Trans-Textil Internacional, S.A. de C.V., The Maquiladora of San Cristobal de las Casas

Trans-Textil Internacional, S.A. de C.V., The Maquiladora of San Cristobal de las Casas

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

By Miguel Pickard

Faced with the unemployment that 20 years of neoliberal policies are leaving, causing, among other disruptions, intense and growing peasant migration, governments at all levels are urged to create sources of employment, and have placed hope in the maquiladoras.

"These are the alternatives that we have long dreamed of for Chiapas"

Remarks by the Governor of Chiapas, Pablo Salazar Mendiguchia, on the occasion of the inauguration of Trans-Textil International, on April 11, 2002, in San Cristóbal.

A year ago, on April 11, 2002, President Vicente Fox flew in his presidential plane to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, in order to inaugurate a new, and until now the only, maquiladora (1) in this city, the Trans -Textil International, (TTI). Fox's visit underscored the importance that his government attaches to initiatives such as TTI, the result of a direct contribution of 17 million pesos (US $ 1.62 million) of public funds to establish this factory, part of the federal March for Development program. , and whose purpose, according to Fox, is "to close the development gap between the south of our country and the north of it."

For the governor of Chiapas, Pablo Salazar, the inauguration of TTI was nothing less than "the starting point of the industrial development of the state." (2) Faced with the unemployment that 20 years of neoliberal policies are leaving, causing, among other disruptions, intense and growing peasant migration, governments at all levels are urged to create sources of employment, and have placed hope in the maquiladoras. Hence Fox's gesture of presiding over the inauguration of TTI, since it represents for him and Governor Salazar, a beachhead, an example to follow, proof before businessmen that the southeast of Mexico can be an alternative for their investments. This is how the maquiladoras that have so far prevailed in the north of the country could spread throughout the southeast.

Are we facing a new mirage? Are the maquiladoras the solution to unemployment in the countryside and the resulting displacement, caused by two decades of neoliberal policies? A look at Trans-Textil in San Cristobal, and the export maquiladora industry in general, will help us answer if we are facing the industrial take-off of Chiapas dreamed of by Fox and Salazar.


For a plant like TTI's to be installed, the federal, state and municipal governments grant it "incentives", that is, they transfer money from our taxes to the companies, or they refrain from collecting amounts that they would normally obtain. In the case of TTI, the transfer of (at least) 17 million pesos consists of 6 million from the federal program March to Development, and another 11 million from the state government. The 6 million were awarded based on a commitment made by TTI to create 1,500 jobs, with each promised job equivalent to a transfer of 4 thousand pesos. Nothing but that are, until now, promised jobs, not created. On reaching one year of life in April 2003, 450 workers work at Trans-Textil, according to the manager, Jose A. Chehuan Borge. But in visits to the plant, several researchers calculated that there are fewer people working. In any case, the federal government has already transferred to TTI the 6 million pesos, which were used for the conditioning of the industrial warehouse that today houses the maquiladora.

For its part, the state government of Pablo Salazar bought the immense 8,400-square-meter warehouse for 10 million pesos from its previous owner, Bodegas Gigante, and gave it to TTI as a loan, without charging rent. The Chiapas government is also covering, through "scholarships", the salaries of TTI employees during the first six months of their stay in the maquiladora, the time it supposedly takes to train. In addition to the fact that the type of work that is carried out requires minimal training, the scholarships are actually the minimum wage that workers earn during the six months, and that the TTI is saved, but at the expense of Chiapas taxpayers. Likewise, it is during the first six months that the majority of layoffs or voluntary redundancies occur, and the company also saves the cost of retraining the new employees.

Finally, the municipal government of San Cristóbal put another twist on this incentive package, by building a sidewalk around the main entrances to the nave.

