What is a maquiladora?
Maquiladoras are foreign-owned factories located in Mexico that are typically found along the US/Mexico border. Maquiladoras produce a variety of products including electronic components, chemicals, clothes, machinery, and auto parts.
The maquiladora program began in 1965 as part of the Mexican government’s Border Industrialization Program. It was developed in response to the demise of the US government’s Bracero Program, which allowed Mexican farmworkers to legally perform seasonal work within the US. The end of the Bracero Program caused an unemployment crisis in the border region. The Mexican government responded to this crisis by creating the maquiladora program which provided an incentive to foreign manufacturers to move production to Mexico. This incentive was created by allowing duty free import of raw materials and other supplies into the country with the stipulation that the manufactured goods and the resulting wastes were eventually exported to another country. The passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993 led to an increased number of maquiladoras in the border region. In 2003, there were 2,893 maquiladoras employing 1,063,123 people.
The high concentration of maquiladoras combined with less rigorous environmental regulations, limited capacity to enforce environmental laws, and the expense of exporting hazardous waste has created an incentive for illegal dumping and has polluted the surrounding land, water, and air. Inside the maquiladoras, occupational hazards relating to toxic chemical exposure and workplace safety also affect human health. Occupational hazards are of particular concern in Mexico since first-time violators are rarely punished and since penalties are typically incurred only for imminent dangers and failures to address previously highlighted violations.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Haz-Map Occupational Health Info (National Library of Medicine)
Hazardous Substances Data Bank 4500+ chemicals (National Library of Medicine)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health home page (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards 670+ chemicals (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Right to Know Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets 1700+ chemicals (New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services)
Safety and Health (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Traumatic Occupational Injuries (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)
Worker's Page (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Chemicals in Industry
Are these chemicals in MY Industry?
Volatile Organic Compounds
Last Updated: December 09, 2008