Fair Trade Tours
Participate in a Delegation to the TX-MX Border with ATCF
From October 7 to 9, 2011, Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera (ATCF) is hosting a delegation to Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña to learn about labor rights and social justice issues at the US-Mexico border. ATCF is an Austin-based non-profit that began in 1999 as a fair-trade activist group protesting the GAP’s sweatshop labor conditions. They have worked in solidarity with the Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO, or Border Committee of Workers) since their beginnings, by organizing quarterly delegations to the CFO offices in Piedras Negras, Reynosa, and Ciudad Acuña as a way to educate Americans about labor issues in the maquiladoras and to raise funds for the CFO.
ATCF’s delegations are unique and quite eye-opening due to the close and respectful partnership they have with the CFO. I attended one of their delegations this past January, and it was an influential and motivating experience that affected my work in fair trade. We visited a worker-owned cooperative of ex-maquiladora workers in San Antonio on our way to the border to speak with the women about the injustices they faced in the factories and how they have come to now create an empowering livelihood for themselves. In two border towns in Mexico, we were guided by a CFO worker to meet and discuss with maquiladora workers and labor rights activists, as well as members of the Los Mineros labor union. It is shocking how little information workers are given about their rights, and the CFO is making great strides in educating and assisting the workers.
For me, the delegation was so powerful because it provided a first-hand, open and honest glance into the lives and work of the people that live so close to us along the border. ATCF and the CFO collaborate through a model of solidarity that is as inspiring as their passion for social justice. The people with whom we visited were incredibly welcoming; they even took a group of us out dancing one evening! The delegations are open to everyone (my group had an age range of 14-55 and was gender-mixed), and at least one translator attends to accommodate those who do not speak Spanish (like myself). Though there is a fee to cover food, lodging, and transportation, those with cost-restrictions, should contact Judith at ATCF before, rather than letting that stop you from attending. ATCF is also open to discussing any questions, particularly with those concerned about safety at the border. Any further information can be found at: www.atcf.org or by contacting Judith Rosenberg: JRosenberg@atcf.org. Enjoy the delegation!