Borderlinks Report                       Author: Erin Million

            The environmental state of Nogales left the deepest impression on me following my fieldtrip to Mexico.  From the reading Two Countries, One Population, Shared Problems Community Health in the Borderlands: An Overview, the author/s state, “Shared determinants of public health affecting the border’s population include environmental hazards like air and water pollution, mismanagement of pesticides, and inadequate treatment of human wastes.”  Whether it was when touring the Maquiladora, speaking with the family in the colonia Bella Vista, or just driving around the city speaking with the group leader/members of Borderlinks, that statement and those like it became very real for me.  The air quality is horrible.  I felt ill from the fumes the entire day.  The city’s health seems to be very poor. 

The people of Nogales seem to be facing an insurmountable number of obstacles if trying to correct and manage their health risks.  Also, it seems they have more pressing needs to meet before being able to divert enough attention to these issues to see reform.  First, a country with high unemployment, high food prices, poor working conditions, long work hours, unreasonable pay, and a lack of social services provided by the government would leave its countrymen in constant survival mode.  Therefore, its people would be unable to fight the injustices allowed to manifest and fester in the absence of a collective objecting and unified voice.  This is supported by Maria Guadalupe Torres in We Are Not Machines: Corporations that bring jobs must bring justice too, “But the demands life puts on the workers leaves very little space for organizing.  We may have a meeting planned for 5:00 P.M., and the women will often be detained at work, and arrive at six or seven—bone-tired, wanting to wash up and tend to the family.  We have to postpone the meeting to a day when they won’t have to work so late.”  

The many reasons migrants seek out other countries are varied, however, I believe many seek out the universal moral standards or rights that everyone is entitled to.  Whether they leave home because of persecution, lack of opportunities, poverty, overpopulation or family connections, the underlying motivations could also be seen as the right to equality, dignity, life, autonomy, and knowledge. From the many articles we have read thus far I have noticed that many of those who choose to migrate do so for one or more of the universal rights that are not being met in their home country.  For instance, I’ve learned the effects of industrial nations on emerging nations have displaced those previously in agricultural work, who then move to the cities to find unemployment, mistreatment, and low pay. They find themselves moving to another country as a means of survival (life), while seeking fair treatment (equality/dignity) and better opportunities, possibly by expanding their skill-set through educational/training opportunities not available to them or their children (knowledge) in their own country.  This is the case for many migrants including some from Mexico. 

While the plight of the people of Nogales is notable it is unfortunately common across the world.  The articles which comprise the Borderlinks reading packet concern only the Mexican struggle. Nonetheless some the same issues are persistent in many countries. However, the shared border does more easily demonstrate the effects the United States have had on developing countries.  The United States and its corporations have a responsibility to uphold human rights for all people they do business with, not only those within its borders.  The United States cannot continue to treat others as simply a means to getting what it want because in doing so we, as citizens, strip them of the rights they are entitled to.  As Hohn Fife said, in Holy Communion: An Interview with John Fife by Lenore Yarger, “We’re going to have to develop a global environmental system of regulation…And we’re going to have to develop a set of agreements between nations and communities that will provide a just and viable society through public schools and public health-institutions.”



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