MEXICALI, Mexico – Around 100 Mexican activists gathered on Wednesday in the city of Mexicali to mark the re-negotiation of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement by demanding that Mexico increase its minimum wage, currently one of the lowest in Latin America.
The demonstration unfolded at the border crossing between Mexicali and Calexico, California.
Participants said they chose the border to illustrate the connection between low wages in Mexico and Central America and emigration to the United States.
With NAFTA under review, now is time for Mexico to double or triple the minimum wage, Jose Maria Garcia Lara, the leader of Youth 2000 Movement, one of the groups that organized the event, told EFE.
Mexico’s current minimum wage is 80.04 pesos ($4.58) a day.
“We who, as organizations, defend the migrants, know that people have to emigrate because the wages in our country are wretched,” Garcia Lara said.
The Youth 2000 Movement provides financial support to shelters serving Mexican and Central American migrants.
He pointed out that the “community of migrants” includes not only farm laborers and the employees of the mainly foreign-owned assembly plants known as maquiladoras, but workers from virtually every sector of the economy.
The groups behind Wednesday’s demonstration in Mexicali are planning to mount another protest two weeks from now in Tijuana, located just across the border from San Diego, Garcia Lara said.
The activists will also present a formal request to the Mexican government for an increase in the minimum wage.
The fourth round of talks among US, Mexican and Canadian officials on revising NAFTA got under way Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington.