WOMEN ON THE BORDER
Interview with Juan P. H. (real name in separate file)
October 23, 2000
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)
- has three brothers and three sisters - He is fifth in family order
- Mother - Ma. Elena Hernandez- father is Jose Hernandez
(first factory job) (at the furniture store )
- he was "ensamblador del norte"
Had to attach hundreds per day (labels?)
Glues all day long and sat all day long
\would get very sleep - worked at night
then want to Carrizo factory -
probationary employees for 30 days
he made jeans
didn't last -
went from there to Ceramica Creativa
Had to remove the "defects" - earned very minimum pay
Was there for 9 months - low pay
Then went to Productos Naturales - removed shrimp shells
Very short time - less than one month
Bartender for 2 l/1 years - Copacabana - en la Zona Rosa (bars, clubs)
From the cabaret (as bartender)
Went to Century - factory that made baby seats - paid fairly well.
1993: - meets "husband" #3 -
2 years - relationship broke down - lived together (he got night shift, other had day shift - difficult) - separated.
"Paola" left after -
95-96 - goes to Dallas Texas - stays about one-half years
got job in paint factory that produced thinner, near Love Field (airport) - probably about 6 months there
also got job as busboy (no legal residence) - got to know other (gay?) guys
(yes) they put on shows in Latino bars; dressed in drag
act as "Paola" - fun and earned tips
Not safe - one time saw murder in that bar
Another time he got assaulted by two black men
Bought a bike
The danger makes him decide to leave Dallas
That's when he starts at Dimmit Industries (w/others who fired with him? - yes).
Starts there about July 1996
Working conditions at Dimmit -
He worked on steamers - 15 days - vapors too hot and excessive no coolants - he got lots of burn accidents - requests transfer
** Moves to reparaci—n (detailed repairs of finished pants - finishing department) - earns "good money" $1100 Pesos per week/205 per day
Better than other workers?
Yes, that job paid better - other average ($400 pesos per week).
- Organizing -
- Very open to message of the CFO
- Had relationship that was "neutral" with CTM
- (CTM -more established union in Mexico _ corrupted by power politics)
New union elections come up - with others starts pushing for clean (not corrupted) elections, clear demarcation of authority
Officials (in CTM positions) start hearing that Juan pablo hanging out with the CFO (they say "hanging out with Julia" -
[Julia Gonzalez - long time "coordinadora" (like executive director) of CFO - former maquiladora worker who is amazing organizer - the unions don't like her because she is good trainer]
- Julia advises Juan pablo (and others) about how to bring about democratic changes - Juan Pablo "very open"
- gets suspended; walked out of factory
Problems that led to firing by Dimmit:
Plantas No. 2 and 4 (out of approximately 2000 workers(?) (nee4d to check this)
Workers called to general assembly (of CTM Union) (to justify suspension?)
Dissident workers refused to support - wanted the changes
150 (other employees) marched out with of assembly and went to front gate of the factory to get the 8 workers back into the factory (were standing outside with signs protesting the suspension).
One week out -
Employees from Plants 2, 4, 3 and 1 (1500 employees) (out of totwl of 6 plants)
Bring out the 1500 workers - just demand
All 1500 workers to go the Centro de Convencion -
Lleg— el de la Conciliaci—n de Arbitraje (like labor Board? )
They tell the confidential employees to leave
They wanted a vote on the new union rep in the plant - wanted a guy named Julio.
800 voted for Julio - won
(Julia and others let me know that he is "paola" - they seem comfortable with his being gay. - Juany andAmparo and Juan pablo took me to Ciudad Acu–a to look for workers - we ate tacos at big mall type store - I paid).
Return trip to Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico
May 23, 2002 - Trip with Austin Tan Cerca de la Fronter (ATCF)
My observations -
Juan Pablo - looks totally different - his case settled with Dimmitt - they got money. Saw his photo in short article by AFSC - looked totally transvestite in photo
He died his hair black; masculine. No make-up.
Jorge - former boyfriend - (he must have been "husband" no. 3) - they're freiend now - Juan Pablo is teaching Jorge how to become CFO organizer in Nuevo Laredo - no union presence in the city.
They "came out" to the people from Austin rather comfortably; one of the visitors asked why Juan pablo here in Laredo -
Wanted to help friend - what divided them then was the work, the organizing?
Now they healed relationship
Not out to people this weekend
We chatted on the bus - told him about "Paul/Paula" in Austin Texas
- Juan Pablo - laughed, doesn't understand -
- Not into gay rights - no gay consciousness per se - "skimpy outfits" (politicized gays) - not for him
- Organizing is more important -