New Babylon: The Export of Production

“The unoccupied zone of Mexico, just south of the artificial [U.S.] border, provides a clear example [of the growing integration of the entire Third World into the U.S. economy is increasing national dislocation and misery]. There, in 1982, some 128,000 Mexicano women labored in the maquilas, the factories set up by U.S. corporations to assemble parts from the U.S. into finished products, which are then shipped back north across the artificial border. The average wage is less than $1 an hour, with a 48-hour workweek. RCA, Caterpillar Tractor, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors and many other major corporations have maquilas. GM has ten such plants in the unoccupied zone. Foster Grant sunglasses, Samsonite luggage, Mattel toys, and many other familiar products come in part out of the maquilas.

maquila in Mexico

The maquilas do not constitute any economic development for Mexico. They are just labor-intensive intrusions of U.S. manufacturing. It isn’t just the profits that go to the U.S. oppressor nation. The U.S. receives both the super-profits and the consumer products themselves while retaining all the white-collar managerial, professional, clerical, technical and distributive jobs made possible by the production. Even in this form – of giving Mexican women employment at wages five times the usual rate in the rural areas – the imperialist looting has a destructive effect on the social fabric. The border maquilas gather women from all over the unoccupied zone while helping to force jobless men north across the artificial border.

In Mexico, this has reached grotesque proportions. Within the unoccupied zone, the area of Western Sinaloa alone supplies some 50% of all winter vegetables consumed in the U.S. Thousands of peasants have been displaced, driven off traditional lands to make way for the large plantations (and their gunmen) that are neo-colonial agents for the U.S. supermarket chains. The land is Mexican, the labor is Mexicano. Only the profits and consumption are Euro-Amerikan. There is nothing too subtle about this. White Amerika is parasitic on the Mexicano nation, taking food from the starving to help fill up the fabled Amerikan supermarket. A report from Mexico in the New York Times tells the price paid by that oppressed nation for involuntarily maintaining the “American Way of Life.””

Excerpts from Sakai, J. 1989. Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat. Chicago: Morningstar Press. [Chapter 12, “The Global Plantation,” section 2, “New Babylon,” sub-section, “The Export of Production.” Emphasis added.]

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