A land dispute threatens plans by European-based appliance maker Electrolux AB to build a U.S. $100 million refrigerator plant in Juarez, Mexico.
The Swedish company bought the land, 500 acres near Abraham Gonzalez International Airport in Juarez, from the state of Chihuahua earlier this year and is poised to start construction of a 1.5-million-sq-ft building, the largest industrial building in the state of Chihuahua.
But farmers from the village of San Isidro in the valley of Juarez said the land was not the state's to sell.
The land is the object of a 7-year dispute in federal court between 51 farmers and a group of Juarez developers. The farmers have requested that the land sale be blocked. A Mexico City judge is said to make a ruling, but no deadline has been given.
According to the El Paso Times, Electrolux officials declined to comment but said it didn't change their plans. "Our plans are proceeding for the operation in Juarez. We are moving on schedule," said Tony Evans, a company spokesman. The company is reportedly in the design phase of the project.
Electrolux, which already has a vacuum cleaner plant in Juarez, wants to start production in 2005 to produce 1.2 million refrigerators a year by 2006. The company's investment is the second-largest ever made in the state, after the Ford Motor Co. plant in Chihuahua City.
Chihuahua state representatives said the state is the rightful owner of the land since 1951. They said they gave it to a semi-independent outfit, the development company for the Chihuahuense industry, which sold it to Electrolux. (El Paso Times)
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