Comité Fronterizo
de Obrer@s

CFO

For the labor rights and all human rights of the maquiladora workers

 
   
   
   
Home> CFO in the Media 2007-08
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Newsletter of the UCC Social Justice Team

Our Community: Bigger Than We Think

By Leah Kolar, SJ Team Prayer Leader

Last weekend I took the Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera (Austin So Close to the Border) trip with the American Friends Service Committee. The trip broadened my view of community. I participated in a delegation of 12 people from the U.S. who traveled to Piedras Negras on an educational trip to learn more about maquiladoras, U.S. factories on the Mexican side of the border.

Leah with two women from the Diginity and Justice Cooperative and their inventory.

We talked to workers in their houses with women organizers from the CFO (in English, the Border Workers Committee), a long-standing grassroots organization dedicated to informing workers about their rights under Mexican labor law. We saw firsthand the conditions in which they lived in the colonias, shantytowns. We shared meals and discussion with organizers and workers. We learned about the stringent conditions in the maquiladoras, the poor wages of the workers and the surprisingly high cost of living facing the families of these dedicated workers.

My favorite part, though, was celebrating Three Kings Day with their families Saturday evening. Their simple love and encouragement got me speaking Spanish despite my hesitation. Four of the workers from Dignidad y Justicia, a women’s fair trade cooperative comprised of women who had been fired from maquila jobs, made the tamales, beans and pozole, our most celebrated feast. We played with their children, and Mexican workers and organizers, their families and us ‘gringos’ shared in discussion, a meal, a celebration.

By the end of the trip, as we shared our reflections about our experience together in a circle, we were struck by how close we had grown. Tears welled up in the eyes of one of the maquila workers as she shared how much it meant to know that some ‘gringos’ really did care. The U.S. delegates too had grown to love these women and their families. Through this love, we celebrated with them as we heard their successes, felt their pain and experienced their despair in the injustices through which they live daily. In short, both Mexicans and Americans found fulfillment in the simple awareness and newly-built solidarity we had created.

Maquilas have an impressive facade in front and a windowless room in back for workers. Most maquilas in Piedras Negras assemble electrical car parts.

It was in community that we found love and fulfillment. Before embarking on this trip, we couldn’t have realized how big our family actually was.

For more info about the ATCF delegation, visit afsc.org/central/austin/EJthree2ndlevel.htm. To buy fair trade items rom the co-op: ethicalgoods.org.

 

 

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www.cfomaquiladoras.org is produced in cooperation with the
Mexico-U.S Border Program
of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO)
Monterrey #1103, Col. Las Fuentes
Piedras Negras, Coahuila
C.P. 26010, México