Strategies in Social Movements Surrounding Northern Mexican Maquiladoras

Katelyn Swift-Spong


The United States and Mexico have had strong economic ties for almost as long as they have been independent countries. Now, with an increase in globalization, free trade, and neoliberal policies, these ties are strengthening even further. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which began in 1994, has had a significant impact on the economic ties between the U.S. and Mexico as well as the labor movements in these two countries. NAFTA allowed for reduced trade restrictions among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The reduced trade restrictions prompted an increase in the maquiladora industry in Mexico. Maquiladoras, or maquilas, are export oriented factories owned by transnational corporations. NAFTA also allowed for an increase in the import of cheap agricultural products from the U.S. into Mexico. These large changes as a result of NAFTA have caused workers in both the U.S. and Mexico to fundamentally shift how they approach fighting for rights. With this type of globalization, instead of solely working within one community or country, movements now need some form of international backing. This necessity of working transnationally is a result of the globalization of corporations. This shift has led to workers in the U.S. and Mexico fighting for rights together with many unions and organizations.