Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Fires on the Border: The Passionate Politics of Labor Organizing on the Mexican Frontera

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Fires on the Border: The Passionate Politics of Labor Organizing on the Mexican Frontera

Article excerpt

Fires on the Border: The Passionate Politics of Labor Organizing on the Mexican Frontera by Rosemary Hennessy. 2013. 280 pp. ISBN: 9780816679621. $25.00. paper. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minn. (612) 627-1970. www.upress.umn.edu

Over the last 20 years the debate about global trade agreements has driven a wedge into the body politic. There seems to be bipartisan agreement among politicians to pass these treaties, but many American workers see them as job killers. As the U.S. Congress currently debates fast-tracking yet another free trade agreement - this time with Asian nationsthe timing for Fires on the Border: The Passionate Politics of Labor Organizing on the Mexican Frontera could not be more appropriate. Rather than focus on the effect of trade agreements on American workers, however, this book shines a light on Mexican workers and their own labor movement in light of free trade.

In Mexico, a maquiladora is a manufacturing setup in a free trade zone, where the plants import material and equipment on a duty-free and tariff-free basis for assembly, processing, or manufacturing and then export the assembled, processed and/or manufactured products. When in 1994 the U.S. signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the growth of manufacturing plants in Mexico exploded. Butas the author of this book points out, so has the controversy in terms of the treatment of workers and working conditions there. The term maquiladora, in the Spanish language, refers to the practice of millers charging a maquila, or "miller's portion" for processing other people's grain. …

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