La Mujer Obrera

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Noticieros Televisa 17-Nov-2010

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 at 4:08 am

Mujeres fronterizas levantan huelga de hambre en la Casa Blanca

WASHINGTON, Estados Unidos, nov. 17, 2010.-  Un grupo de 11 mujeres fronterizas, nacidas en Ciudad Juárez, refugiadas en El Paso, Texas, concluyó este miércoles una huelga de hambre frente a la Casa Blanca, en demanda de un plan de desarrollo económico en áreas pobres de El Paso, Texas, que contribuya a frenar la violencia.

Como desde hace 10 días, cuando llegaron a apostarse frente a la Casa Blanca, las mujeres portaron sus carteles en demanda de justicia social, ante la mirada curiosa de miles de turistas que los veían con asombro o indiferencia.

Se reunieron en círculo, oraron y luego firmaron una segunda carta dirigida al presidente Barack Obama. Dieron unos 50 pasos y la entregaron a un oficial del Servicio Secreto con la súplica de que la hiciera llegar al mandatario. El oficial asintió.

Durante diez días, hemos estado frente a su puerta, ayunando y protestando por nuestra invisibilidad dicen las mujeres en una segunda carta dirigida al presidente Barack Obama, que entregaron.

Hemos hecho este sacrificio porque durante mucho tiempo hemos vivido bajo condiciones invisibles, esperando se apliquen soluciones desde hace 30 años.

Las mujeres, -personificación de la mujer mexicana fronteriza, de bajos ingresos, cuya supervivencia demanda de cuando menos dos empleos- se mantuvieron diez días a base de suero y supervisadas por enfermeros voluntarios que monitorearon los efectos del ayuno, el intenso frío y el cansancio de la larga jornada.

Mientras unas ayunaban, otras en su nombre, con apoyo de organizaciones estadounidenses, se entrevistaron con funcionarios de la administración, que les prometieron la visita de funcionarios federales a El Paso,Texas, próximamente para analizar acciones futuras que impulsen un crecimiento sostenido de áreas extremadamente pobres de la región Ciudad Juárez-El Paso, generen empleos y con ello, terminen la tentación de los jóvenes a trabajar con el crimen organizado.

La huelga de hambre terminó, como había comenzado, con un ritual religioso, oraciones y declaraciones de cada una, expresando satisfacción por los resultados, seguidas del corte de una pieza de pan bendecida que constituyó su primer alimento tras el largo ayuno.

Descansaron sobre las bancas del parque Lafayette, frente a la Casa Blanca, mientras un intenso viento hacia bailar miles de hojas secas, doradas, que se desprendían de los árboles.

Luego iniciaron el proceso de comer poco a poco caldo de pollo y verduras, lentamente.

Con vidas ligadas a la violencia, de la que no quieren hablar, algunas mujeres cargan el dolor de haber visto el reclutamiento de sus hijos para pandillas o crimen organizado, por lo que ellas luchan con todas sus fuerzas, para disipar esa pesadilla y abrir un futuro de esperanza para sus hijos.

“Se quiere ver a nuestros hijos con una imagen de criminales”, dice Lorena Andrade, “pero ellos son buenos, lo que ocurre es que algunas veces se toman medidas por desesperación, por eso queremos oportunidades de estudio y desarrollo para ellos”, acota.

Satisfechas de sus logros, las mujeres se prepararían mas tarde para iniciar el retorno a El Paso, Texas, y el reencuentro con las familias por las que han emprendido esta lucha.

“Esto es sólo el inicio de una lucha con la que estamos comprometidas”, dice Rubí Orozco, vocera de la organización “La Mujer Obrera”, que les apoya en la lucha y “no descansaremos hasta en tanto no logremos la meta de reconstruir nuestras comunidades y ver una realidad el sueño de desarrollo sostenible que nos permita vivir dignamente, con oportunidades de educación para los jóvenes, culturales, de salud y nutrición para adultos, agricultura local y comercio”.

 

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Ms. Foundation for Women – 18-Nov-2010

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 at 3:58 am

Congress: Listen to Women on Immigration Reform

For those of us who believe comprehensive immigration reform means something other than “build a bigger fence” (oh, and electrify it, if you can),an editorial published in the New York Times this week is enough to run a chill right down your spine.

On Monday, the paper of record used a little of its editorial space to speak out on what it perceives to be a disaster-in-waiting as the Republicans assert control of the immigration agenda in the House of Representatives. Led by Congressmen Lamar Smith of Texas and Steve King of Iowa — both of whom are ardent supporters of overturning the 14th Amendment (the one that grants citizenship to those born on American soil), and one of whom has come out strongly in favor of racial profiling (which, as the Times editorial hastens to remind us, is illegal) — the new powers that be on immigration reform appear to be dead set on pushing for draconian and downright inhumane measures to deal with undocumented immigrants.