But instead of thanking these large transfers from the public purse, Trans-Textil Internacional has the luxury of not paying in full those who did the conditioning of the ship. Currently the TTI has an outstanding debt of about two million pesos that it has not paid to various builders and workers, including the company Prefabricados S.A. de C.V. (debt of $ 574,678.36), to Engineer Juan Gilberto Gómez Díaz (debt of approximately $ 466,000), SEPROFEL, S.A. (Debt of approximately $ 200,000), as well as pending debts with blacksmith, carpentry, plumbing, glazing and professionals of various trades, all of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. (3)

Governor Salazar and Vicente Fox's office have found out about the debt issue, without anything being done in a year. According to Amado Avendano, a well-known journalist and politician from Chiapas, in his presence Pablo Salazar spoke by phone with the owner of TTI to claim the debts and the bad image that the maquiladora is leaving, but the matter remains pending until today. The affected companies are contemplating a legal claim, despite the way of the cross that awaits them in the intricacies of Mexican justice, knowing that the opponent is powerful, wealthy and arrogant. "He is an individual who has made non-payment a whole way of life," according to journalist David Paramo. (4)

Workers' conditions (5)

The workers of this textile maquiladora are 60% women, 40% indigenous, and the average age is 22 years. Most women are dependent on children. Employees receive the minimum wage, currently 40.30 pesos (US $ 3.84) per day corresponding to "zone C", in which less is earned in the country. Officially, 45 hours a week are worked, spread over five days, plus two Sundays a month, "packing days." According to manager Chehuan, there are productivity awards for workers who have completed their six-month "training", based on production above a minimum quota of manufactured garments. These incentives can amount to 50% above the minimum wage. Employees also receive legal benefits in terms of vacations, social security, etc. The work teams are "modules" of 16 people including seamstresses, inspectors and packers. When they fail to meet their minimum garment quota, they have to stay working until it is completed, without additional payment.

When asked if workers can form a union, manager Chehuan argues that there is no impediment, but adds with a smile, "officially there is not." In fact, the manager commented last November to the Dutch journalist Bertram Zagema that he already had all the documents prepared to form a "ghost" union (existing only in name), at the moment when he learned of an effort by the workers to organize, and thus disrupting, with the protection that the law grants to employers, any attempt to form a real and independent union.

At least part of the reasons for locating in San Cristóbal is that its people are still not "bad," Chehuan confessed in another interview. Not like the undisciplined in Acapulco, he might have wanted to add. In 2002 there were serious labor disputes in a plant of the same company, in the port of Guerrero. Acapulco workers demanded better working conditions and the maquiladora responded by closing its doors. To make effective the compensation to which they are entitled by law, the workers took possession of the raw material, the machinery and even the industrial warehouse itself. But unfortunately everything was in the name of third parties, nothing was from the company that owed them. Again, with the impudence allowed by the law, the company left the workers on the street, and moved the machinery to San Cristóbal, precisely to the warehouse that at that time was being fitted out for Trans-Textil, at the expense of the taxpayers from the country.

Products and destination

When TTI opened its doors in April 2002, it was manufacturing export sweaters. Now, due to the restructuring of the entire industrial complex of which it is part, TTI receives in San Cristóbal pieces of T-shirts from affiliated plants in Puebla and Tlaxcala. TTI workers sew the parts together to assemble the complete shirt, at the rate of 200,000 shirts per month, a goal that is supposed to grow to one million after three years.

The shirts go 95% to the US market, and are sold by department stores such as Sears, Target, Wal Mart, J.C. Penny. The shirts carry "prestigious" brands that are fashionable in the US market, such as Tommy Hilfiger, a house with which TTI has important contracts.

It is essential to do the following calculation: each module of 16 people has to take out 1,500 shirts per day, that is, almost 94 shirts per worker. Which means that a worker with her minimum wage earns 43 cents (4 US cents) for each shirt produced at Trans-Textil. A "Tommy Hilfiger" T-shirt does not sell for less than $ 20 in the United States, which is 500 times what the worker was paid for it. In an investigation done on the textile industry that produces t-shirts, Alisa Solomon found that "the owner of the factory and the distributor get the largest parts" of the final price paid by the buyer. He adds "as merchandise moves […] to department stores, discount stores and prestigious boutiques, the high costs of adhering to a fashion brand and advertising drive up prices, but also profits. Thus, the executives and shareholders in the garment industry are getting richer, with the coverage of free trade agreements, friendly to corporations. "(6)

