La Mujer Obrera

Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

About La Mujer Obrera

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2011 at 11:28 am

ImageIn 1981, displaced women garment workers established La Mujer Obrera to broaden economic and educational opportunities for the South Central neighborhood of El Paso, Texas, particularly displaced women workers and Spanish-speaking community members. Our mission is to improve the economic, social, educational, health and living conditions of low-income Hispanic families, while helping revitalize the former Garment District where many women and their families worked, before global economic restructuring led to the loss of 35,000 jobs, mainly in the garment industry. 


Today, La Mujer Obrera is an internationally acclaimed community-based organization creating cultural and economic development that recognizes Mexican immigrant workers’ heritage and contributions to El Paso. Our efforts to preserve, adapt, and present the diverse historic and living traditions of the Mexican people are integral to fulfilling the most basic needs and uphold the most basic human rights: access to education, work, health, housing and nourishment, the rights to live in peace and participate fully in civil society.

ImageOur mission is thus to develop and use our creative capacity to express the dignity and diversity of our Mexican heritage, from indigenous Mesoamerican roots to contemporary expressions, and to develop and celebrate our community through economic development, community building, and civic engagement. We provide programs to address immediate needs such as English and GED classes, leadership training, and microenterprise opportunities. We also plan for long term needs including the creation of fair and sustainable economic development and strengthening of the local food system.

Our projects include cultural events programming, adult and youth education programming, museum administration, nutrition education based on ancestral knowledge, community organizing, fundraising, promotion and marketing, and more..!

If you are interested in learning more or volunteering, contact Rubi at orozco.rubi [at] To make a tax-deductable donation, click here


Mayapán Farmers’ Market: A Look Back at our First Season

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2011 at 10:24 am

 This year, we learned a great deal about the challenges and joys of running a local famers’ market. This is a venture that requires community support to succeed, and that is why we want to share with our community the highlights as well as the challenges of this year’s experience.
We launched the Mayapán Farmers’ Market on June 4, 2011, and closed for the season on October 30, 2011. Over those five months, we worked with small farmers and local growers, including a couple of community gardeners, to stock the market on a weekly basis.


Increasing Access to Fresh, Local Produce. We were able to offer varied local produce at our food stamp friendly farmers’ market, including tomatoes, zucchini, chili, onion, pumpkin, nopales, and cooking herbs, including epazote, basil, and mint. A total of 20 different local produce items were available at some point throughout the season.

Maximum Utilization of Local Produce. If the farmers did not sell all of their produce directly to customers, we purchased their remaining produce to utilize at the Mercado Mayapán kitchen and at Rayito de Sol Daycare and Learning Center. This way, participating farmers were guaranteed business and we incorporated local produce into our menus.

Nutrition Education Based on Culture.
We combined our effort with nutrition education through cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and recipe distribution featuring local products and ingredients of the traditional Mesoamerican diet. Our Public Health Specialist was a guest on three occasions in the Spanish language radio show, La Comadre with Teresa Fendi, where she discussed the assets of the traditional Mesoamerican diet and promoted nutrition workshops at Mercado Mayapán. Our nutrition education approach based on history, culture, and anthropology as well as public health, garnered much attention, including from the Christian Science Monitor, the International Agriculture and Policy Institute, and the blog, Mahindra Rise.


We learned that our region and community faces many challenges, including the following.

A decline in small family farms.
Based on conversations we had with farmers and food system advocates, our region has experienced a decline in small family farms over the last 15 years. In one case, a local growers’ association that began with fifteen members approximately twelve years ago today has only two members. The primary reason for this decline seems to be that many farmers believed there was not enough demand for local produce and switched to growing only pecans or cotton, instead of maintaining a diverse set of crops that can be consumed locally.  Another major challenge for local farmers is access to water, particularly with the rise of pecan farms in southern New Mexico – one pecan tree can require up to 250 gallons of water per day.

