BORDERTOWN-a 5-Star Movie Review!



BORDERTOWN-a 5-Star Movie Review!


The living breathing James Brown

US Army Veteran

Author of A Panther’s Father Book Series






                BORDERTOWN is a haunting, disturbing Movie, a movie of untold horror, revealing, revetting horror, that a person won’t be able to forget for some time.  Maybe never. A Movie with many powerful statements about tragedies and A stern warning to Parents of young girls and women.  A movie that truly does tell Real “True to Life” Stories THAT MUST BE TOLD!  Should have been told a long time ago.

Mexico’s murdered women find a voice in ‘Bordertown’

Over 5,000 THAT’S 5000 Murders!


            Over 39 years ago, I began taking trips to El Paso, Texas to visit in-laws.  My wife is from El Paso, Texas.  And one of the things that I liked to do was to go over to Juarez, Mexico to buy mostly Vanilla for cooking and making cookies.  Yes, I have a sweet-tooth and I love some good Sugar Cookies with just the right amount of Vanilla in them.  But that Vanilla from Mexico has an almost unique flavor somewhat different tasting from the Vanilla that I can get here in other parts of Texas.

          But, one of the things that troubled me a great deal was what was going on Over in Juarez, Mexico.  The Deaths!  The Brutal Murders!  The Open Slaughtering of Women and they were being dumped, seemed like everywhere over there.  Yes, I was told shocking tales of how dangerous Juarez was becoming.  And, How did I learn of these killings and crime goings on?  Well, we had kinfolk that worked for the United States Customs on the Border and we got told some deep moving sad things-some things as a family and some told only to me being the father of two daughters.  And as the years went by, we were finally told to NEVER GO OVER TO JUAREZ anymore. It was an In My Face WARNING! I mean, JUAREZ was put OFF-LIMITS on our El Paso, Texas trips and kidnapping and murders were, had gotten that bad, that we were told not to go no more. Forbidden to ever go again.  And it did make me wonder if all of Mexico was like that.  And I always found it so contradictory that what was going on in Juarez wasn’t happening in El Paso, Texas.  And yes, it bothered me.  It always bothered me, but then on that last visit to Juarez-

          And on our Last Trip over there, I bought several of the Gossip like Magazines or Newspapers at the Mexican Convenience Stores closest to the BORDER.  And I was aghast to the Horrors that were right there in front of my eyes.  Murders!  I mean graphic photographs of the most brutal and inhumane murdering of young women I had ever seen.  Right there, page after page after page.  It was deeply moving and such ferocity of the Murders! And when I showed them to some Co-Workers, I couldn’t get them back cause they too had never seen any Murder Pic Rags showing freshly killed young women in every sort of foul position that they were left in. 

          I mean it, these were some of the most foul, sick, most horrible images of freshly killed young women I had ever seen.  Haunting images of DEATH!  I mean, far, very much worse than whatever you might be able to find on the Internet.  And then our family in El Paso, Texas Retired  and our Trips to El Paso slowly came to a halt.  But after the Trip when we were told Juarez was Officially OFF LIMITS, i was saddened and the reasons saddened me more-the Cruelty and I am not talking about Drug Cartels.  It was Open Season on Killing, Murdering, and Raping Women over there in Mexico in Juarez.

          Then tonight, I was suddenly reminded of the HORROR that I had witnessed only in photos.  Yes, I was suddenly taken back to all the stories I had been told on the American Side of the BORDER.  And I had viewed the Cardboard City where Mexicans lived in Cardboard Boxes just across the Border.  I mean, if you bought a refrigerator here, it became a Home to a Mexican in Mexico.  And I’m not making this up.  I even spied all of this with High-Powered Binoculars.  Yes, there it was-Cardboard City in Juarez, Mexico.  And then, I saw the Movie that brought back these most haunting, disturbing of images back to me and I can absolutely APPLAUD and THANK the folks that put together the movie-BORDERTOWN


        I RATE this Movie very high as it is a Movie of Social Injustice, of Atrocities, of Social Equity, of Murder, of Rapes, of Human Indifference, and so much more.  It will wane on you for a long time.  And you will ask yourself-Hey, this must be some of that Hollywood B.S. where they want us, the viewers, to feel sorry for the poor Mexicans in Mexico?   Poor little Mexicans being Murdered in Mexico right across from El Paso, Texas.  Right?

   WRONG!  This Movie hits the Truth!

