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Maquiladora Workers Run as Independents in Juarez

The workers’ movement spurred by the courageous maquiladora workers of EATON, Foxconn and Lexmark are stirring controversy and excitement in the city of Juárez. The workers decided to advance an independent candidate for the highest position in the municipal elections: a woman worker who emerged from the fight for reincorporation and an independent union.

Sergio Moissen

February 4, 2016
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Photo: La Izquierda Diario

This article is an adaptation of an article originally published in La Izquierda Diario.

Women workers in resistance–demanding the right to unionize, increased wages, an end to sexual and labor harassment in the maquiladoras–voted in an assembly to advance an electoral campaign, with Antonia “Toñita” Hinojosa Hernández running independently of all parties within the Mexican Congress. Forty-five year old Toñita was an EATON-Bussman worker who was organizing and defending an independent union when the company fired her. In the following months, she joined the struggle of fellow women workers at Lexmark, who stopped production during the night shift four consecutive times and continue to fight for their readmission. The workers also decided to put forward 20 workers who will run for various positions.

Photo: Antonia “Toñita” Hinojosa Hernández, right

Independent worker candidacies in the electoral system would be a unprecedented, almost unheard of event in Mexico. Industrial, maquiladora, and the most exploited workers in particular are excluded from participating in politics by bosses’ parties and the anti-democratic electoral system. A vote for an independent worker-candidate would be a vote of the working class against the ruling class.

In this context, the oppressed have no option that represents us, since parties like the PRI, PAN or PRD only serve the capitalist bosses. At the same time, López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) is not an alternative for the masses, shown by its policy of lining up behind and “democratizing” the current anti-worker regime.

A worker candidate contesting the main seat in the municipal government with a program that denounces the current situation of the working class, women and other oppressed sectors in Juárez would be a political event of great relevancy in Mexico.

This would be a possible step in the class independence of women and men workers near the U.S.-Mexico border who work in precarious conditions and suffer transnational companies’ exploitation, which is guaranteed by the “democratic” regime of the “Alternation,” which is how the current regime is known after 70 years of PRI-only rule.

An Independent Program to Fight for Workers’ Rights and the People

All of this is possible if the workers raise a campaign that denounces and faces the exploitation in the maquiladora industry as well as the government’s plans to eliminate worker achievements; a campaign that calls on workers to organize as a class around their own demands, independent of the bosses’ parties and institutions; a campaign that traces a dividing line among classes—between workers and bosses, including a battle for the political independence of unions, free from the bureaucratic control of corrupt leadership and company unions.

From the international network of La Izquierda Diario/Left Voice, we salute the workers’ decision to advance an independent candidate. In the same vein, we propose an independent program and policy discussed by the resisting workers.

The program should raise, along with the resisting workers’ own demands, the demands of women, youth, and popular sectors of Juárez. We propose the inclusion of positions on the struggle against femicide, the criminalization of youth, increasing militarization, and agreements like NAFTA that impose further dependency and subordination to U.S. imperialism.

The program should denounce the Mexican government, political parties of the regime, and their alliance—formed in order to impose plans of exploitation against workers—as well as call on workers to abandon any trust in the institutions responsible, including the accomplices of the thousands who have been murdered and disappeared. This way, workers can spearhead the construction of a popular alliance against the capitalists and the parties that defend their interests.

An independent candidacy should propose to unify the struggles and face the treasonous union leadership head-on, as well as proposing an alternate perspective to the regime that is sustained by the PRI, PAN and PRD, fighting for a government of workers and people so that the capitalists pay for the crisis.

It is imperative to forge an electoral campaign with an anti-capitalist, socialist program and the perspective of workers, women and poor peasants. It is necessary to build a political organization that pushes these positions forward and defends them. In the coming days, the campaign and program of these candidates will begin to be organized. We invite our readers to follow these events and debates through Left Voice and La Izquierda Diario México.

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