As the Times notes:

If [Republican] legislation looks anything like their campaign ads, there will be no way for illegal immigrants to get right with the law and no real solution to the problem of illegal immigration. Just a national doubling-down on enforcement, with still more border fencing and immigration agents, workplaces locked down, and states and localities setting police dragnets on what always was — and still ought to be — federal turf.

That hard-line approach mocks American values. It is irresponsibly expensive. It is ineffective.

More fences? More questionable methods for deporting people? More federal spending on tactics that are inhumane and known not to work? It boggles the mind — and the House is not alone in allowing reactionary sentiments to guide its policy making here. The Times also points out that every Republican on the Senate Judiciary committee, “signed a letter last month to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, accusing Immigration and Customs Enforcement of ‘a lax approach’ for focusing more on dangerous criminals than on those with minor or no criminal records.”

While conservatives keep themselves busy chastising other public officials and finding ways to spend money we don’t have, numbers of organizations working at the grassroots level doing the hard work of producing real, viable solutions to our immigration issues.

Take the women of La Mujer Obrera, who have staged a hunger strike outside the White House to convince our government to invest in long-term economic development, not electrified fences, in border areas. They know that jobs, along with vocational and educational opportunities, provide a much more effective type of border security than increased militarization ever could; they’re working to combat poverty and crime by providing women — who now make up more than half of the US immigrant population — with the economic security they need to ensure real security on the border.

If the new leaders on immigration in the House are looking for real solutions rather than reactionary strategies, they would do well to take a cue from La Mujer Obrera and other women’s organizations that are leading the fight at the grassroots level. These organizations know what their communities need — and they’ll need our support if they’re going to be able to make a difference in the face of this new, conservative leadership in the House.

Read the Times editorial. Watch the video below. And then pledge to help us lift up the voices and visions of women who are organizing for change — on the border and everywhere.

Border Women Workers No Longer Invisible

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 9:13 am

The efforts of border women to educate policy makers and federal department officials about the deep poverty as well as economic development initiatives of border communities has resulted in  a more complete discussion about border issues, which had traditionally focused on immigration, violence, and ‘security.’

Border women at La Mujer Obrera are an example of a community rebuilding itself from the damaging effects of international trade policies, economic abandonment, and the war on drugs. We believe investing in the vision of border women workers for their communities will provide meaningful future for multiple generations of border residents and, ultimately, genuine economic security. As one supporter said during a welcome gathering at Mercado Mayapan: “Educate a women, and you educate a whole family.”

As a result of the women’s efforts, an inter-agency work group has been formed and begun to assess border issues, and El Paso Congressman Silvestre Reyes elevated the level of attention for the Southwest Border Regional Commission through the letter below,  which he sent to President Barack Obama this past Friday.

November 19, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

As you work toward finalizing your Fiscal Year 2012 budget, I would like to urge you to include funding for the Southwest Border Regional Commission (SWBRC).

Authorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Southwest Border Regional Commission was created to help address the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed areas along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. This new federal-state regional Commission, which is modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), will target new resources to promote wealth generation as well as economic growth strategies and projects within the four-state region. These efforts will focus on leveraging the public, private, and philanthropic resources needed to improve and sustain the border area. The Commission would develop the necessary building blocs for economic competitiveness which include: transportation and basic infrastructure; entrepreneurial and job skills training; advanced technologies and telecommunications; and sustainable energy solutions. In FY09, the SWBRC was authorized to receive $30 million. However, to date, the SWBRC has not received funding.

In addition, I also respectfully request that you move to appoint a chair for the Commission and direct the various departments with lead roles in the SWBRC (the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Labor, and Education) to establish an inter-agency working group. The group would visit cities like El Paso, Texas on the Southwest border, meet with stakeholders relevant to the work of the SWBRC, and identify critical needs and projects in the border region.

I appreciate your consideration of these requests and look forward to continue working with you on issues pertaining to the Southwest border.

Sincerely,

Silvestre Reyes

Member of Congress

MEDIA ADVISORY

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 5:58 am

After 10 Days, Border Women to End Hunger Strike

‘The Shroud of Invisibility Has been Ripped Apart’


Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R87ahDS8F0M

For Immediate Release                         November 16, 2010

Contact: Rubi Orozco
November 16, 2010(915) 203-0022
media@mujerobrera.org
lamujerobrera.wordpress.com 

Washington, D.C. – Eleven women living in the U.S.-Mexico border, the  most impoverished region of this nation, launched a hunger strike in  front of the White House November 8, 2010, at noon, to call attention  to economic conditions in the region and grassroots development  efforts led by women’s organizations. On Wednesday, November 17, at  11:00 the women will make the final action of the hunger strike,  followed by a closing ceremony in front of the White House, leading up  to the women’s first bites of solid food at noon and a press conference.

