 40; Sklair, Assembling for Development, 67.
[14] Wilson, Exports and Local Development, 43, fig. 2.
[15] Paul Cooney. "The Mexican Crisis and the Maquiladora Boom: A Paradox of Development or the Logic of Neoliberalism?" Latin American Perspectives, 28.3: "Mexico in the 1990s: Economic Crisis, Social Polarization, and Class Struggle, Part I" (2001): 61, Figure 4; Tamar Diana Wilson: "The Masculinization of the Mexican Maquiladoras," Review of Radical Political Economics, 34.3 (2002), 7, Table 2.
[16] Sklair, Assembling for Development, 73.
[17] It is unclear from the text whether this occurred as part of the same decree. Cooney, "The Mexican Crisis," 62
[18] Press Release: IMF Approves US $17.8 Billion Stand-By Credit for Mexico", written February 1, 1995; accessed September 14, 2011,
[19] Cooney, "The Mexican Crisis," 59, Figure 3.; ibid., 61, Figure 4; Wilson, "The Masculinization," 7, Table 2.
[20] ibid., 55.
[21] William C. Gruben and Sherry L. Kiser, "NAFTA and Maquiladoras: Is the Growth Connected?" Dallas: The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, June 2001, accessed March 3, 2011,
[22] The Economist, "Making the desert bloom," The Economist, August 27, 2011, (accessed September 15, 2011)
[23] Miller Canfield, "Amendments to the Maquiladora/IMMEX Decree," Miller Canfield, Alert (January 21, 2011), accessed September 15, 2011,
[24] Koen van't Hek, Michael Becka, and Rocio Mejia, "Mexican government enacts important changes to IMMEX (formerly Maquiladora) regime," Integrante de Ernst & Young Global, IMMEX Newsletter (2010), accessed September 15, 2011,$FILE/comentarios_832.pdf
[25] Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, "Estadística Mensual del Programa de la Industria Manufacturera, Maquiladora y de Servicios de Exportación (IMMEX): Cuadros y Gráficas con Cifras Nacionales (Julio 2007 - Junio 2011)," Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (September, 2011), accessed September 15, 2011,
[26] ibid.; Crossborder Group, Inc., "Mexico's IMMEX Industry (Maquiladora/PITEX): On the Rebound?" Crossborder Group, Inc., Crossborder+Insights (February 17, 2010), accessed September 15, 2011,
[27] Border Committee of Women Workers and Rachael Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA: A View from Inside the Maquiladoras." In Women and Globalization, edited by Delia D. Aguilar and Anne E. Lacsamana. (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004), 93.
[28] Border Committee and Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA," 107.
[29] ibid., 93, 98, 106, 112.
[30] Churchill, Nancy, "Maquiladoras, Migration, and Daily Life: Women and Work in the Contemporary Mexican Political Economy," in Women and Globalization, ed. Delia D. Aguilar and Anne E. Lacsamana. (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004), 132.; Border Committee, "Six Years of NAFTA," generally.
[31] Cooney, "The Mexican Crisis," 59, Fig. 3.; Border Committee, "Six Years of NAFTA," 102.
[32] Border Committee, "Six Years of NAFTA," 100-101.
[33] Churchill, "Maquiladoras, Migration, and Daily Life," 131.
[34] Border Committee and Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA," 103.
[35] ibid.
[36] ibid., 107-108; Churchill, "Maquiladoras, Migration, and Daily Life, 131.
[37] Border Committee and Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA," 103, 104.
[38] ibid., 99, 105; Comite Fronteriza de Obrer@s, "Los Trabajadores y Maquiladoras," accessed March 3, 2011,
[39] Michelle Perla, "Women's Work Preferences in Agua Prieta, Mexico: Maquiladora Work vs. Self-Employment" (conference paper, Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, CA, August 7th-10th, 2009): 25.
[40] Border Committee and Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA,"  111.
[41] ibid.
[42] Kopinak, "Gender as a Vehicle," 34.
[43] Border Committee and Kamel, "Six Years of NAFTA," 110.
[44] Roberto Frenkel and Jaime Ros, “Unemployment and the Real Exchange Rate in Latin America," World Development 34.4 (2006): 640, Figure 3.
[45] Perla, "Women's Work Preferences," 10.
[46] Border Committee, "Six Years of NAFTA," 98. The Committee writes that "Mexico needs a million new jobs every year; in thirty-four years, by contrast, the maquiladoras have created a total of 1.1 million jobs."
[47] National Public Radio, "Transcript of President Obama's Job Speech."

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