Broken Promise of the Maquilas: A stark look at the exploitation of workers in Nicaragua’s Free Zones
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Nicaragua’s one-time revolutionary Daniel Ortega returned to power on a manifesto of labour rights and power to the people. But a decade on, workers are fleeing horrific abuse inside the country’s factories.
Activist Josefa says Ortega’s 21st century, neo-liberal agenda “promised better, more dignified jobs”. But in the country’s free zones or maquilas – established to encourage foreign investment – “that’s not what happened”. Under Ortega’s leadership, a culture of fear has silenced claims of horrific abuse and maltreatment in the country’s factories. Maria and Ana make textiles for a Korean company inside the free zone. “We put up with humiliation, we put up with many things”, says Maria. Ana, who was electrocuted by faulty machines says “the Korean didn’t want me to go to the hospital, he told me that I just had to relax”. Now Josefa is battling to return to a time when workers “knew our rights – and how to defend them”. Can these women find a voice against the corporate might of global industry?
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