The U.S.-Mexico border, poorer still than Appalachia, has been  economically abandoned for centuries, most recently as a result of  international trade agreements, border security initiatives,  anti-immigrant sentiment and the war on drugs. But border women are  not victims; they are rebuilding their communities with dignified  courage. They are exercising the right to determine their own destiny  and work towards the meaningful development of their communities to  improve the quality of life of their children and grandchildren.

The border women, many of them mothers and grandmothers, fasted in  front of the White House to call on our country’s leaders to  acknowledge: that the border region is the most impoverished in the  nation; that it parallels Appalachia in its concentrated poverty  spread across state lines; and that it warrants meaningful attention  by federal agencies and private resources, so that future generations  of border residents can enjoy an improved quality of life.

They are calling for development that is led by the community itself,  based on family and community needs such as education for youth and  adults, culturally appropriate nutrition and health education, local  agriculture, and fair trade with our brothers and sisters across the  border.

A full press statement from the women will be posted November 17 at  noon EST.

  • WHAT: Border women final action and breaking of hunger strike.
  • WHERE: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in front of White House.
  • WHEN: Hunger strike lasted 24 hours each day as of November 8 at noon. Closing actions start at 11 a.m., November 17.
  • Press Contact: Rubi Orozco. 915-203-0022. media@mujerobrera.org  facebook.com/mujerobrera   twitter.com/MujerObrera
  • Petition to President Obama: http://www.petition2congress.com/2/3639

Text of Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama Delivered November 15

November 15, 2010

First Lady Michelle Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington D.C. 20500

Dear First Lady,

We, border women workers, bear witness to the vision, integrity, and commitment you have displayed towards women’s and family issues in health, development, and education. We appreciate that a woman of your caliber is in the White House, providing insight and leadership for the women of our nation, and the world.

We ask that you or your representative meet with us immediately, because 30 minutes of your time will have profound impact on the potential opportunities and futures of women, their families and their organizations in the border region.

We are women living in the U.S.-Mexico border, the most impoverished region of this nation – poorer still than Appalachia. Our communities have been economically abandoned for centuries, most recently as a result of international trade agreements, border security initiatives, anti-immigrant sentiment and policies and the war on drugs. But we are not victims; we are rebuilding our communities with dignified courage. As women, we know we have and are exercising, the right to determine our own destiny and work towards the meaningful development of our communities to improve the quality of life of our children and grandchildren.

For eight days we have been at your door, fasting to protest our invisibility. For too long we have lived with the invisibility of our conditions, as well as the solutions we have been implementing for 30 years. We can no longer afford to be invisible, for the sake of our people.

When President Kennedy toured Appalachia in the 1960s, he was deeply moved by the dire poverty of its residents and quickly moved to support the Appalachian Regional Commission (arc.gov), charging it with lifting Appalachian residents out of poverty by investing in community health, education, development, and energy projects.

We call on our country’s leaders to acknowledge what the data shows: that the border region is the most impoverished in the nation; that it parallels Appalachia in its concentrated poverty spread across state lines; and that it warrants meaningful attention by federal agencies and private resources, so that future generations of border residents can enjoy an improved quality of life.

For too long we were treated as machines, as part of the garment factories that dotted our cities. We do not see development as the next set of factories that will come to our communities and pollute it while using us for cheap labor. We want development that is led by the community itself, based on family and community needs such as education for youth and adults, culturally appropriate nutrition and health education, local agriculture, and fair trade with our brothers and sisters across the border. We consider that to be genuine development, genuine border security.

We have been working to build that already. To date, we have a daycare, café, fair trade import company, and a 40,000 square foot Mexican marketplace all of which integrate the cultural, fair trade, health, and sustainability principles that we want to live by. Our daycare, for example, is bilingual and bicultural; serves food prepared from scratch and rooted in the healthful Mesoamerican diet; and has a vegetable and fruit patch where the children learn about food and caring for the earth.

Everything we do, we do with the intention to nurture our children and grandchildren. That is our bottom line, and it is the reason we – as mothers and grandmothers – sit at your door on hunger strike.

We know there are other women’s organizations such as ours working towards sustainable development of the border. But all of us—the women’s organizations on the border–have been doing it basically alone, fighting against the currents of public policy, media coverage, public sentiment and public and private funding for too long. When virtually all the resources coming to the border region are focused on building walls, placing more agents between us and our families across the border, and enriching security firms that always seem to benefit when there is instability anywhere in the world, our work to provide safe, dignified spaces and jobs where people can develop themselves as human beings becomes not only secondary, but invisible.

