Globalization: Maquiladoras and Their Negative Impact upon the Environment and Women in Mexico
As firms increased commerce by expanding their business into markets located in different countries, numerous trade barriers and international restrictions have been progressively disabled. This cross-border trading has changed the once historically distinct and separate national markets into a global marketplace. Now the economies of countries throughout the world have become interpedently linked. This process of global integration is called globalization. However, the impact of globalization expands further than economic transformation and unification. In the Hispanic country of Mexico, globalization has given rise to maquiladoras. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines maquiladoras as, “an assembly plant in Mexico, especially one along the border between the United States and Mexico, to which foreign materials and parts are shipped and from which the finished product is returned to the original market”. The emergence of maquiladoras in Mexico has exposed the country to environmental pollution and a tolerance for the mistreatment of female maquiladora employees. According to Thomas L. Friedman, the author of The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, the current state of globalization has occurred due to three crucial three eras. The first era is classified as “Globalization 1.0”. It began with the emergence of trade between “the Old World and the New World” marked by Columbus’ exploration in 1492 and lasted until 1800 (Friedman 9). During this period, countries sought to define themselves by the level of manpower and ingenuity they possessed, and how skilled they were at utilizing their resources. The motivating force of globalization among countries was to secure their place in global commerce by finding ways to work with others. This era was significant because countries changed from being self-contained to more cooperative and willing to trade with other countries. The second era is “Globalization 2.0” which took place from 1800 to 2000 (Friedman 10). This period was led by multinational companies searching for new markets and sources of labor. Their drive for commerce laid the foundation for a global economy. The products and information these multinational companies transported across continents inspired the creation of technological advancements. Friedman states that tools such as the steam engine, railroad, telegraph, telephone, personal computer, satellite, fiber-optic cable, and the World Wide Web fueled globalization by reducing transportation and telecommunication costs. The third era is “Globalization 3.0” which began in 2000 and is continuing into the present (Friedman 10). This period has enabled individuals with the skills and tools essential for global communication and global commerce. Before this period only countries and companies had the capabilities needed to operate globally.
As globalization spread throughout the world, maquiladoras began to emerge in Mexico during the 1960’s (Gruben 11). According to William C. Gruben, the author of “Was NAFTA Behind Mexico’s High Maquiladora Growth”, the expansion of maquiladoras in Mexico can be attributed to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The North American Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as NAFTA, is an agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico which eliminated tariffs that were barriers to trade. NAFTA was established on January 1, 1994. The following two years marked a significant growth in the number of maquiladoras. In 1994, there were 2,200 Maquiladora plants with 550,000 workers. Then in 1996 maquiladoras grew to over 3,000 plants employing over 800,000 workers (Cooney, 55). The majority of maquiladoras are located along the U.S.–Mexico border in the cities of Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, El Paso, and Chihuahua. Population levels in urban areas have risen significantly due the...
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