The owner

Who is the great beneficiary of all this? His initials, KN, one meter high, are engraved in low relief on the facade of the Trans-Textil plant in San Cristóbal, that is, Kamel Nacif, Mexican of Lebanese origin (full name Jose Kamel Nacif Borge), the powerful and wealthy "king of jean". Nacif has a textile empire in Mexico, the United States and Hong Kong, and the maquiladora in San Cristóbal is a relatively small piece in its entire industrial complex, known as the Tarrant Apparel Group (TAG). TAG has only seven maquiladoras in Tehuacan, Puebla, a plant in Puebla that produces 18 million meters of denim per year, another huge plant (420,000 square meters) for textile processing in Puebla, as well as offices in China, Thailand, Korea. , New York and Los Angeles. (7)

Aggressive and arrogant, despotic in his treatment, according to newspaper reports and from people who have approached him, he carries several cell phones with him, issuing orders to his entourage while smoking his cigar. But he is sullen and short of word before a crowd. Formally, Nacif is another employee of Tarrant Mexico, in which years ago he received an annual salary of one million dollars. Then in 2000 his annual salary was reduced to US $ 250,000, but with the right to buy an additional million shares of the company at reduced prices.

Researchers in Puebla of the Human and Labor Rights Commission of Valle de Tehuacan A.C. They have found that Nacif works alongside the powerful Guezduena family of Sasson Jeans in the eighties. TAG's main strategy, says the CDHLVT, is the "complete package" or vertical integration, that is, not only do they assemble jeans or T-shirts, but they produce the textile, cut it, assemble it - sewing and other steps, wash it or they are given fashionable finishes ("sand blasting" a finish that looks "worn"), packaged and delivered directly to large retail consortia in the US. "The worst thing the researchers say is that this form of integration means, in addition to labor exploitation, an enormous danger to the water resources from where they settle due to the finishing processes." (8)

Apart from his textile empire, the press in Mexico and the United States record that Kamel Nacif is one of the world's high rollers. In Las Vegas, players who risk millions are nicknamed "whales," and Nacif is one of the largest whales in the history of that city. There he has been known for more than 30 years, when, still a teenager, he arrived in Las Vegas with forged identification to be able to gamble before reaching the 21 years required by law. He is also known as one of the gamblers who built the Caesar’s Palace Hotel, with the money lost on gambling. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Nacif leaves between 4 and 5 million dollars in deposit. His favorite game is baccarat (or baccarat), and he is able to bet the maximum limit allowed by the casino on each spin, about US $ 160,000. That is, with the equivalent of what Nacif throws on the plush bacara table in a single bet, it would be enough to pay all the debts that the different companies of San Cristóbal have claimed for a year for goods and services provided to Trans-Textil, but never liquidated.

In the midst of his usual shouting, rudeness and blows to other players at the Las Vegas tables, in 1993 Nacif was arrested and imprisoned in that city, but not for his rudeness, because in the casinos whales are allowed everything . He was arrested on an arrest warrant issued in Mexico, accused of tax evasion. But Nacif spent little time separated from Las Vegas, since Mr. Jack Binion, owner of the Horseshoe Casino, took out of his wallet the 2 million dollars set to achieve the bail of this Mexican-Lebanese whale, and then loaned him another $ 4 million to continue his love of the game. According to the Chicago Tribune, the loan "was a calculated personal risk with which [Binion] hoped to ingratiate himself with Mr. Nacif ... [and] the strategy worked: Nacif then bet on the Horseshoe in Nevada and lost about $ 13 million ". (9)

While Mexican authorities later dropped the accusations against Nacif, it was not enough to allay the Nevada State Gaming Oversight Board's suspicions that Nacif was involved in illicit activities such as drug and weapons trafficking, and money laundering. Years later, he was identified as one of the major debtors of the Mexican banks, then intervened, after the economic crisis of 1995 that revealed the fraud committed by the national bank, by lending to clients of dubious reputation. With the 50 million dollars that Nacif allegedly owes to the banks, "it represents one of the strongest losses in the bank rescue" (10) and could be one of the great beneficiaries of FOBAPROA and IPAB. Press reports until the end of 2002 reported that Nacif still did not pay its millionaire debt to the banks.
In Mexico all this is known, but the authorities turn a blind eye. In 1998 Nacif arrived with other textile businessmen at the Los Pinos presidential house to thank President Ernesto Zedillo for the support given by the federal government to the textile sector. In this administration, Nacif has been very close to the Fundación Vamos México of Marta Sahagun, Vicente Fox's wife.

