of the industry’s machinery and 70 percent of its chemical production. U.S. oil equipment companies sold PEMEX $2 billion in machinery in 1981. Occidental Petroleum, Dresser Industries, Hercules, and Du Pont have invested in major oilbased operations in Mexico. Sixty-five percent of the world petroleum industry’s capital investment and 80 percent of its investment in oil exploration are in Mexico, which, in turn, sells most of its petroleum to the United States and much of that for $3 per barrel below OPEC prices. . Then there is.the Border Industrialization Program, initiated in the late 1960s, which provided for the entry of multinational corporations into the border economy. These corporations include Magnavox, Litton Industries, Kimberly-Clark, General Instrument, Memorex, Samsonite, Sears and Roebuck, Motorola, and Hughes Aircraft, all of which have maintained maquiladoras, or assembly plants on the Mexican side of the border. Under the plan, the multinationals provide little tax revenue, so there is no support generated for the infrastructure of Mexican society. Mexico also waives duties and regulations on the import of raw materials and equipment and on foreign capital destined for these plants. If the company imports.100 percent of its raw materials and exports 100 percent of its production, then there is no Mexican sales tax or corporate income tax assessed and usually little or no municipal or state tax. In the . United States, duty is paid only on the value added abroad. This value, in short, is the cheap labor provided by Mexico. IN THE process, Mexico maintains its subservient relationship to U.S. corporate interests while exchanging its role as provider of raw materials for that of assembler of raw materials brought in by the United States. It is an interesting reversal of the process of nineteenth-century capitalism, and it reveals that today Mexico’s most valuable raw commodity is cheap labor. While Mexico does benefit to the extent that some of its citizens are employed in these plants at a Mexican minimum wage, these plants may aggravate Mexico’s economic instability more than they help it. The chief beneficiaries of the border program are corporations in transition, for whom it serves as a stop-gap solution. The move to a maquiladora is often the first step by a U.S. corporation on a route that will eventually find most of its operations based in Third World countries providing cheap labor. U.S.-Mexico investment strategies, such as the maquiladora program, probably account for far more lost jobs in the United States than does the presence of undocumented workers. But there has been little opposition from organized labor \(often to these investment arrangements as compared to labor’s support for increased control of undocumented workers. In addition to direct U.S. corporate investment in Mexico, there is the matter of Mexico’s indebtedness to U.S. banks and to international funding mechanisms dominated by U.S. banking interests. In 1982, Mexico owed $50 billion to foreign banks and U.S.-dominated lending agencies. That is 14 times what it owed in 1970 and is little more than half what Mexico owes today. In order to meet these debts, Mexico has imposed a series of austerity programs, including cuts in major social services and devaluations of the peso, leading to huge increases in the price of such commodities as tortillas, gas, and electricity. Such policies have forced many to emigrate. “Stabilization [to satisfy lending institutions] cancels the state’s ability to govern and is unjust,” declared former Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo. According to University of Texas economist Michael Conroy: “Policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, such as those imposed in 1976 for `stabilization’ of the economy, are likely to contribute indirectly to the incentive -for migration by slowing job creation while contributing directly through pressures for devaluation of the peso. If . . . the U.S. government backed and even encouraged such measures, U.S. policy has been significantly responsible for the increase in the incentive for temporary migration.” Or, as the manager of the Fisher-Price Toys plant in Tijuana told the New York Times in 1982, “Essentially we are buying labor, and the devaluation is going to make it less expensive to purchase that labor.” The relationship of the United States and Mexico is not an accident or a natural phenomenon but is based on uneven development which works to the advantage of the more developed nation and to the increasing disadvantage of the underdeveloped. This unequal exchange, according to historian James Cockcroft, is “a product of power relations between people in which the labor of generations of Mexican peasants and workers has subsidized the economic development of the more industrialized nations.” GIVEN the fact that Mexican emigration is caused by an economy based an on inequitable relationship with the United States, it is, then, impossible to view the Simpson-Rodino proposals as anything more than the latest U.S. effort to perpetuate this relationship to the continuing advantage of U.S. corporations. The “guest worker” proposal in the bill is simply a way of ensuring that the landless labor force available to U.S. investors in Mexico will also be available on this side of the border without the possibility of workers demanding rights or the expense of certain federal payroll taxes. Indeed, the very criminalization of undocumented labor insures a class of workers that is not free to bargain, that is subject to the will of the employer. But this is no surprise, and it is no solution. Until we are able to recognize the complicity of United States interests in the economic plight of Mexico and until we are able to act in ways that serve Mexico’s independence and are not exclusively for the benefit of U.S. business interests, the problems of immigration from Mexico will not be solved. G. R. Unearthing the Truth ACCORDING to the Los Angeles Times, workers digging through the rubble left by Mexico City’s earthquake uncovered evidence of police torture. The bodies of lawyer Saul Ocampo and student Ismael Jimenez Perez were found tied up and bearing marks of torture. They were two of some 50 detainees who died when the prison collapsed. The detainees had been among those reported missing by Mexican human rights advocates. \(See “Looking for the Disappeared,” TO, Apparently one detainee, Miguel Guzman, was found alive in the ruined prison and was taken to a hospital. The next day, Guzman’s relatives were notified of the appearance of his body in a Mexico City cemetery. This tragic event is reminiscent of a story by nineteenthcentury German writer Heinrich von Kleist, “The Earthquake 4 OCTOBER 11; 1985
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