We urge you or your representative to meet with us immediately. If you allow us to tell you about our vision, we know we will no longer be invisible. Border women embody a resilience and vision that we know will resonate with you.

We also want to bring you and your staff to our border communities as soon as your schedule allows it. We urge you to have your staff work with us to identify a mutually appropriate time in the near future for such a visit.  Like Kennedy, you will be deeply moved by conditions as well as the grassroots solutions  being designed and developed there.

To arrange for our meeting and your visit to El Paso, please contact us at our cell phone on the hunger strike line 915-478-0823 or email cindyarnold@mujerobrera.org.

With utmost respect,

Border Women Hunger Strike 2010

Text of Letter to President Obama Delivered at Start of Hunger Strike

November 8 2010

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

Today, we, representatives of El Paso women whose families span the US Mexico border and who have experienced first hand the violence, poverty and unemployment engulfing the border region, are launching a hunger strike in front of the White House at noon.

We border women have had enough of the violent tragedy in Ciudad Juarez and the profound poverty in El Paso.   Along with other women on the border, we are creating long term security through grassroots economic development of our communities, which have been dismissed as “unfortunate but necessary casualties” of international trade and immigration policies and the ”war on drugs.”

But our accomplishments and plans are now at profound risk because of a lack of federal investment.

We call on you and your Administration to establish immediate and long-term strategies of community-led development in the nation’s poorest region, the Southwest Border.

Billions have been authorized for jobs benefitting mostly men in the construction industry and border. U.S. transnationals operating maquilas and those seeking to profit from the region’s violence and poverty are reaping millions. Yet the border struggles with persistent poverty (now exceeding 30% of the general population), 10%+ unemployment, and even higher rates for women workers and their families.

In response, we border women have pursued our own version of security and employment, on both sides of the border. La Mujer Obrera’s social enterprise daycare, restaurant, festival marketplace in El Paso and network of artisans in Mexico exemplify border women creating jobs and wanting to break the cycles of poverty and violence.

Furthermore, we and other women’s organizations on the border have extensive plans for comprehensive development including:

  • Creation of jobs and businesses and sustainable community economic development motors
  • Workforce training and life long learning linked to enhanced adult functional literacy
  • Education embedded within a supportive community and family environment for infants through advanced college studie
  • Promotion of, and full access to, comprehensive preventive and primary healtheducation and services
  • Food security that links urban and rural communities, and ties health and nutrition education to access to culturally appropriate affordable local food sources
  • Access to multi-media technology infrastructure and capacity building that bridges the “digital divide” engulfing Latino and low-income families and communities, especially on the border
  • Building and rehabbing affordable housing and community infrastructure,supportive of myriad family and community formats (single family, multi-family, senior, mixed income, etc), but engendering healthy and sustainable family and community dynamics and using cutting-edge sustainable green design and construction strategies
  • Arts and culture that celebrates creativity while nurturing individual and community growth and understanding
  • Civic engagement that underscores the critical linkage between an informed involved populace and a healthy sustainable community development process
  • Diverse modes of transportation that foster communities and promote health and environmental security.

But to achieve these plans and sustain our existing development efforts, an immediate investment  is needed.

Funding for the implementation of the Southwest Border Regional Commission, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, urgently needs to be appropriated.  However we understand the funding challenges that you and Congress  face, after the results of November 2nd elections.

For those reasons, as critical next steps towards that ultimate goal, we seek your immediate action to

1)    Organize a national summit to identify public-private initiatives in support of border women’s efforts to restore their communities from the damaging effects of international trade and immigration policies, and the current “war on drugs”  and  for the eventual implementation of the Southwest Border Regional Commission .

2)    Provide urgently needed economic sustainability support for women and their organizations whose development achievements and future plans are now in jeopardy

Women’s conditions on the border are urgent, and we are demanding justice and equity now.  It’s not just about La Mujer Obrera in El Paso, Texas. This is a struggle by women on the border, and our right to a better future for our community.

Signed,

Lorena

Ana

Maria

Martha

Lupita

Maria

Mariana

Maria

Rosalia

Ana

Blanca

Materials on border conditions, the women hunger strikers and the proposed Border Development Commission available at lamujerobrera.wordpress.com  or upon request.

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Planning for a Border Development Commission

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 5:51 am

Women Workers’ Programs for Development and Security on the Border

Grassroots development initiatives by women on the border are a critical asset to long term security in the U.S, Mexico border; they strengthen the local economy, are designed by the community itself, and utilize holistic approaches that integrate culture, health, education, and housing, among other factors. Despite recent national and international focus on the empowerment of women, development, and border security, border women’s community development efforts have been excluded from meaningful investment. For these reasons, La Mujer Obrera will spearhead a planning effort with other border women development organizations to create a framework for a Border Development Commission that could support sustainable women-centered comprehensive community development on the border. The conditions of women on the border are urgent, and immediate funding is required for these efforts.

