My Trip to Nogales Sonora Mexico

The field trip on February 23, 2005 is one of the greatest trips I have taken down to Nogales.  I went places that I have not gone before.  Even though I am a frequent visitor of Nogales.  I enjoyed the trip, but I had my preferences to the sites we went.  The three most important things I enjoyed about the trip was the speech of Coalición De Derechos Humanos, the lunch with Doña Naty, and the visit at the maquiladora, mainly because they spoke to my thoughts I had before on certain issues.

Coalición De Derechos Humanos talk is something I already knew was going on about the deaths in the desert.  I did not know that the border patrol did not count some deaths if they happened to find just the bones. The border patrol does not do this because the deaths happened long before the remains bones were found. Therefore they are not counted at all.  This upsets me because the border patrol does not count them as humans dying crossing the border and properly bury them as dead people.

The immigrant crossing the border illegally has to deal with both the border patrol’s and smugglers’ abuses.  The border patrol sometimes abuses their authority, by abusing people, and in some cases by sexual harassment.  Illegal immigrants are not allowed most of the time to accuse them with the proper authorities because deportation happens quickly.  They intend to cross again but this time being successful they do not tend to report to appropriate authorities because they believe if they do they might get deported if they do.  I have heard from people that sometimes they also have to deal with smugglers that do abuses to the people.  Women are the ones that often get raped by either smugglers, or by their own people crossing the border with them.  This when Coalición De Derechos Humanos steps in to help, though sometimes people criticize them claiming that they don’t do any good and all they do is waste time by defending people’s rights. 

            In the lunch with Doña Naty was an excellent experience for my group.  I served as the translator between the Spanish and English because I am bilingual.  The mole was a southern Mexico dish she cooked for our group.  I could easily identify her being from the state of Guerrero and could relate to the flow of the talk due to the fact that my family is from Guerrero too.  I have a suspicion that she migrated to Nogales Sonora because she or her family was threatened, and maybe fled persecution.  I believe this because she has been in Nogales for more than 30 years, has not gone back to Guerrero since. This situation makes me suspect that there is something wrong, because she says she has family still in Guerrero whom she has not seen in 30 years. It is unusual for the people that are from Mexico. To not see family members for an extended period of time Majority of the families in Mexico are tied together. 

Doña Naty is most like my parents family in that there are numerous people in the family.  She has 9 kids.  The Borderlinks reading packet includes an article regarding women, The Status of Women in Mexico.  “Women with at least a junior high education have an average of 2.2 kids. Women with less education have 4.7 children.” This relates to why Doña Naty had many children because she is not highly educated.  My group also found out why she stopped in Nogales and did not continue on to the United States.  Her reason was that she did not have any more money. She brought all her family with her and it would have cost plenty of money to go over the border.

When she got to the place where she currently lives, she did not have the basic services.  They did not have electricity until 4 years after they got there.  The education of the children supposedly is free but there are fees that sum up 30 dollars a year, per child.  Most families cannot afford this and don’t send their children to school.  She told us that most all of her family has worked in the maquiladoras.

The school system in Mexico is different from the United States which is something we take for granted.  In other parts of the world people don’t have the same advantages or going to school.  My parents did not even go beyond the 6th grade.  Their parents could not afford for them to go to school.  They also come from large families.

In the talk with Rosario Roldan at Curtis de medido I was able to know a little more about the maquiladora industries.  I knew that there were factories in Nogales but I did not know how they are run.  I did not know that employees/coworkers make an average of $10 a day compared to the minimum wage of 46 pesos.  There are plenty of benefits they have for the workers.  One of them is offering them healthcare and food for a low fee. The people working in the maquiladora who work overtime get paid more, up to 3 times depending on the hours of overtime.  I now know more about how NAFTA affected some companies in the free trade mainly because there are plenty of guidelines that must be followed in order to qualify for the free trade.  Only big corporations that have been long time established are the ones benefiting from NAFTA.


The talk with Kiko Trujillo, Borderlinks executive director in Mexico, made me even more aware of the disadvantages people have in the maquiladora industries.  They cannot form unions because companies usually already have a union set up with the government, in many cases the workers don’t even know.  The people trying to form their union cannot do because it is illegal to have two unions according to Trujillo.


The following reading from the reading packet of Borderlinks backs up what Trujillo was talking about. In the article called The Sorry Union History of a Mexican Tech Factor, the author writes about how some people that worked in the maquiladora were trying to form a union.  As soon as the managers knew about this they threatened to fire the workers.  The workers a couple days later had their union established.  The people that were in the union were fired. Soon something happened to them and they went to complain to human resources.  But the company then paid the federal government to form their union and denied the union that was already there and kicked them out.  This shows one of the problems Mexico has, which is corruption in the government.  With money they can solve any problem even if it’s illegal.  Nobody can win against them because they are the government. 

The trip is one I think I will always remember mainly because now I know more about why some people migrate to the north of the border of Mexico in the maquiladora zones.  I learned more about how NAFTA is affecting most of all the people except for the big corporations.  I have gone plenty of times to Mexico.  Each time I usually come back with a different mentality all due to what I personally see.  Now I have a different view about the people and interest that implemented NAFTA and the people affected by it.



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