Baja California is one of Mexico’s hardest-hit states in terms of the coronavirus, but as numbers continue to spike Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez has made the controversial decision to allow 100 previously shuttered manufacturing companies to reopen as of Monday.
This despite Bonilla’s Facebook post on April 17 urging all nonessential businesses to shut down, and accusing the owners of those who didn’t of “preferring to sacrifice their workers instead of their profits.”
Members of labor unions and social activists took to the streets on Friday, International Workers’ Day, to protest what they called a “criminal decision” which would put 40,000 workers back on the job in the middle of the pandemic.
One protester held up a sign addressed to the governor reading “In BC workers are not disposable.”
Government officials defended the decision, arguing that maintaining the supply chain is essential for Baja California’s economy.
“When this pandemic started, we had 1,725,000 jobs in Baja California,” said Economy and Tourism Minister Mario Escobedo Carignan, who cited a study predicting the coronavirus crisis would cost the state 100,000 jobs. “And our governor said, ‘What if it didn’t? What if we do something about it? What if we get together with companies, workers, and together we fight to keep the jobs and continue the economic growth that we were already experiencing?'”
For example, Escobedo argued, people need to watch television, and for that to happen factories need to produce parts, cardboard companies need to produce boxes to put televisions in. These kinds of factories have become essential, and “we must take care of the supply chain,” he said.
As of Saturday, Baja California had recorded 1,569 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 232 deaths.