Introduction: Well Meaning Funders Missing the Mark

In the past week, the United Nations and the Clinton Global Initiative both underscored the critical importance of investing in development and empowerment of women and girls as a fundamental pathway for communities and countries to achieve prosperity, health and well being. Over $6 billion in commitments were made by public and private entities to achieve these objectives in the coming years.

In the United States, President Obama and Congress are committing billions of dollars to create jobs, promote development and strengthen border security. The Obama administration has established various initiatives dedicated to creating and implementing strong, sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation, and helping to build a clean energy economy.

One border city (El Paso, Texas) received $1.2 million to create a comprehensive plan for growth to make sure roads, schools, health services and the like can accommodate the influx of thousands of soldiers and their families generated by a growing military base.

Through all of these efforts, the goals are to:

  • Integrate economic and workforce development, housing, land use, transportation, green space, arts and culture, education, access to technology and infrastructure development
  • Achieve economic growth, prosperity and revitalization, social equity and inclusion of the most marginalized community sectors in access to opportunity, public health, food access and environmental sustainability, and energy use and climate change,
  • Reduce transportation costs for families, improving housing affordability, saving energy, and increasing access to housing and employment opportunities,
  • Ensure that housing is located near job centers and affordable, accessible transportation,
  • Establish healthier, more inclusive communities – which provide opportunities for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to live, work, and learn together,
  • Build more livable, walkable, environmentally sustainable regions,
  • Create new green jobs, spur economic growth, and
  • Assist regions to become more competitive on a national and global scale.

However, the established planning and development infrastructure in the U.S, such as local and regional government agencies, Community Colleges, School Districts, and Public Housing Authorities does not include women workers. Few resources or policies are being directed towards solutions to problems faced by the women and families whose conditions are worsened by government’s policies, including NAFTA and the “War on Drugs.”

Women workers and their families on the US Mexico border, whose socio-economic indices historically are equivalent to those of many so-called “third world countries”, have not benefitted from these development funds and initiatives. And now with the global economic crisis, and the spiraling violence and disintegration of communities in neighboring Mexico, the conditions and futures of women workers and their families are reaching a desperate state.

Border communities reel with 10%+ overall unemployment, and even higher rates for women workers. Border communities such as El Paso, aren’t creating enough jobs to absorb the unemployed with college degrees, let alone the women workers. However, women workers on the border have not waited passively for someone else to “rescue” them.

Border Women’s Development Efforts: An Untapped Asset

Women workers on the border have worked to lay the foundation for viable plans for creating sustainable livable communities while empowering women and girls, just like those called for by the United Nations, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Obama administration.

By working to achieve their vision of sustainable communities, grassroots organizations of women workers on the border have developed local economic engines that provide meaningful, long-term workforce training and jobs in areas including education, housing, micro-enterprise, childcare, food security, health, and cultural programs. Their work is the stuff that economists, feminists, and social reformers tout as models for genuine community development.

 

A Call to Action for Long-Term Security of Border Communities

For this reason, La Mujer Obrera in conjunction with women workers’ development organizations all along the border seeks an immediate investment of $1.5 million for a year-long effort to:

1)      Develop a comprehensive plan and proposal for a “Border Development Commission” in support of  women workers’ development organizations and efforts on the border and

2)      Organize and help convene a national summit to identify public-private initiatives in support of the Border Development Commission and border women’s efforts to restore their communities from the damaging effects of international trade policies, global economic restructuring and the current “war on drugs” raging on the border.

3)      Provide urgently needed economic sustainability support for women and their organizations whose development achievements and future plans are now in jeopardy because of the lack of investment and political support for border women’s development programs.

With this funding La Mujer Obrera, as one of the oldest and most advanced women workers’ development organizations on the border, will lead the planning effort to create a framework for a Border Development Commission that could support sustainable women-centered comprehensive community development on the border, including strategies for:

1)      Creation of jobs and businesses and sustainable community economic development motors

2)      Workforce training and life long learning linked to enhanced adult functional literacy

3)      Education embedded within a supportive community and family environment for infants through advanced college studies (ala Promise neighborhoods)

4)      Promotion of, and full access to, comprehensive preventive and primary healtheducation and services

5)      Food security that links urban and rural communities, and ties health and nutrition education to access to culturally appropriate affordable local food sources

6)      Access to multi-media technology infrastructure and capacity building that bridges the “digital divide” engulfing Latino and low-income families and communities, especially on the border

7)      Building and rehabbing affordable housing and community infrastructure,supportive of myriad family and community formats (single family, multi-family, senior, mixed income, etc), but engendering healthy and sustainable family and community dynamics and using cutting-edge sustainable green design and construction strategies

8)      Arts and culture that celebrates creativity while nurturing individual and community growth and understanding

9) Civic engagement that underscores the critical linkage between an informed involved populace and a healthy sustainable community development process

10) Diverse modes of transportation that foster communities and promote health and environmental security.