Lack of awareness about the local food system. There is a great need for consumer education about the importance of local foods and supporting the local food system. We put together an exhibit relaying the top 10 reasons for supporting local farmers, but we realize an exhibit alone is not enough to create a lasting awareness. Our staff participated in nutrition and culture workshops, a food sovereignty workshop taught by Carlos Marentes, as well as a discussion about food as a human right organized by our sister organizations – the Sin Fronteras Agricultural Worker Project, Colonias Development Council, and La Semilla Food Center. We look forward to strengthening this type of education by having more workshops and discussions about the food system, as well as field trips to local farms for our staff as well as youth and community groups next year. Increasing consumer awareness about the importance of a strong local food system is important in order to have meaningful participation by community members in food policy decisions that affect us. For example, Congress recently voted to no longer provide WIC Vouchers to small farmers – and this decision might have been prevented by informed advocacy by constituents.

We knew from the start that starting a new farmers’ market would be a challenge. We were and continue to be determined to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for Chamizal neighborhood residents and the rest of our patrons.

We know that together we can reflect on the lessons from this season and work towards an even more successful farmers’ market next year and – with continued education and involvement – an improved local food system in the years to come.

Be a Part of the Solutions We are Trying to Create!

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

On behalf of everyone at La Mujer Obrera in El Paso, Texas, we would like to thank you for your support over the years as we have continued to develop an alternative to the chronic unemployment and abandonment on the U.S.-Mexico border. We hope you’ve had a chance to attend some of our free community events this year at Mercado Mayapán, our traditional Mexican market with fresh foods, fair-trade artisan goods, an active cultural events plaza, and museum.

In 2011, we welcomed El Paso to a Gran Kermes, multiple Tardeadas, a Health Fair, an Art Fair, a Mexican Independence Day celebration and our annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Our three social purpose businesses: Rayito de Sol Daycare and Learning Center, Uxmal Apartments and Mercado Mayapán are part of our economic development model for El Paso. We strive to integrate culture, health, history, and social equity into our ongoing projects. This year we conducted an innovative, culturally-based health fair, nutrition workshops based on the traditional Mesoamerican diet, menu changes at Mercado Mayapán and Rayito de Sol Daycare and Learning Center, and launched the Mayapán Farmers’ Market. This model is comprehensive and has the potential to be self-sufficient amidst the great poverty of the U.S.-Mexico border.

All of our efforts are community-led and implemented, simultaneously creating meaningful jobs for local workers and a beautiful cultural gathering space for the community and tourists alike.  We know we have the capacity and resilience to transition our communities from economic abandonment to vibrant neighborhoods that celebrate and honor our culture, traditions, and health.

In addition to the community development, cultural, educational, and health-related work we have spearheaded at the local level, we have also been steadfast advocates for the U.S.-Mexico border region as a whole. The area encompassed by drawing a 100 kilometer radius north of the U.S.-Mexico border is the most impoverished region of the country. In November of 2010, we went on hunger strike in Washington, D.C. to call attention to the poverty experienced by residents of the U.S.-Mexico border and call for urgent investment in peaceful and productive border development like La Mujer Obrera. This year, we sent a letter to President Obama requesting his administration’s attention to these issues and have been circulating an online petition that has received support from around the world.

We are asking all of our supporters to go above and beyond one more time as we continue to provide a unifying and creative development approach for the entire community. Together, we can improve the economic, social, educational, health and living conditions of low-income workers in El Paso.  Any amount will make a tremendous difference. Your donation to La Mujer Obrera is tax-deductible and will help pay for our operating costs, supplies for our cultural events and our daycare’s vegetable patch, outreach and engagement programs, and make all of our work possible.

We know you believe in this work and understand that our efforts require investment. Please donate today to invest in the future of El Paso, border workers and our families so that we can continue to work towards our shared vision of a life with dignity for everyone.

Giving online is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to help La Mujer Obrera continue our work to improve the economic conditions and enhance the culture and health of El Paso’s Chamizal neighborhood. To make an online donation, click here.

Thank you!