Mexico to use trade deal to ensure US vaccinates workers

A pharmacist prepares a vaccine shot in the US

Mexico said Wednesday that it would invoke a North American free trade agreement to ensure that the United States vaccinates its workers against the coronavirus whatever their immigration status.

"It's the responsibility of each country to ensure that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, receive the vaccine," Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters.

"Any exclusion of Mexican workers is a violation of the labor rights section of the free trade agreement," he added.

Mexico protested last week after Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was reported to have said that undocumented workers in the state's meatpacking plants, many of them Mexican, would not have access to the coronavirus vaccine.

"It is an undisputable fact that a high percentage of meatpacking workers in Nebraska are undocumented immigrants and many of them are Mexican nationals," the Mexican consul in Nebraska, Guadalupe Sanchez, said in a letter to Ricketts dated January 6.

She said that two-thirds of workers in the industry are undocumented, and 16 Mexicans working in the sector have died due to Covid-19 in Nebraska.

Under pressure from US President Donald Trump, Mexico and Canada renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which was replaced last July by the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Ebrard said that his office would monitor US compliance with the agreement, in particular under the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

jla/dr/jm