I saw the face of Satan today.
I’m not one who goes around talking, or even necessarily believing in a Satanic being. In fact, I am often uncomfortable when I hear people talking this way. However, today I stood witness to a being that throws away human life, forces people to live in a way that makes gnashing of teeth sound pleasant and uses up the souls of people for their own advancement. This being is the body of transnational corporations situated on the Mexican side of the US/Mexico border known as maquiladores. The satanic face of globalization.
The Emerson "maquiladora" is one of an estimated 142 maquiladoras on the border
Our group was granted an opportunity to sit with people who live in colonias–housing areas for maquiladora workers that often don’t have electricity or sometimes even running water–and work in these factories. These people sat with us and told us stories.
They told us about the mother of two who worked at the LG plant and recently got both of her hands cut off in equipment she wasn’t trained to use. Though the company didn’t want to help her, they were forced to provide her with the required two years severance pay–50,000 pesos or $3,731 US.
They told us about several maquiladores using the chemical exsamo, a chemical that causes skin cancer, and not telling
A far-away view of a colonia, a housing area where maquiladora workers live. This colonia sits above an irrigation canal.
the workers what they were handling (they were usually told it was alcohol). They told us how women are required to take pregnancy tests before getting hired, errors routinely being made on paychecks, chairs taken away from workers on nine hour shifts, workers right’s lawyers who are bought out by the companies so they don’t have proper representation, the list goes on and on.
But there’s another side to this story.
Combating this Satan are very brave and generous people. These angels are women who serve as promotoras, women who work in the maquiladoras and inform and educate workers on Mexican labor law and their rights and help them fight for what they deserve. These women face the risk of being blacklisted at best and physically injured by the companies at worst–but they persist.
Another angel is 82 year-old Ed Krueger. A white man from the United States who saw an injustice and decided he was going to do something about it. Thirty-two years ago he walked through a colonia by himself and just started talking to people. Ever since then he has been meeting with maquiladora workers and educating them on their labor rights as granted them by the Mexican Constitution of 1917 (birthed out of the Mexican Revolution) and discussing issues that the workers are facing. By himself, with no help from outside forces, funding streams or institutional backing, Mr. Krueger started his organization Comite de Apoyo which he and his wife run. His goal is to educate individuals on their rights so that they can educate others and help workers fight for the rights they have which these companies exploit.
Mr. Ed Krueger debriefs our visit to Reynosa and Rio Bravo, Mexico. Mr. Krueger has worked for maquiladora workers rights for 32 years.
Mr. Krueger is a gentle soul. He is an older man who’s energy is only held back by the cane he is forced to walk with. He is a man who wants to know what you are passionate about and listens with a smile. He is a man who had a picture of his face posted in the maquiladora management offices under the title of “wanted.”
As we left the house of the first group of women, we prayed and laid hands on them. We prayed that God would protect them, give them and their families protection and strength, and I prayed for thankfulness that I got a chance to meet them. It was an emotional prayer. It was the only chance we got to see of the weight of the situation on these women’s faces.
All this for a positive profit margin and to feed the extraordinary consumption habit of the Unites States.
I am forever changed by today, by these angels. Satan has no chance if he faces more people like this.