Maquilapolis [City of Factories]
A film by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre
2006, 68 min.
Available from Teaching for Change
By Julie Treick O'Neill
Push, assemble, remove, push, assemble, remove. A line of women are dressed alike in blue smocks that indicate their respective positions in one of Tijuana, Mexico's 4,000 factories. They are the manufacturing "machines" corporations so desire in the global economy. Silently, they push, assemble, remove, push, assemble, remove.
But as the film continues, the power of Maquilapolis, (City of Factories) is evident-the women come alive, sharing their dilemmas, resistance, and hope. The film follows two former maquiladora workers, Lourdes Lujan and Carmen Duran, as they take on the multinational corporations harming their community and infringing on workers' rights. The women are promotoras, members of a social justice group organized to educate and empower the thousands of Tijuana maquiladora workers.
Tijuana has a long history of multinational corporations exploiting Mexican women. As the film's narrator explains: "They said we would make a good workforce because we had agile hands and would be cheap and docile." A 1960s treaty between the United States and Mexico created some of the first assembly centers and then this model-imported U.S. goods, assembled in Mexico and then exported back to the United States and the world-exploded in 1994 as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA.