- Cecilia Barria
- From BBC News World
Photos of a new distribution center built by Amazon in Tijuana, Mexico, near the US border, went viral within hours on social media.
For some, it is a perfect picture of the inequalities of capitalism.
Amazon’s gigantic distribution center contrasts sharply with the poverty that surrounds it.
And the irony of having one of the richest and most globalized companies on the planet alongside families who live precariously did not go unnoticed by internet users.
Many on Twitter called the $21 million (about R$110 million) installation “dystopian”, while others said it portrayed “how absolutely perverse capitalism is”.
The debate was triggered by aerial photos taken by photojournalist Omar Martínez.
Martínez, 41, works for the Mexican agency Cuartoscuro and is from Tijuana, on the US-Mexico border.
“I took the photos with the intention of showing the great contrast that exists here in my city. I am happy that my image generated a great debate,” Martinez told the BBC.
He said the photos were difficult to take because the place is “marginalized” and unsafe. The photos were taken from a distance, with a drone.
“It’s next to a sewer channel where there are a lot of bandits and drug dealers. So it wasn’t a very safe place.”
Charmaine Chua, a professor in the Department of Global Studies at the University of California, wrote on Twitter that to better understand what is happening, it is necessary to place the center of Tijuana in the context of the supply chains in which Amazon finds itself.
Chua said the warehouse is not there to supply the local market and that “it will employ overexploited Mexican labor” to sell goods across the border.
She highlighted that the new warehouse is close to the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, through which an important part of the company’s commerce passes.
Since the escalation of the trade war between the US and China, direct trade between the two countries has become very expensive because of tariffs. “The solution? Mexico,” she said.
Spencer Potiker, a doctoral student at the University of California-Irvine who researches logistics on the US-Mexico border, said labor costs are much cheaper in Mexico than in the US.
A worker in the US earns at least $15 (BRL 79) an hour, while in Mexico it’s between $2 (BRL 10) and $4 (BRL 21), he told the BBC.
Amazon’s distribution center in Tijuana “represents global inequality” but also shows “a growing trend in the development of distribution centers on both sides of the border,” he said.
A special report by Reuters pointed out in April that employees at an Amazon distribution center near Mexico City were being forced to work longer hours than required by law and claimed they were forced to resign or were fired after staying. patients with covid-19.
Working conditions in the US are also at the center of the controversy, with the company recognizing last April that some of its drivers had to urinate into plastic bottles to meet tight delivery deadlines.
Disregarding criticism on social networks, the mayor of Tijuana said that the shed will bring development to the area.
Karla Ruiz Macfarland said the investment will generate new jobs and “contribute to economic reactivation and the well-being of families”.
Amazon told the BBC that it is committed to the development of the countries and communities in which it operates.
And he stated that the warehouse in Tijuana is the company’s 11th in Mexico.
“Since our arrival in Mexico, we have created more than 15,000 jobs in the country and now we are adding 250 in Tijuana, creating job opportunities with competitive salaries and benefits for all our employees,” the company said.
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