To do so, the funding will support La Mujer Obrera and other women’s development organizations at-risk on the border to continue to operate and grow their current development programs in 2011, and to derive from that experience the proposed framework for the Border Development Commission and its support for comprehensive development.  The funding also will support the women’s participation in organizing a national summit of leading political, philanthropic, business and community leaders to identify funds, policies and other mechanisms that can support the formation of the Border Development Commission and the implementation of the women’s development plans for the border.

Conclusion

Like La Mujer Obrera, there are other communities of low income women on the border, who have the vision and drive needed to create spaces where cultural arts and grassroots micro enterprises can flourish, restoring economy, pride, and dignity in their neighborhoods.  Despite their forward-thinking vision and tireless efforts, the women find themselves fighting their hardest battle ever – sustainability in the weakest U.S. economy in decades and a future being designed without them.

The efficacy and urgency of investing in low-income communities and women’s development efforts has been documented in various studies including Policy Link and theNational Women’s Law Center. Local and national media have focused on border violence and security issues, but have missed the solutions that border women stand ready to implement once they are provided with a meaningful investment.

For these reasons, there is an urgent need to establish a Border Development Commission, and a summit to identify strategies to support and invest in border women workers’ development.    Public-private initiatives need to prioritize border women’s efforts to restore their communities from the damaging effects of international trade policies.

As Gloria Steinem said when she visited La Mujer Obrera, “There is no safe space for women. We have to create that space. We have to build that community”.  The conditions of women on the border are urgent, and action towards justice and equity is needed now.


 

Estallan huelga de hambre 10 mujeres de origen mexicano frente a la Casa Blanca

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 at 5:48 am

Queremos atraer la atención pública y política sobre la importancia de invertir en el desarrollo comunitario de la frontera, porque hay mucha pobreza, desempleo y violencia, dijo Cindy Arnolds, coordinadora del apoyo a las mujeres en huelga de hambreFoto Foto: Notimex

*Financiamiento federal para el desarrollo de las comunidades de la frontera, la demanda

*Sostendrán cinco reuniones con agencias gubernamentales para crear comisión de desarrollo

*Levantarán el ayuno hasta que haya progresos sus principales reivindicaciones, advierten

Periódico La Jornada
Martes 9 de noviembre de 2010, p. 45

Washington, 8 de noviembre. Un grupo de 10 mujeres estadunidenses de origen mexicano se pusieron hoy en huelga de hambre frente a la Casa Blanca para pedir financiamiento federal para el desarrollo de las comunidades a lo largo de la frontera Estados Unidos-México. Queremos atraer la atención pública y política sobre la importancia de invertir en el desarrollo comunitario de la frontera, porque hay mucha pobreza, desempleo y violencia, dijo a Notimex Cindy Arnolds, coordinadora del apoyo a las mujeres en huelga de hambre.

Explicó que el gobierno se ha enfocado exclusivamente a financiar el renglón de seguridad en la región fronteriza, pero nosotras las mujeres decimos que la verdadera seguridad es una comunidad sostenible con una vida digna, enfatizó Arnolds.

Añadió que la organización de mujeres ha enfrentado hasta el momento el problema de desempleo y pobreza en la región al crear fuentes de trabajo, de negocios y vivienda, pero ha sido insuficiente, por lo que subrayó que hay faltan recursos de inversión en una de las zonas más depauperadas del país.

De las 313 zonas metropolitanas en Estados Unidos, en la línea fronteriza se encuentran cinco de los siete centros urbanos más pobres. Se invirte en seguridad y pensábamos que ese dinero causaría impacto en la economía de El Paso, Texas, y que iba a haber empleo para nosotras, pero no ha sido así, señaló Martha Cano, ex empleada de la costura y miembro de Border Women Workers.

Somos mujeres cabeza de familia, nuestra estabilidad económica se terminó con la llegada del Tratado de Libre Comercio, quedamos desempleadas porque se llevaron las fábricas a México, señaló María Yolanda Mancines, ex empleada en los talleres de costura.

Queremos que se nos escuche, señaló María Martínez, otra de la huelguistas, quien manifestó que continuarán el ayuno hasta que haya progresos en sus reivindicaciones.

