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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review Lives on the line

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The book Lives on the Line by Miriam Davidson tells five different stories each describe what life is like. There lives represent what has been going on and what is going on in Nogales. From a maquiladora worker, a man who was diagnosed with cancer then became an environmental activist, a child of the streets and two maquiladora managers. These stories tell about the dramatic transformation from the industrial boom of the maquiladora and the pressure of the border itself. In this essay I will try to cover how these lives have been impacted on both sides.


Miriam starts out by telling us that she believes the transformation of Nogales is because of the maquiladora boom. These maquiladoras attract large number of people without jobs to the city especially women because they have smaller fingers and do better jobs. Thousands and thousands of people flocked to all over the border. In Nogales from the mid 180’s to mid 10’s the population tripled. (p.10) They received thirty to forty five dollars in a forty-eight hour workweek but rent was so high that they could not afford it. So with all the new people that were arriving every day in Nogales and the insufficient housing and Mexico’s lax of environmental enforcement that Davidson says is the driving force of the changes in Nogales.


Many problems arose from the economic boom from the Maquiladoras. A very large issue in my opinion the environment and the health of the people surrounding the border. With all the new population growth and all old in the second story with Jimmy Teyechea the founder of LIFE- Living is for everyone this man tells us of his fight for trying to make the town of Nogales aware of what was going on and he fought to make it safer for the people. This man’s life was greatly impacted by the ignorance and purposeful dumping of toxic chemicals down drains, washes, bright green rocks found in the city dump. Unlike the regulations that say these chemicals are supposed to properly be disposed of, but with money and ignorance involved this did not happen. Jimmy and thousands of other people died from cancer or strange diseases because heads were turned the other way. Children diagnosed with leukemia and babies being born with missing or partially formed brains. Jimmy helped by getting the attention of the public at no matter what cost.


In the first story with Yolanda S├ínchez she shows us how the maquilas have an effect on the lives of women. Yolanda came to Nogales seeking work trying to flee from her drunken husband and trying to make a new life for herself. She did so by going to Nogales finding work in one of the maquiladoras. She stayed with a friend and later on acquired a piece of terreno. She also sold used clothing, kitchen utensils and babysitting. After three years struggle Yolanda said “I felt like the queen of the hill.” (p.) This was the story of thousands of newcomers that came to Nogales trying to find jobs at the maquilas and new lives. Trying to make it was the central theme of Nogales.


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Many people like Yolanda who at first many have no water no electricity they use old chemical barrels to store their water in began to protest this. They would lie in the middle of the highway to block off traffic this was a way to get the attention of the media which did and they were forced to take action. They promised to bring public facilities to them and they did.


Many people believe that the maquiladoras should take some part in this because they are what draw all these people to the border and exploit them. Maybe they should give a little back to the community also. This is what Douglas Chapman CEO of the Chicago based ACCO World Corporation visited the town of Nogales and saw the kinds of places that his workers were living in. He decided to set up a charitable foundation were he put several thousand dollars into an organization. This was slow to start because many of the other maquiladoras would not even donate 5 cents an hour per each worker saying that they already contributed millions to the government of Mexico through salaries and taxes and what not. Finally in 15 Infonavit Mexican government’s low income housing authority agreed to finance the construction.


In my opinion I believe that the maquiladoras have both benefited and harmed the people of Nogales. Women like Yolanda have benefited by breaking away from the traditional roles that the Mexican culture upholds for women. The female maquiladoras workers now have the power to take control of there bodies and minds. They are many who go to work and have there husbands stay at home and watch the kinds. Another benefit is that some of the people from the maquiladoras are trying to make a difference in the communities of the workers of these places no longer saying that just their presence is enough.


Some of the negative effects of the maquiladoras are the destruction of the environment. Many people like Jimmy Teyechea dying from the chemicals that are produced by the maquiladoras and are not properly disposed of. Many people diagnosed not known how many people have died from these chemicals. An additional negative effect that the maquiladoras have had on the border is illegal immigration. People flock to the borders in search of last hopes maquilas but they pay so little money that people are not able to live on this and so they figure the only way to get out is to leave. With the militarization of the border people who try to cross “accidentally” get shot or the border patrols are getting stabbed. Our people who can not afford to feed there families so they take up drug trafficking and sell drugs across the border or to there own people.


After all this I do believe that Davidson has hope for the future of Nogales with start of unions that work for the rights of the people and the housing and hopefully a new and improved relationship with the US will lead these lives with not some much hunger and desperation.


In my opinion this big gives a very good description of the lives on the border and who these foreign industries have brought work but nothing else. These is just like the factories in other countries they are being exploited by their work but the only reason that we recognize it more is because it is so close and it is hurting the American side of the border. I think that hopefully as the years go on things become better for the women, the children the environment and everything surrounding this. In the last page Miriam Davidson says that while she was there she did not make a difference. Maybe not then but I am sure that has opened the eyes of some people including myself. The backs of both governments were both turned with the maquilas on or side and the workers on theirs. Someday maybe will live in harmony with out “the fear of the U.S. becoming a third world country.”





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