Aug 23, 2011

Globalization: Maquiladora Factories Manufacture Toxic Pollutants

IPS Since the 1960s, maquiladoras or export assembly plants have been the cornerstone of Mexico's strategy to attract foreign direct investment and boost exports. But the environmental and social costs have been high. Maquiladoras, which in Mexico mainly produce clothing, cars and electronic equipment, consume huge volumes of water, generate hazardous waste products like alcohols, benzene, acetone, acids and plastic and metal debris, and emit polluting gases.

The plants, which take advantage of Mexico's low wages, tax exemptions, and flexible labour laws while in return providing jobs, cause significant environmental damages. "Government oversight is poor. There aren't enough inspectors. There is no obligatory inspection scheme, only a voluntary one, and inspections are arranged in advance, with no surprise visits," Magdalena Cerda, the Tijuana representative for the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), told IPS. "We have seen gradual deterioration in the urban communities where the factories are located."

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