Según la Comisión de Salud en la Frontera Estados Unidos-México, más de 35 por ciento de la población de la franja fronteriza en Texas vive en la pobreza, mientras las tres ciudades limítrofes en Arizona han sido declaradas zonas de empoderamientoeconómico por el gobierno federal.

Las mujeres insistieron en que aunque no han obtenido respuesta de la Casa Blanca, tienen cinco citas con agencias gubernamentales a realizarse en esta semana, con la finalidad de crear una comisión del desarrollo de la frontera sur del país, con la participación de las mujeres.

Arnolds recordó que la zona de los Apalaches, en Virginia Occidental, y el estado del Kentucky, por sus altos índices de pobreza, han tenido programa de apoyo gubernamental durante 50 años.

Indicó que aun cuando el Congreso aprobó hace dos años una comisión del Departamento de Agricultura para inyectar recursos en la región, el financiamiento nunca llegó.

 

Women Begin Day 4 of White House Hunger Strike Over Border Region Poverty

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6657/women_begin_day_4_of_hunger_strike_in_front_of_white_house/

By R. M. Arrieta

 

Eleven women remain on a hunger strike in front of the White House.

Almost a dozen women from El Paso, Texas, are on their fourth day of a hunger strike in front of the White House.

The women, from the group La Mujer Obrera (LMO), launched the action to do more than just protest the violence and poverty in the Southwest border region. They want the administration to shift away from its sole focus on border security and start paying attention to what local communities can do to boost the economy in the area.

The grassroots nonprofit, founded in 1981, works on economic development in the region and advocacy for Mexican migrant women workers (video below). According to press liaison Rubi Orozco, the women plan to strike for one week but are prepared to remain indefinitely, depending on how meetings go with lawmakers and federal officials. A group of nurses from Washington, D.C., has volunteered to check on the conditions of the women throughout the hunger strike.

While billions are being spent to secure the border, La Mujer Obrera underscores the root causes of instability. Orozco told In These Times that long-term community development in communities along the region’s 2,000-mile border is needed to fight poverty there:

We believe border security needs to be balanced. Right now it’s focused on a militarized approach based on fears.

We have money coming to border, building walls and more federal agents. Those are band-aids.

The root causes of instability need to be tackled – which is impoverishment on both sides of the border.

If you want genuine security you need genuine economic security.

Cindy Arnold, support coordinator for the hunger strikers, told La Jornada, that although the women are still waiting for a response from the White House, they have several meetings scheduled with government agencies to discuss the possibility of a community-led development commission for the Southwest border region.  

Appalachian inspiration

They want to it modeled after the Appalachian Regional Commission, established in 1965. The ARC is a federal, state and local government partnership that works for sustainable community and economic development in Appalachia, and is composed of the governors of 13 Appalachian states along with local participation from each state.

Forming a Southwest border region commission modeled after ARC makes sense.

Said Orozco, “We have a large concentrated poverty region covering different states along a 2,000-mile border. We need an interagency of several states to bring these communities a better quality of life and not impose outside development.”

Four U.S. states span the border between the U.S. and Mexico: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The Mexican states are Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. There are 42 border crossings along the border.

The women want to call attention to solutions that they are creating along the border, built “with our sweat and tears,” Orozco said. “Here in front of the White House, they can’t ignore us,” hunger striker Lorena Andrade told the El Paso Times.

La Mujer Obrera empowerment

During the past few years the nonprofit La Mujer Obrera has renovated four abandoned garment factory buildings. In the buildings is a development program for women workers, a daycare center, a marketplace and a restaurant to help women break free of poverty and domestic violence.

But lack of financial support is putting the program in jeopardy.

Their marketplace in El Paso, Centro Mayapan, opened 18 months ago and has a Fair Trade import company called Lummetik Trading Company, operated by the women and showcasing work created by women artisans in Mexico. Centro Mayapan is a traditional indoor market that offers and artisan crafts, fresh groceries, dried goods, and a food court that serves food representing various regions of Mexico.

“This creates jobs and training for women in Mexico and ensures that their communities are stable. This way women don’t have to migrate to find work,” said Orozco.

“We want to bring public and political attention on the importance of investing in community development,” said Arnold.

One of poorest regions in country

According to LMO’s position paper, El Paso and other border states have suffered severely because of NAFTA and global economic integration, with more than 35,000 jobs moved to countries with lower wages.

Arnold said the government has focused solely on buffering security at the border, but that “we women say true security is a sustainable community and a dignified life.”

Of the 313 metropolitan areas in the U.S., five out of the seven poorest urban centers are in the Southwest border region. The Interagency Task Force on the Economic Development of the Southwest Border, found unemployment rates in the region often reach as high as five times the national unemployment rate.