      I am from West Texas and I worked on Ranches with Vaqueros and such and no, this is not a movie to make anyone feel sorry.  This movie is a IN YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAAACE MOVIE!  DISCUSSSSSION of Injustices unleashed upon the World.  Yes, this is going on all over the World and you can call it whatever you would like, but it is Pure CAPITALISM at all costs, none too great, where Money Talks, and B.S. walks.  Where one line in the movie went something like this-There are two kinds of Laws, two sets of Laws in any Country-one set of Laws for the Rich and another set of Laws for all the rest.l of you. And when that line was spoken, it was a very powerful line.  A line that I found the interpretation to be this-It’s OKAY for the Rich to kidnap, rape, and MURDER and then that same morning, our favorite TV Show-The Price is Right was halted right in the best part of the Show where the two Contestants do the Great Price Cost Guess-Off at the end of the Show for a very important NEWS FLASH-HARVEY WEINSTEIN FOUND GUILTY!  And then tonight, I see this movie and hear that Line that stuck in my head.

         And it is way past time for the World and America to realize that what we love as Cheap things and such, well, they come with a Price.  Factory Workers in Mexico making $5 a day in wages for working at a Factory in Mexico.  And friends, it gets worse.  In South Korea a long time ago, the workers were making about $30 a month for 12-hour days, six days a week.  Sure, figure out that one.  And everyone complains when they find a flaw in their shirt or pants or shoes or such.  And no  one thinks about the conditions of the ones making the Products.  But all that we love does come with a Price-a hidden price that we often times never learn about.  But his Movie takes a big bite of Pain and hands it right over to the Viewer.  Yes, this is a Movie about a Disease and that Disease is Capitalism to the fullest.  But Lord have mercy,

          Jennifer Lopez nails it.  I mean a performance of acting that I can only applaud!  A great performance she does, and she is doing an investigative story of the Murders in Juarez and seems most who cover such things in Mexico do come up dead and I heard stories all about that over the Years.  So, there is a very dark, sinister side of Juarez and it will take you to the grave if you go looking for it.  As I write this, I can think of Writers and Reporters that have killed in Mexico trying to bring the Story to the World.

          Antonio Banderas, man, he also nailed it.  He did another fine, absolutely find job of Acting and tell Jennifer to LEAVE HIM OUT OF IT and to let it go, but no, she is determined, and it is again, IN YOUR FACE!  KaPOW!  The exceptional and talented Juices of this Director Gregory Nava is going to put you in Hide Your Face mode as you relate to one or all the characters portrayed in this movie.

          And there is Martin Sheen who is doing another one of his great performances and he lays it down for Jennifer in a Final Blow to Blow scene about How the Real-World Works and it too is IN YOUR FACE!  Kate Del Castillo, Teresa Ruiz, and Sonia Braga…and the Acting is Top Notch! and all of it will pull you into the Story-line and it will make you sit-up and think when the girl crawls up and out of her own grave.  The girl was viciously raped and beaten and then buried Alive and she survives.  She wants to Testify, but the Trauma of the Event keeps haunting her in such a mean way, a vengeful way.

         And then comes the Burning of Cardboard City or Shanty Town and it will sadden you as you watch the little that some have is burned in front of you.  And by this time, you should have finished two large boxes of Popcorn, two Candy Bars, and maybe two sodas.  Or just go for the BEER or Wine and skip the rest.

        But the words that keep coming back to me is this is one very disturbing and haunting movie.  A timely piece today just as much as it was when it first was released om January 29, 2008.  And tonight, I WATCHED it for the first time on HBO 2020 HD.  And I could not close my eyes.  The pace is quick, and you will have to pay attention to what is going on because it is coming at you very quickly.  And when you finish this Movie, I know, I know, I know, you will be asking this-Is this for REAL?  Or is this just a Hollywood made for whatever Movie?

           Folks this is like I said, a very disturbing, haunting movie and why did I say that?  I know the truth.  I was told repeatedly what was taking place in Juarez, Mexico and it wasn’t anything pretty.  Too, I mean, TOO MANY KILLINGS!  Too many Murders!  Too Many Rapes!  It was Mean Town, MEXICO!  But no, when I went to Juarez, Mexico, I didn’t visit any places except where Tourists go to buy or shop and that last trip.  I shouldn’t have bought those Mags, because they opened my eyes to shocking images that I know were not faked in any way.  They were dead, such sad, pictures of dead women, murdered women, raped women.

        And sure, I’d make sure you took note of the Age Requirements for this Movie because it deals with an Adult Situation and Adult Subject Matters.  But has anything changed in the Latest NAFTA Trade Deal?  I don’t know if anyone has read it that I know of, have you?