In addition to its companies located in the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala, the textile heart of Mexico, and its satellite in San Cristóbal, Nacif has at least one other maquiladora near Chetumal, in the south of the state of Quintana Roo, also a T-shirt factory. At first glance, these maquiladoras have little economic sense, located in not very strategic points of the country, with little infrastructure and trained personnel, far from the main, perhaps only, export market, the United States. There are factors in favor, certainly, those already mentioned of incentives, low wages, a workforce without union experience, etc.

But even so, the location of maquiladoras in the extreme southeast of the country does not seem to have strong economic fundamentals. In fact, the response from companies has been poor. Despite the occasional inauguration of a plant, there is no strong business response. The Kamel Nacif maquiladoras in San Cristóbal and Chetumal seem to be the exceptions rather than the rule.

But the puzzle is assembling. In February 2002 it was learned that Kamel Nacif had paid 12.1 million dollars for the Condohotel Dunas, in Cancun, in order to venture into the hotel industry. According to "La Revista" of Quintana Roo, "the location of the land could not be better: next to the current Marriot Casa Magna hotel, in the second phase of the hotel zone. It is known that the Double Tree hotel chain, owner of 256 lodging centers in the United States, is interested in the operation of the new Dunas ". (eleven)

For some analysts, the connection between maquiladoras, hotels, proximity to Vamos México, his past as a major league gambler, suspicions about his participation in drug trafficking and money laundering, points to a possible squaring of the circle: more than A well-founded business decision, the maquiladoras in the southeast of the country are agreements between Mr. Nacif and President Fox, who was urged to demonstrate the results of his various programs such as the Plan Puebla - Panama, or the March to Development. Nacif is a gambler, a gambler by nature. If there is a little investment to be made in a project of the country's president, and in exchange to be able to influence the circles of power, the San Cristóbal and Chetumal maquiladoras could be an insignificant investment, and the reward great. The jackpot would be nothing less than a concession to operate a casino in his newly acquired hotel in the Cancun hotel zone.

Because the most attractive business, most economically profitable and with millionaire profits, are not the t-shirt maquiladoras, but the game. The Mexican Congress has debated for years, and is still being debated, the legalization of "gambling", or rather the re-legalization of it, since it existed in Mexico until President Lazaro Cardenas prohibited it in the 1930s. But now there are great interests behind its restoration in the country, including an "important group of Mexican businessmen, led by the National Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Concanaco) and the National Association of Hotels and Motels, which personally, and through lobbying companies such as the Political Strategy Group, they work in favor of the legalization of gambling in Mexico. On this side are the governors of Quintana Roo, Joaquín Hendricks Díaz, and Guerrero, Rene Juárez Cisneros […], who directly, together with their officials and the federal legislators of their states, they lobby for the establishment of casinos. " (12)

Ultimately, Mr. Nacif's gamble is relatively less risky. If the bet fails, the maquiladoras can be closed and their machinery transferred to another location without major problem, as was the case with the equipment that arrived in San Cristóbal from the disassembled maquiladora in Acapulco.

International context of the maquiladoras and conclusion

In more global terms, the maquiladora export industry in Mexico is facing changes at the national and global level that could mean the early disappearance of plants such as Trans-Textil in Chiapas. Apart from the conjunctural moment of secession in the United States, recent academic studies (13) indicate that in recent years Mexico has lost part of its competitive advantages in the maquila industry due more to structural factors, related to greater bureaucracy, deterioration of infrastructure, lack of public security, increase in violence, corruption and kidnappings, a trend that will not be easily reversed.

Now China stands out as the main competitor of the Mexican maquiladoras, "since while that country pays salaries 4.5 times lower than Mexico [...], the available workforce exceeds more than 10 times that of Mexico", according to the academics Carrillo and Gomis.

They add:

[…] Given the loss of competitive advantages and the growing presence of countries like China […] in world manufacturing production, it seems inevitable that certain industries will emigrate from Mexico in the near future. Companies that base their competitiveness on low-wage, unskilled labor-intensive processes are rapidly losing their market to these new circumstances. Consumer products for the US market, such as clothing, toys, footwear and electronics are increasingly manufactured in countries such as China. (14)

That is to say, precisely the situation of maquiladoras like Trans-Textil, and the textile maquiladoras installed in Huixtla, Comitan, Villa Flores and Ocozocuautla, Chiapas. In fact, the flight already began in December 2002, Kamel Nacif closed a Tarrant Apparel plant in Tlaxcala, leaving 1,600 people without jobs, one more of the 424 that have closed in Mexico since October 2000, and that have left 250,000 people on the street.

