Mexico: authorities ‘rescue’ maquila workers

Federal and state authorities said they rescued 129 Mexican workers on Feb. 5 from sexual and labor exploitation at Yes Internacional SA de CV, a Korean-owned garment assembly plant in Zapopan in the western state of Jalisco. The factory was closed down, and four of the executives were detained, according to the National Migration Institute (INM). The workers–who were mostly women, including six minors–reported being subjected to blows and insults, and federal authorities indicated that they would investigate reports of interrupted pregnancies and serious injuries apparently resulting from sexual assaults. In 2013 Jalisco police said they rescued at least 275 people who had been held in inhumane conditions in a tomato-packing factory.

Mexican media described Yes International as a maquiladora, a tax-exempt assembly plant producing for export. Its products were largely socks, but press accounts didn't indicate what retailers contracted with the factory. The day after the initial raid, the federal Labor and Social Welfare Secretariat (STPS) said the factory was closed for irregularities in its operation, such as a failure to certify the plant's boilers, not for mistreatment of workers. Some plant employees told reporters they hadn't experienced abuses and that they objected to the closing of the plant. Although the workers said the pay was low—600 to 700 pesos a week (about $40.50 to $ 47.24)—they were upset about losing jobs in an area with limited employment opportunities. (La Jornada, Mexico, Feb. 6, Feb. 7; International Business Times, Feb. 6)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, February 8.