By José Arrieta. With 883 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Tijuana is one of the Mexican cities hardest hit by the pandemic. Its border status makes it especially vulnerable, but this weakness is increased by another factor: the dozens of maquiladora companies that, despite the restrictions ordered by the state government, continue to work. Read: Oil prices rise after OPEC + cuts

“The situation in Tijuana is stronger than in Mexico City, because the movement has not stopped despite the way things are. Here people continue to walk, in the streets,” says María, a young woman whose mother, a worker in a factory, was diagnosed with Covid-19. “

People cannot stop because this is a city of maquiladoras, more in the Eastern Zone, where I live; they are subdivisions where most people work in maquiladoras (…) “.

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Although in the current phase of the pandemic, only the factories that produce essential goods should be in operation, in Tijuana, they point out, they continue to operate maquiladoras, the production of which is used to make automobiles or hot tubs.

“I have a friend who was told that they are going to work until the last moment; he feels that they are treated as objects. Companies are hiding their infected so that employees do not get off the hook and continue working, but there is going to be a point where they won’t be able to hide them, “he says.

María’s mother, whose name was changed for fear of retaliation, is one of the thousands of people who work in foreign factories located in Baja California.

In his case, he specializes in the manufacture of parts for medical respirators, used in the treatment of patients with Covid-19.

“About three weeks ago, my mother told me that they were not going to send anyone home, because the factory where she works is dedicated to making a part for fans, and the sale of 11,000 of them had already been advanced. They had work until June and they weren’t going to rest, “he says.

Because production could not stop, the company decided to hire more employees, but, he points out, did not pay attention to health prevention measures.

“She worried because they were recruiting a lot of people, she even told me that they recruited a woman who kept coughing, she looked sick and was there, as if nothing happened,” recalls María.

Weeks later the inevitable happened: her mother became infected with coronavirus.

Recognizing the danger that contagion posed to the work team, the worker’s relatives reported the case to her company. However, the maquiladora’s only action was to relocate the infected employee.

“My mom started having coronavirus symptoms on April 6, although she had already had sore throats a few days before. She thought it was an infection, so she was taking antibiotics and so she was going to work,” she says.

“My dad took her to a private hospital and they told her it was a virus in her throat, but he freaked out and isolated her. We called the IMSS and told them all the symptoms: she had a dry cough, headache, and it made her sick. food, in fact she was not hungry for three days. On Monday night she began to have difficulty breathing and my dad took her to clinic 1 in Tijuana. ”

Upon learning of the diagnosis, María’s father informed the company of his wife’s health situation.

He called Human Resources and they asked him many questions, from where he thought my mother had been infected to his activities, but all he did was go to work and be here at home, “he says.

“A nurse from the company stressed very strongly to my father that if he was contacted by colleagues at work, he would not tell them anything, he even asked him not to answer the phone.”
In the end, the compañeras heard the case, although not from an official report, and they said they were concerned that none of them is in quarantine.

“They only changed the rest day and they continue working normally. I don’t think they can run my mom, but my dad is a little scared,” he says.