        But I again applaud anyone who had anything to do with getting this Movie done and to the Theaters and now on HBO.  It is a MUST WATCH!  And if I had someone going to Mexico, then I’d ask them to watch it as well and remember, to always be SAFE AND KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS, especially in a foreign Country.  Thank you, one and all of you.  A Job Well Done!  A Many Fisted-Movie with many deep thoughts for the viewer to digest for sure. 

       Folks, I can only say one last thing-Better Count Your Blessings!

God Bless…the living breathing James Brown, US Army Veteran, author

Now, let’s take a peep at the factory worker pay in Juarez, Mexico from-

Maquiladora Workers in Juarez Form a Union


More than 150 members of the first independent union in Juarez in 30 years held a workers assembly on February 7 to develop their proposed demands to Commscope, formerly known as ADC, a manufacturer of fiberoptic equipment for major telecommunication companies.

Meeting in a hall that usually rented for children’s parties in the Plaza Nogales shopping center, Jorge Raul Garcia, the newly elected general secretary, facilitated the discussion of their first proposed collective bargaining agreement.

Their contract proposal is for 285 pesos per day, $15.62 in U.S. dollars, which is based on a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico on what Mexican workers need to make ends meet on basic necessities.

Jorge worked at Commscope for 16 and-a-half years cutting fiberoptic cable. He made 150 pesos per day. The average wage at Commscope is 115 pesos. New workers are hired at the minimum wage of 75 pesos per day, or $4.11 in U.S. dollars.

They formed the Union of Workers at the ADC Factory. Commscope, or ADC, is producing fiber optics for Verizon, AT&T, Nortel, Telmex, Televisa and a telecommunications company in Scotland.

The union had requested strike authorization from the state Ministry of Labor.

Jorge was skeptical that they would get it. He foresaw an extended struggle that would go beyond state authorities to the federal government.

He said that the company is illegally exerting pressure on the chair of the labor board to declare the union illegal.

Union of Workers protest at ADC Factory
Members of the newly organized Union of Workers at the ADC Factory demonstrate outside the factory gates.

There are around 255,000 workers in Juarez’ 330 maquiladoras, about 13 percent of the national total, making Juarez one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing along the U.S./Mexico border.

According to a survey by the Hunt Institute for Global Competiveness, the average pay of Juarez maquiladora workers was 18 percent less than the average for manufacturing workers in Mexico’s border cities.

In 1993, a partnership between the Mexican labor federation, the Authentic Labor Front (FAT) and the U.S. union, the United Electrical Workers, mounted a union organizing campaign at the General Electric factory, Compania Armadora, but lost the election.

In the mid 1990s, Mexican and U.S. unions cooperated in opening a Center for Labor Studies (CETLAC) to help educate workers about their rights.

However, CETLAC closed its doors last year. Its former director, Daniel Rocha, is focusing on organizing workers in the informal sector, people who shine shoes in the central plaza and people who guide motorists to parking spots on public streets.
Gathering after the worker assembly to give their personal stories, workers passed around a box of tissues, as one after another broke into tears describing their struggle to survive on the low wages.

Ema is a single mother with two sons who makes 900 pesos per week, $49.38 in U.S. dollars. She gets no child support from her sons’ father. After she pays Fonavit, a government housing agency, she has 600 pesos left.

Breaking into tears, Ema said that she had to choose between buying shoes for her sons to go to school or buying food.

She developed a cyst in her wrist from the repetitive motion of turning screws at work. Ema said that her supervisor would count the time she took to go to the bathroom and then ask why she stayed so long.

Veronica Rodriguez, elected Recording Secretary, has worked 11 years at the plant. She said that when it was ADC, the treatment was good but when it changed owners and the name, it became different.

“The situation is intolerable. The Supervisors talk to us with ugly words saying we are idiots, and bad workers. ‘You work slow and don’t meet production,’ they would say,” Veronica said.

She said that she had to work nine hours and then the supervisors wanted the 10 people on her line to work 20 more hours. They had problems with pain in their arms and wrists after that 29 hour shift. Veronica said that there is a nurse at the plant but she does not care about their pain.

Luis Manriquez carries heavy cables and equipment at the plant. He has boots with steel toes that are supposed to be changed every six months but he has had the same boots for three years. The steel toe plate is cutting into his toes.

Luis has worked at the plant for 10 years. He makes 920 pesos per week and after paying Fonavit, he has 720 pesos left. He depends on getting extra overtime but on one occasion, after working extra hours, he was tired and made mistakes. The supervisor ordered him to go home without pay.