Hence the folly of the neoliberal economic policies followed from the 80s, since neoliberal recipes destroyed the national industry, based on the local market, with chains to Mexican suppliers, and with the resulting positive effect on employment. Neoliberal policies put the emphasis on the supposed low-wage "competitive advantages" of countries like Mexico, to the detriment of a long-term industrial policy that transcends these advantages to create, over time, increasingly sophisticated national production processes. with technology transfer and through the creation of its own technology. Now Mexico faces the worst of all possible worlds, a collapsed national industrial plant, and with the hopes pinned on the maquila that is permanently "on their brands" to move to any other country that rivals the ephemeral "advantage" of having workers bad pay.

"No, Governor Salazar, keep dreaming, the export maquila is not the alternative that we Chiapas want for Chiapas."

Michael Pickard


(1) "The word maquiladora is used to name any factory in Mexico, nationally or foreign owned, that has the authorization of the Mexican government to import and export products under a special regime of tariffs and income taxes. The term often evokes images typical of the first generation of maquiladoras: very large plants along the northern border, owned by transnational companies. However, there is great diversity in the maquiladora sector: from huge subsidiaries of transnational corporations to small companies that export only part of their production under the maquila regime to complement sales in the domestic market. " Taken from "Local conglomerates in global chains: the garment maquiladora industry in Torreón, Mexico", by Jennifer Bair and Gary Gereffi, Foreign Trade, April 2003, vol. 53, No. 4, Mexico, p.343.
(2) The statements by Fox and Salazar come from the website of the Presidency,
(3) Data on the debts provided by some of those affected. Also see La Jornada, February 23, 2003, p.2.
(4) "Nacif plays in taxpayer funds casinos", by David Paramo, August 28, 2002. Available at Personal communication with Amado Avendano.
(5) Information on working conditions provided during interviews at TTI by journalists and academics, including Jessica Roach of the American University, Washington, D.C .; Daniel Nemser, independent researcher affiliated with CIEPAC; and the author, in addition to data provided by CAPISE, San Cristobal.
(6) "Shirts Off Their Backs", Alisa Solomon, Village Voice, December 5-11, 2001, available at
(7) Data available on the Tarrant Apparel Group website,, as well as in documents delivered to the US stock market authorities, also available on the same page.
(8) Personal communication with Martin Barrios, co-author of the study "Tehuacan: from blanket pants to blue jeans", Human and Labor Rights Commission of Tehuacan, A.C.
(9) "Minority Pacts Cloud Binion Casino Bid", report by Douglas Holt and Maurice Possley, Chicago Tribune, June 30, 2000. Additional data on Nacif in Las Vegas is readily available on the Internet.
(10) "Nacif plays ...", Ibid.
(11) "El magno fraude de Dunas", by Elizabeth Martin Lopez, La Revista, April 1997, available at
(12) "National and foreign investors seek control of casinos in Mexico", by Armando Alcantara Esteves, undated, at
(13) See the number on "The new maquiladora" of Foreign Trade, April 2003, vol. 53, no. 4, Mexico.
(14) "The challenges of the maquiladoras in the face of the loss of competitiveness", by Jorge Carrillo and Redi Gomis, Comercio Exterior, April 2003, vol. 4, Mexico, p. 327.

* Miguel Pickard Newsletter "Chiapas al Día" No. 339 Center for Economic Research and Community Action Policies Calle de la Primavera # 6, Barrio de la Merced, C.P. 29240 San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, E-mail: [email protected] Web page:

Video: Lesley Batchelor OBE: Brexit u0026 Trade New Ways Of Dealing With Paperwork (July 2022).


  1. Sataur

    I join all of the above. We can talk about this topic. Here, or in the afternoon.

  2. Ulrich

    Completely yeah

  3. Meino

    It is improbable.

  4. Avital

    Yesterday the site did not work, somewhere around 12 o'clock, why?

  5. Zulkit

    I apologize, but in my opinion you are wrong. Write to me in PM, we will handle it.

  6. Kit

    What words ... great, the remarkable sentence

Write a message