“We don’t want outside industries to come and then leave when they find cheaper labor,” Orozco said. “We want something future generations will have.”


In Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 at 1:28 am


In Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 at 1:21 am


Plan Mayachén: “Oasis in the Desert”

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 at 1:19 am

An Example of a Community-Led Economic Development Plan designed by Border Women Workers


Plan Mayachén  is a development plan rooted in building on the traditional assets of the women, their families and the community (their cultural heritage, work ethic, work experience and strong sense of family) to create sustainable economies and communities.

Plan Mayachén integrates the strengths and assets of the women workers and the community to build a bottoms up development plan for the low-income rural colonias and urban barrios of El Paso County and   Southern New Mexico.

It is also a development plan based on the centuries-old tradition of commercial and cultural exchange amongst indigenous communities, and later the trade routes and villages established all along the Rio Grande River.

Plan Mayachén grew from recognition of the growing Latino population in the United States and the potential of the El Paso border region to generate a national model for comprehensive economic development alternatives that target Latinos and others interested in Latino markets.

Plan Mayachén also responds to the growing U.S. demand for products, services and entertainment rooted in the Mexican heritage.  Plan Mayachén has been designed to explore, pilot and build on the emerging Mexican Cultural Heritage Industry at the national level and its potential linkages to the global economy.

Thus, as a fulfillment of the sustainable communities model underscored by the Obama administration, Plan Mayachén includes :

1. Development Infrastructure

a.     Community Development Patient Capital Fund (access to capital)

b.    Center for Bilingual Development and Social Enterprise (adult educational and workforce development)

c.       Multi media Training and Development Center (access to technology)

d.    Pre-Development Funds for Next Stages of Plan Mayachén projects

2. Stepping Stones to Plaza Mayachén

a.     Rayito del Sol Charter School (infant through high school education)

b.    Milpa Mayapan (Urban Agriculture demonstration farm—healthy local food economy)

c.      Farmers Market and Mobile Community Market stands (urban/rural interconnections)

d.    Eating Healthy, Estilo Mexicano Tradicional (nutrition education and food economy)

e.     Lum Metik Trading Company E-commerce center (international importing, shipping and distribution facility in collaboration with women, businesses and communities in Mexico)

f.        Mercado Gardens (commercial/office units combined with affordable housing and green space)

3. Plaza Mayachén: a motor for community economic development

In a six block area central to the Chamizal neighborhood, the border and Downtown El Paso, visitors and residents will enjoy shopping and a wide variety of seasonal activities and events at Plaza Mayachén:  restaurants and cafes; shops with quality merchandise from Mexico, local artists, and crafts people; a farmers’ market; bilingual exhibits, concerts, films and other recreational events; cultural celebrations; education and training activities; opportunities for applied research on Mexican heritage and the United States-Mexico border region.

By La Mujer Obrera’s providing a site for these new businesses and community activities, Plaza Mayachén will become a powerful engine for economic opportunity in South Central El Paso and an exciting location of bilingual/bicultural experiences and dialogues for the entire region.

It also will serve as a hub to catalyze sustainable community economic development through:

  • business incubation (microenterprises, social enterprises and small businesses)
  • job creation
  • workforce training
  • community access to technology
  • Arts and culture showcasing Mexican heritage and history on both sides of the border
  • Environmentally responsive land use and development

Its components will include:

  • Mercado Central (comprehensive grocery and daily needs store, based on traditional Mexican market model)
  • Mercado Popular (retail outlet and business incubator for authentic artisan products of Mexican cultural heritage produced on both sides of the border)
  • Disenos Mayapan (a commercial district providing local artists, artisans, designers and light manufacturers with work space and access to markets)
  • Museo Mayachén
  • Plaza Cultural (an outdoors central park and performance center)
  • Mayachén Performing Arts Center
  • Tourism center (connecting and supporting cross border exchanges and travel)

·    Facilities for producing and distributing Mayapan Label and Line of Food Products (salsas, mole, tortillas, pan dulce, etc)

Through the implementation of Plan Mayachén over the next 10-20 years, we expect the following impacts:

Investment in Land/Facility Costs:  $100 million

Investment in Start-up Costs: $50 million

Revenues generated: $10 million/year

Jobs to be created: 5000

Businesses Developed: 100

Workforce Training: 300 adults/year

Education: 300 children/year ages infant through college

Community Support Services: 5,000/year

Customers/Participants: 100,000/year

Plan Mayachén is the women workers’ blueprint for forging a future for themselves and their families, rooted in the dignity of their heritage and lives and enabling them to provide inspiration, leadership, and resources for a border-wide sustainable development.