For the labor rights and all human rights of the maquiladora workers
Open Letter to the President of Mexico
Open Letter to the President of Mexico Felipe Calderón Hinojosa on the 15th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement
15 years after its inception, The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has worsened the wages and living conditions of Mexican workers.
This is the conclusion drawn by thousands of us who work in the maquiladora export industry in our country’s northern border cities. For fifteen years we have experienced in our own lives the reality of NAFTA, which we see in our own homes at the dinner hour or when we cannot afford our children’s schooling. This reality is very different from that of the speeches of politicians who do not know what it is like to live on a wage of 500 pesos (37 dollars) a week.
On the occasion of NAFTA’s 15 th anniversary, which was January 1, 2009, the Comit é Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO, or Border Committee of Workers) made a survey of several dozen workers.
“NAFTA was a swindle. It didn’t keep its promise of more and better jobs, but rather the contrary. Now everything is more expensive: food, school supplies, transportation, everything,” affirms Teresa Hern ández, a worker in Matamoros.
“In 1993, even with a single salary and two children in school, I could buy more. It used to provide enough to send your children to school and eat better. Now it isn’t enough to do anything,” a worker in Ciudad Acuña told us.
Wages have lost half their value of 30 years ago. Workers are making half what our parents made. It is an established fact that more than two full-time salaries are needed for one household’s minimal expenses. That’s why most maquiladora workers have two jobs, or have the entire family at work. Wages are not keeping up with inflation.
“I have to take in other people’s washing, and I am still only half way to meeting expenses,” says a worker from Reynosa. Other workers sell lunches at the factory, or tacos or cosmetics on the weekends. Many other cross over every week to the US border towns to sell their blood plasma.
One cannot speak of the success of NAFTA when this so-called success only exists on the charts and graphs showing the increase of trade between the United States and Mexico. Contrary to what your government has said, free trade does not engender benefits for all. The growth of Mexico’s international trade has not been reflected in the economy of those of us who make this commercial activity possible.
Now that we are seeing the heavy impact on Mexico of the economic crisis in the United States, it is more necessary than ever to review and ensure that our country’s economic strategies are not just at the service of international corporations and their Mexican allies, but that they really do benefit the working class. For this reason, we are convinced that the North American Free Trade Agreement must be renegotiated.
We would appreciate a reply from you at the postal address given below.
www.cfomaquiladoras.org is produced in cooperation with the
Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO)