U.S.-Mexico Border Women Will Hold Hunger Strike in DC
Demanding Alternatives to Violence, Poverty for Long-Term Security
By La Mujer Obrera
View campaign video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R87ahDS8F0M
EL PASO – Ten women whose families have been impacted by the violence, poverty and unemployment engulfing the Ciudad Juarez/El Paso border region are launching a hunger strike in front of the White House at noon on Monday, November 8. They call on federal decision-makers focused on short-sighted border security initiatives to establish immediate and long-term strategies to support community-led development of the nation’s poorest region.
The women, who live in El Paso and have family members on both sides of the border, are part of the nationally recognized grassroots organization, La Mujer Obrera, one of several organizations on the U.S.-Mexico border committed to long term development
Historically, border communities have suffered the brunt of federal decisions from international trade policies such as NAFTA to the ‘war on drugs,’ which impose economic and social policies that benefit corporations and have long term negative repercussions at the community level. Border women are angry that their livelihoods, communities, and futures have been written off as “unfortunate but necessary casualties” of these policies.
While national and international conversations about the border focus on short-sighted security initiatives, border women have been creating long term security through grassroots economic development, despite tragic personal experiences with border violence in Ciudad Juarez and profound poverty in El Paso. But those accomplishments and future plans are now at profound risk because of a lack of federal investment.
Nationally, billions have been authorized for jobs benefiting mostly men in the construction industry and border security, primarily benefiting private security firms. U.S. transnationals operating maquilas and those seeking to profit from the violence and poverty in Ciudad Juarez and Mexico are reaping millions. Yet the border communities struggle with 10%+ unemployment, and even higher rates for women workers.
“Real security starts within the community itself. By investing in the places where we live, work, and play, we reduce the chance that people will have to leave seeking economic opportunities or resort to illegal activities to make ends meet. This is true for both sides of the border,” said Ana Gomez, one of the women participating in the hunger strike.
Border women are pursuing their own version of security and employment, on both sides of the border. The women have created their own jobs and community development alternatives amidst the dire conditions.
Their work at La Mujer Obrera in El Paso is one example. Through a daycare, restaurant, festival marketplace, and a network of artisan women in Mexico, the women are creating genuine border security.
Like La Mujer Obrera, there are other communities of low income women on the border, who want to create jobs, change lives, and work to break the cycles of poverty and abuse, restoring pride and dignity in their neighborhoods. Despite their innovative approaches, women on the border have been excluded from plans for the border’s development and security.
Although the border region bears the nation’s most extreme poverty and underdevelopment, 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, basically does not include women workers. In addition, global funding streams focused on women’s development exclude border women’s efforts because they are not “in a third world country.”
For these reasons, La Mujer Obrera in conjunction with women workers’ development organizations on the border seeks an immediate investment to:
1) Organize and help convene a national summit to identify public-private initiatives in support of a 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.
2) 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.
The women are fighting their hardest battle ever – sustainability of their initiatives in the weakest U.S. economy in decades and a future being designed that does not include them.
The conditions of women on the border are urgent, and La Mujer Obrera and other women’s organizations on the border are demanding justice and equity now.
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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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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