David Bacon is a writer and photographer, and associate editor for New America Media. He is the author of The Children of NAFTA and sits on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Committee of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition.
If the proposals for privatizing Mexico's nationalized electrical system bear an eerie resemblance to California's disastrous experiment in deregulation, it should come as no surprise. The proposals, after all, share some of the same authors. In fact, as Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay were setting up shadow corporations to hide Enron's huge U.S. losses in 2001, other Enron executives found time to hobnob with Mexican politicians and design projects in cooperation with that country's industrial elite.
The bitterness of the current West Coast longshoremen's lockout was vividly demonstrated on Tuesday, Oct. 1, when the two sides met in Oakland, Calif., to explore federally mediated bargaining. Representatives of the Pacific Maritime Association showed up at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service office accompanied by two guards armed with pistols. International Longshore and Warehouse Union President James Spinosa, who said that both sides had previously agreed to bring only five negotiators apiece, was taken aback to see the entire negotiating team for the PMA with its security escort.
Erlinda Valencia came from the Philippines almost two decades ago. Like many Filipinos living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she found a minimum-wage job at the airport, screening passengers' carry-on bags.
Two years ago, organizers from the Service Employees International Union began talking to the screeners. Valencia decided to get involved and eventually became a leader in the campaign that brought in the union. "It seemed to us all that for the first time, we had a real future," she recalls. A new contract raised wages to more than $10 an hour, and harassment by managers abated.
St. Agnes church and its sister parish, our Lady of
Guadalupe, are the heart of south Omaha, Nebraska. Every Sunday, hundreds of
packinghouse workers -- Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans -- dress up in their
best clothes and stream through St. Agnes' doors for Spanish-language mass. The
men take off their wide-brimmed sombreros as mothers call out to little girls in
frilly dresses who run giggling through the aisles.
After the leader of their union was shot down at their plant gate in late 1996, Edgar Paéz and his co-workers at the Coca-Cola bottling factory in Carepa, Colombia, tried for more than four years to get their government to take action against the responsible parties. Instead, some of the workers themselves wound up behind bars, while the murderers went free.