Border Transformation In Several Decades
With the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo on February 2, 1848, the border dividing the Mexican people was formed. The Mexican border means various things to different people. To date, 600 miles of border wall has already been built. This wall would extend from California, to El Paso, to the valley. The first reason given by the government for construction of the wall was to prevent terrorist attacks, the next was to keep illegal Mexicans out, and the most current one is to combat the drug smuggling into the United States. For some Mexicans and Mexican Americans, the border poses threats, and for others, it establishes possibilities for oneself and one’s family.
The border industrialization program, which began the 1970s, increased significantly from its previous conditions. Migration to border towns became highly prevalent. Border cities led to population growth and, simultaneously, high unemployment rates. In reaction, government officials started the maquilladora program. Maquillas (from the Spanish maquillar, ‘to make up’) are the giant sweatshops of the global economy, where armies of poor women are put to work to assemble goods for export. The supply of women is so great that these women are treated with no value. Border industrialization began to rise and power companies such as Samsung and RCA, as evident in the movie, Maquilapolis (2006) by Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre, by always having lines of women ready and willing to work. Mexican government officials viewed the Maquiladora Program in a positive light, claiming it to be “an integral part of Mexico’s strategy for development.”
The movie depicts the maquiladora workers in Tijuana, Mexico to balance life working in these factories with their struggle for justice in the system that governs their place of work. This reiterates how machismo affected gender relations in Mexico and how woman are devalued.
These maquiladoras are good because of the labor they give to Mexican citizens. However, it’s not fair for the low wages and cruelties taken on by the employees in these factories. Unsanitary and dangerous factory conditions pose threats to these women’s lives each day. The women are looking for the means of life and survival. They face jobless times, so they are forced to find jobs in labor. Despite the conditions these women have been subjected to, they still continue to remain hopeful. Señorita Extraviada (2001) is a documentary by Lourdes Portillo about the hundreds of unsolved murders of young women that have occurred over the past 10 years in Juárez, Mexico—the Mexican border city across the Rio Grande from El Paso. The Coalition of non-government organizations (NGOs) for Women (1994-2000) was created by female activists; their main aim behind the coalition was to change the cultural, economic, and political context of gendered violence in the city. This coalition organized events such as marches, press conferences, and domestic and international press was prevalent. There were many challenges against this coalition: it was the city’s first ever cross-class women’s political organization and the city’s first feminist-oriented political coalition. An external attack began to form on the Coalition. Many “elite” political and economic leaders argued that the violence was “normal” for Juárez. They argued that many of these women knew what they were doing—living the “doble vida” (double life) as factory workers during the day and prostitutes by night. Many asserted it was a recycled discourse of female trouble. The notion of these “public women” mimicked the negative talk surrounding the prostitutes as women who “contaminated” all associated with her from family, community, and nation. A “public woman” was regarded as an illegitimate citizen. Government authorities used this as a way to dismiss the influx of crimes and blame the women for the surge of violence in...
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