Hunger on the Border
Date: Friday, February 17 2006
Hunger on the Border - An Interview with Julia Quiñones
David Bacon - t r u t h o u t
Today the US/Mexico border is the subject of intense controversy and debate. Most of the fireworks focus, however, on the idea that more enforcement can keep people from crossing the border. Lost in this hysteria is the reality that the border is a huge place, where millions of people live and work. Not only that, but here free trade policies hold down living standards and prevent union and community organizing. That, in turn, produces pressure on people to seek a better standard of living elsewhere.
To explore the real conditions for border workers, David Bacon interviewed Julia Quiñonez, coordinator of the Border Committee of Women Workers, the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras, with offices in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
David: In Spanish, the name of the border committee uses the word "obreras," which means women workers. Why is the name of the committee in the feminine?
Julia: The Comité Fronterizo de Obreras (CFO) is an organization of rank and file women, led by women and men who work in the maquiladoras. The organization was born out of the needs particularly of the young women who work in the factories. In the beginning the industry was especially interested in employing women, and even though this situation has changed over time, we continue to maintain a focus on their experience. We look for a greater level of participation by women, inside their unions and at levels of leadership.
David: What does the Comité do?
Julia: The CFO is working in three Mexican states - Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. Our purpose is to educate and organize workers around their labor rights. We try to engage workers in learning and talking about the impact of free trade, and focus on violence against women. We have a program to build economic self-sufficiency, and we've created our own maquiladora, making products and giving employment for women.