Delegate reflection: Melissa G.H.


Melissa went on a delegation with support from WOB.  The experiential learning of a delegation brings to life the impact of U.S. and Mexico trade agreements.


Dear Women on the Border,

My name is Melissa Gamez-Herrera and I participated in the Austin Tan Cerca de La Frontera delegation to Piedras Negras, Allende and Nava, MX this past May. I also photographed the trip for ATCF, for their own organizational uses, as well as for my practice as a photographer and to be able to make images which show people some of what it is like to live as a worker in the maquiladoras in the US-Mexico border region.

The delegation to Mexico with ATCF is one of the most memorable and important experiences I’ve participated in. It is so valuable for people like me, who are invested in learning and resisting the effects of political decisions like NAFTA. To go to Piedras Negras, Allende and Nava, and speak to real workers of the maquiladoras, as well as the grassroots leadership of the Comite de Fronterizo Obrer@s, is an experience which many in this country will never do, or even care to do. However, the level of exploitation that corporations (mainly American corporations) take advantage of should not be ignored. Workers in the US are currently fighting for our own rights to fair wages, and safe working conditions, just as Mexican obrer@s are doing. We should learn from and listen to the workers of Mexico, and realize that much of what we go through as workers in the US is very similar to what they go through.

Americans also benefit from the exploitation of workers in Mexico. So, it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Mexican workers, to listen to them, and share in their plight. This is why I am so grateful that I was able to participate in the delegation, and photograph the men and women we met as well.

Thank you so much for your financial support because without it, I would not have been able to take part in the delegation. I would not have gotten to learn from and listen to the hard-working, intelligent and committed people, mainly women, who fight everyday to improve working conditions for their fellow comrades and more importantly, to provide for and take care of their families as best they can. I hope those women workers continue their fight for a better life for themselves and their families, and I believe that future delegations to the border will continue to help fuel that fire.


Melissa Gamez-Herrera


Writer, attorney, Lawprof Emerita from Northern Illinois University.
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