About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fast Pass to Mexico (with an extra side of snark)

As Harry Shearer advises - read the trades. It looks like maquiladora managers are angling to get businesses to come back to Mexico from Eastern Europe and China because, as maquiladora fix-it man Rick Thompson says:
Yes, the violence is a concern and a few companies have decided not to locate in Juarez but most are forging ahead. In the end, economics, not fear, has been the determining factor for a company’s decision.
Rick, you see, works in Juarez and is interested in getting business back into the border town. To do so, he offers practical advice:
There are some standard precautions I take that could be applied to many foreign locations. I spend the night in the closest safe and secure place possible – in this case, El Paso – and commute over the border daily. I don’t go out late at night and I stay away from the worst part of Juarez where most of the violence happens. I drive an ordinary car and advise others to leave the Escalade at home.
You see, Juarez is cool... if you live in Texas. At any rate, it appears the biggest fear for businesses is not violence or workers being robbed on the bus to the maquila, but labor laws and perceptions of Mexico:
You have to consider the pro-labor laws in Mexico, or any other country being considered, especially if you are in a highly seasonal business. If you lay someone off in Mexico, there’s a three months minimum severance, plus a month for every year of service.

You have to get along with your new employees. Historically, Mexicans had a reputation for taking siestas and two-hour lunches. That’s in the past. Companies along the border are copies of U.S. companies, with sophisticated lean manufacturing and Six Sigma programs. Mexicans are very hard workers. New technology can sometimes be a challenge, but is improving all the time. All my staff spoke English in Mexico. This is night and day compared to Hungary or China.
Oh, and if you are worried about that wait to cross the border because of all that "inspection" silliness, Homeland Security offers a fast pass for those crossing the boarder called SENTRI. Just buy a SENTRI pass and hop in the SENTRI line and your wait to cross into Mexico is 10 minutes, not an hour. It is all part of the "Trusted Traveler" programs offered by DHS.

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