Workers’ Voices

WOB mourns the loss of Juanita Lopez Torres (1969-2013)

Women on the Border mourns the loss of Juanita Lopez Torres, a courageous friend and and activist in the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras/os (CFO) and a champion for the rights of maquiladora workers. She fiercely articulated the right of working woman to be treated with respect and dignity.

Juanita passed away in her home in Piedras Negras surrounded by loved ones, including her companion Federico “Lico” Marin, and friends on April 6, 2013. She had been struggling with complications from diabetes.

Juanita was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. From a young age and as a maquiladora worker she fought for workers’ rights to human dignity and justice. She became active in the CFO as a neighborhood activist as well as on its Board of Directors. One of her significant contributions to the work of the CFO was helping to found the project on fair trade called Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia.

Some of Juanita’s spirit as a feminist advocate for working women is seen in the segments of the YouTube video World Class People (by M Bosquez)  where she described an experience of sexual harassment and how she spoke up for her right to respect, a response that ultimately cost her her job.  VIEW HERE

Simple of heart, kind, intelligent, compassionate and brilliant in her role as an educator of workers’ rights under the federal law is how many will remember Juanita and grieve this tragic loss to the community of activist maquiladora workers at the border.

WORKERS’ VOICES: SIX YEARS UNDER NAFTA

WORKERS STORIES

WOB from 2001 to 2014 gathered stories on delegations.  The workers’ lives gave a human face to the notions of “free trade” and its actual impact on workers’ lives. The Journey of Immigrant Delegations (2012 and 2014) were intended to bring to life the overall impact of immigration law and policy.

MAQUILADORA WORKERS:

Amparo’s Story  “Mi padre es del Valle de Bravo en el estado de Mexico. Mis padres son de Toluca que está como a media hora del D.F. Los dos de mis padres aun viven. Mi papa se llama Margarito Reyes Villega, y mi mamá se llama Amalia Galicia. Los dos son de Mexico.  Mi padre se vino a la frontera primero en el 1973…” Read more.

Juan Pablo’s Story – Interview by Josefina Castillo  “As organizer for CFO, I tried to coordinate the elections to renew the Union and to elect new plant delegates. The moment my partners and I started organizing we were fired. And there was no turn back, ten people were fired. This was a year ago. The owners did not want an independent union aside from the official Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos (CTM) which is a corrupt union that worked hand in hand with the Mexican government for 70 years…” Read more.

Juan Pablo – Interview Notes  “PIEDRAS NEGRAS, COAHUILA, MEXICO.  32 yrs. Old – DOB 28 february – 1972.  Moves from small village – Monclova, Coahuila – around 1987.  18 years old begins to work in muebleria (furniture factory).  Also job as secretario (direccion de teatro).  Short time as librarian.  Fairly young (not out to parents)… Read more.

Sofia’s Story – Interview Notes  “For us, we came only with our clothing. And the aunt who was supposed to help us didn’t help us very much at all. She didn’t give us much support. The aunt was having too many of her own problems, expecially with her husband. My husband told the supervisor this story and she went about to help us and found us a home to live in. We lived in it for about 6 months. ?During this time I began to buy my own dishes and things on layaway. I bought then from an “abonero,” people who get you things that sometimes may come through connections through companies, or sometimes the products aren’t considered safe because of “the water”… Read more.

Paty’s Story – Interview Notes  “1984 worked at Ceramico. – painted small objects?exposed to paint thinners all day – three different containers – one with paint, another with thinner and another with a solvent. The thinner was the strongest. Sat at table – during that job 2 or 3 women workers fainted in front of her. Worked there 6 years. Would get strong headaches…” Read more.

Marina’s Story – Interview Notes  “Worked as inspector of “monoblocks”.  Six months in wiring, and six months in soldering. ?No children but family dependent on her income in Mexico.  Biggest health complaint as a result of the work – bones because of having to stand so long.  Working conditions complaint: Too long of a typical workday. So tired at the end of day that she cannot clean house and can’t even talk to anyone…” Read more.

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Articles

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