Maquiladoras, or American-owned firms along the US-Mexico border, form the backbone of California’s pandemic response. Workers in maquiladoras make complex, life-saving medical devices like ventilators, respirators, masks, and hospital beds, among other things. However, only for export to the US. Despite medical equipment shortages and a severe COVID outbreak that has infected over 3.9 million people and killed 297,000 people (a figure widely regarded as low), Mexican hospitals and patients lack access to maquiladora-fabricated crucial supplies.
This is the nature of maquiladoras, which have been along the US-Mexico border since the 1960s and exploded after the 1994 approval of the contentious North American Free Trade Agreement. The maquiladora system helps foreign firms by providing tax breaks and low-cost, highly skilled labour, all while promoting an economy known for Workers exploitation and the destruction of local communities.
The region is most recognised for its collaboration with San Diego and Southern California, but it is also strengthening links with Silicon Valley. “Biotech is the future of the medical device sector,” Jaramillo said, noting that many companies with manufacturing operations in Baja California also have research and development facilities in Silicon Valley, allowing them to design and manufacture medical goods in tandem.