Mexican Army charge fees to workers at the Felipe Angeles Airport in Santa Lucia

Photo: (Lopez Doriga)

Workers who are building the new airport explain how soldiers in charge make them sign a payment that is not; In addition to the pressure to end in 2022 increases accidents and deaths

Mexico City, September 08, 2021, (El Universal) .- Juan Manuel has worked non-stop at the Megaobra Felipe Angeles International Airport, located at the Santa Lucia Military Base since President Andrés Manuel López Obrador gave the Flag.

Although his family lives in Tecámac -The municipality where the construction is located – he rarely comes to see them for the spacious days and to complete his expenses with extra hours.

He, like hundreds of his companions, come from the ancient megaproject of the new Mexico International Airport (NAIM), driven by Ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto. have stated that military officials of the Mexican Army are charging the between 20% and 30% of their salaries if they want to keep the job.

The witness preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, He also said that a large number of construction workers are living in small shared houses with mattresses on the floor, with no chance of bathing daily and making a meal a day.

“You gain 1,700 pesos a week, you give a thousand to the family and survive with 700,” exposes the interviewee, who claims that the goal is to finish the work in a matter of months because the President wants to inaugurate the airport in early 2022.

According to the witness, this has led to some of his co-workers having accidents and not being properly medically attended, as they were not providing subsequent rehabilitation therapy after cases of trauma and other serious injuries.

Testimonials of former employees point out that construction workers of the Santa Lucia International Airport are living in precarious, unhealthy conditions, receiving a ridiculously low salary, and are charged between 20% and 30% of that salary, by the military officers, if they want to keep their job, a level of corruption not seen before (not even in Mexico).

The witnesses also related that the conditions of housing are unhealthy and that they are being forced to work at full speed because the project has to be inaugurated in 2022, This rhythm of work has put them at risk of death and accidents have occurred by the dozens.

Documents from the National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) via the Transparency Law, make reference to the six deaths that have been accounted for during the period from December 1, 2018, to June 1, 2021. With one more fatality on August 17th.

A total of 59 accidents have been registered in 19 months at the Megaobra, a monthly average of 3.4 accidents.

People who come from differentMexican states stand in line for hours at the entrance of Santa Lucia airport waiting to get a job.

The Secretariat of National Defense declared that 95 thousand 998 jobs have been generated by the Megaobra.

Another anonymous witness stated that contracts are made in accordance with the needs in the progress of the project. You must conclude a first stage of the contract in order to stay at the Megaobra.”

When asked about military officials taking 30% of the worker’s salary as a fee to keep the job, the SEDENA did not answer.

Payments and Fees

Every week, dozens of people arrived to be trained to seek employment. They stand in line at the main entrance with official papers in hand and expecting to get lucky enough to get a job: “They come from Hidalgo; Toluca, the State of Mexico, and from the state of Puebla, ” refers another former employee.

In the case that they are hired, it is practically a requirement to live close to the construction site because the working day begins at 8 o’clock in the morning. That is why all the workers have to live in improvised homes with minimum basic services. 50 square meter houses are shared by a large number of people.

Since the work began, the surroundings of Saint Lucia have become a small colony of workers who hardly leave the area, except on Saturdays when the day ends at 2:00 p.m.

According to the testimonies, a master mason has to pay some 2 thousand 700 monthly pesos, while an assistant has to pay about 1,700 pesos. Women working at the Megaobra are receiving an even lower salary and according to witnesses they are also forced to pay a percentage of their salary.

The majority has affiliation to the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), so the workers involved in accidents are taken to the Regional General Hospital 200 of the IMSS, in Tecámac, State of Mexico, just a few kilometers away from the construction site.

Workers who have professional studies, such as engineers, are assigned in positions of head of headquarters with a payment of 12 thousand pesos per month; However, they consider that they end up working on more time because they end up carrying out more activities that are not on their contract, and are no in their faculties or professional experience.

An average worker who lives inside Tecámac, according to the sources, should at least spend about 60 pesos daily, which would include its passage, as well as a 25-peso meal that sells the army cooking service. However, those are the conservative figures for those who live between about three to five kilometers around.

For those who come from longer distances, some 10 to 20 kilometers (or more), the minimum daily expense means about 100 pesos. For that reason, most workers prefer to bring a lunch prepared from home to save that expense or rent in the area.

One of the witnesses says that he used to make three times the salary he makes here working at the NAIM construction site back in 2018, and adds that “In Santa Lucia you have to work at full speed for a lower salary”.

The workers are paid by the Mexican Army in cash without giving them a receipt. The only documentation they receive from the administration of the Megaobra is a confidentiality contract.

According to workers, payday is every Saturday, they all stand in line, and receive the cash in envelopes, without a receipt that proves the operation.

Source: El Universal

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