Here’s a consequence of U.S. trade policy that never gets reported, until now. The linked article details how the lives of American white collar workers are put at risk every day as they are forced by their companies, profiting from slave labor wages and conditions in Mexican border town factories, to cross into that failed state’s drug war zone in order to supervise operations there.
Nearly 3,500 white-collar workers from El Paso, Texas, cross a fortified border each workday, some of them wearing body armor as they enter the drug-torn city of Juarez, home to more than 100 parts factories that are a critical cog in the U.S. auto industry.Rampant kidnappings, including the abduction of an executive for Southfield-based Lear, have unnerved residents on both sides of the border. Other executives have been targeted for robberies and extortion. One auto parts factory was invaded by gunmen who robbed employees.
Local officials insist the violence has not harmed U.S. workers or auto factories.
But Detroit auto executives in Juarez said they fear for their lives.
Mexico is a land rich in natural resources. The U.S. imports as much oil from Mexico as it does from Saudi Arabia. And, though twice as densely populated as the U.S., Mexico is far less densely populated than many wealthy nations, including virtually all of Europe. By all rights, Mexico should be a wealthy country. Yet, while the Saudis enjoy a very high standard of living, Mexicans endure abject poverty. Slave wages persist there thanks to a corrput Mexican government and the complicity of the U.S., yielding to lobbying pressure by corporations who profiteer from these circumstances.
This is exactly the kind of situation that President Obama promised during his campaign to correct – fixing NAFTA to require labor standards and environmental protections. Yet, since his election, he has had absolutely nothing to say publicly about the egregious conditions in Mexico that have spawned these border town slave labor camps, robbing us of manufacturing jobs and subjecting other American workers to intolerable conditions. Instead of helping American manufacturing workers, he has threatened our auto industry with bankruptcy and has forced American workers to agree to more and more wage and benefit cuts in order to compete with conditions in Mexico.
Perhaps there’s some sort of grand plan yet to unfold that will restore our manufacturing sector and the prospects for American workers but, so far, it’s awfully difficult to see any evidence of it. For now, when it comes to Mexico, the only “hope we can believe in” may be that conditions along the Mexico border become so intolerable that American executives move their factories back north out of fear for their own safety.