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U.S. Firms in Mexico

July 14, 1991

I am writing in response to the article written by Patrick McDonnell about the Douglas Furniture Plant in Tijuana ("Why a U.S. Furniture-Maker Moved New Operations South," June 16). He did a good job of showing both the negative and positive, however, it seemed as if the article was insinuating that the Mexican worker is being exploited.

I am the marketing director for a maquiladora shelter (Alfa Southwest) in San Diego. We help U.S. firms manufacture in Tijuana by getting the facility, hiring the employees, etc.

The horror stories that are currently existing in central Mexico might have gotten more coverage. Many of the Mexican workers we hire come from wages of $3 per day, that's if they can find work at all. And $3 a day is better than starving.

Most of us with our comfortable lifestyles think it's a shame that the Mexican worker should be working under those conditions and for those wages ($8 to $20 per day). Wage differentials between nations are all relative. Einstein would have agreed.

The maquiladoras are in Mexico to be profitable. Competition from Asia is killing some American companies. The United States is looking to Mexico's most valuable resource for answers. It's not oil. It's their people. They have withstood the peso devaluation and corrupt presidents. Now the people are beginning to see that their wages and opportunities are starting to rise.

I feel the article's positive side of the maquiladora industry was a few paragraphs short. The Mexican employees are working there for a better life. That life is not easy, but it's better than what they came from. It's not what Americans are used to, so it looks awful to us.

There has always been inequality in incomes throughout history. The Mexican people have been slowly increasing their standard of living, but it takes time.

GEORGE KENGOTT, Marketing Director, Alfa Southwest Corp., National City

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