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A Labor Spring for Mexico’s Maquilas?

By: 
Daniel Blue Tyx

The streets of Matamoros’s Ciudad Industrial were alive with activity. The northeastern border city sits on the banks of the Rio Grande, directly across from Brownsville, Texas. Outside the gates of dozens of maquiladora factories arranged in grid-like fashion in this industrial zone, workers crowded in front of white banners with the numbers “20/32” scrawled in black marker, representing the strikers’ demands for a 20% pay hike and an annual $32,000 peso (about $1,578 USD) bonus. Their bodies blocked would-be strikebreakers from entering the factory. Nearby, workers took shelter from the cold, huddling over wood fires beneath tarps rigged to form temporary encampments. Many leaders I spoke with when I visited on February 14 said they hadn’t been home since the work stoppage began a week earlier. Often, they’d slept in their cars.