Unemployment, Call Centers and Maquiladoras

Poverty exists all around the world and it never ceases to astound me. Although much poverty exists in Mexico, our economy is better off than most, if not all, of Latin America. I don’t know the numbers or can’t even tell you if Nicaragua is worse than the rest of Central and South America. I can only tell you what I witnessed. The unemployment rate was ridiculously high even before the world crisis hit and it is not surprising that Nicaraguans lean towards socialist policies and government. The current government was founded on the peasant and working class majority and still heavily relies on them during elections.

As my family and I drove around, I had the opportunity to see several maquiladora factories. According to my cousins, the ones I saw were Asian owned and tended to exploit the uneducated and low income workers. Go figure. I always look for the positive in every situation, so the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “well, at least they are providing jobs that previously did not exist.” The job opportunity never justifies exploitation, but in the overall scheme of things, those are desperately needed jobs no matter how you look at it. Could the wages be higher? Absolutely. Can the government put pressure on these maquiladoras to do so? Claro que sí, but if they do those jobs will disappear in a heartbeat without being replaced. Remember, maquiladoras thrive on low-wages. If they can’t get it in Nicaragua, they’ll pick up shop and go find another country to exploit. Workers know this and as much as I dislike the phrase “something is better than nothing”, most of them will embrace it out of need. Ni modo.

Given the high unemployment rate, I asked my cousins and their friends about their outlook for jobs after they finished their undergraduate studies. They know nothing is guaranteed once that diploma is handed to them. Regardless of the economic state of their country, there is nothing like their beloved Nicaragua. Ajua!

Telemarketing companies from the US are also based in Nicaragua but you must speak fluent English to work there. According to my cousin, they pay about 4 or 5 hundred dollars a month and that is reasonable especially if you’re single and living alone. They kept insisting that I extend my stay while working at one of the telemarketing companies to fund my trip. Could have, should have, but didn’t 🙂

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