Luis said that if workers miss a day they lose half of their attendance bonus. He said bonuses are a mechanism to pressure workers.

Aurelia Mendrano has worked at the plant for 11 years. “The treatment is inhuman,” she said.

Aurelia said that if workers ask for permission to leave work to pick up a sick child from school, the supervisors tell them that it is their problem because they had babies or have “that kind” of husband.

“There is a lot of favoritism. People close to the supervisors get better treatment. The supervisors are like Egyptian pharaohs,” Aurelia said.
Aurelia said that someone sent her chocolate one day. She did not know it was her supervisor until he asked her friend what time she goes to the restroom.

She told her supervisor that she respects him as a supervisor but did not want a relationship. He told her that they could be lovers and he could help her get a better position.

After she rebuffed him, he kept pressuring her. She became sick from the stress and had to spend time in the hospital.

Dulce Maria Roque has worked at the plant for eight years. When her daughter is sick, she must negotiate with the supervisor to take the child to the doctor. The supervisor will say that she can leave half-an-hour early but will have her salary cut in half for the day.

“We are treated with no compassion or understanding of our necessities. The supervisors are without ethics and don’t care about the human person,” she said.

Luz Maria Nava had worked at the plant for 11 years. She had a heart attack on the assembly line. She was in recovery for two months and afterwards could not work extra hours.

When she got a call from the school that her daughter was sick, the human resources office would not let her call anyone to pick up her daughter. They told her that they would cut her salary if she left work.

Luz Maria said that management took the doors off of four of the 10 toilet stalls to discourage women from spending time in the restroom. She said that when they complained, human resources said “what is the problem? You are women with the same things on your body.”

Favoritism is rampant. Luz Maria said that a woman in human resources passed over a more qualified worker to give a position to her husband.

Saul Ruiz has worked at the plant for 15 years. He saw that a friend on his line, Lupita, was sick. She went to human resources to ask if she could go to a doctor. Human Resources said that she could not go. The plant nurse did not check on her. Saul said that she went home and died that night.

“One of the reasons that we requested a union was that no one in the company cared about us. If we have a union, we can take care of each other,” Saul said.

Another worker who was gay also became sick and died. When workers asked management why he died, they were told that “he died because he chose to be gay,” according to Saul.

After these two incidents, three workers went to meet with an attorney to find out how to start a union. The attorney, Cauhetomoc Estrada Sotelo, said to bring together a group of workers for a meeting. More than 200 came to the meeting.

On September 16, Mexican Independence Day, they delivered a petition for a union to the labor tribunal.

When workers who signed the petition showed up at work that day, management told 172 of them that they no longer worked there and the company would tell other maquiladoras not to hire them because they are rebels.

Raul said that they had a planton, an encampment outside the factory gates, for 43 days.

They took down the planton as part of an agreement with the president of the labor commission to be registered as a union. It took a further sit-in of the commission offices but on December 21, they were certified as a legal union.

As a union, they are demanding a collective bargaining agreement from the company and filing a strike petition with the labor tribunal. They are expecting the labor tribunal to deny them permission and then they will appeal to the federal labor board.

Their demands to the company are to reinstate the 172 fired workers and back pay since November 19, and to sign a collective bargaining agreement with a minimum wage of 285 pesos per day, increased from the current average of 115 pesos per day.

They are demanding that mothers who have children in child care or school be allowed to leave to get their children with no decrease in their salary or bonus. Also, if they have to go to a medical appointment, they would not lose wages if they show a prescription as proof.

Of the 172 fired workers, 106 are women and 49 are heads of household.

At the furthest point in south Juarez, past a roundabout Glorieta a Benito Juarez, highway signs carry the names of maquiladoras such as Planta Electrolux. The highway has four lanes and tall metal poles hold four street lights each. Huge steel poles more than 100 feet high carry large power lines.

On a dirt patch next to the driveway to the Lexmark plant, workers pitched tents and continued a planton for more than 6 weeks. Miriam Delgado Hernandez, coordinator, expressed their fear of being disappeared like the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers’ college in the state of Guerrero in 2014.

This year Juarez is celebrating 50 years of the Border Industrial Program, which opened the door to the maquiladora boom.

While production is booming, wages and working conditions are deteriorating.

The minimum wage is hovering just above $4 per day as the peso is rapidly devalued.

According to Cecilia Espinosa, a former maquiladora worker who is currently on staff at the Mesa de Mujeres, a women’s human rights group, since 1982 the minimum wage has been losing purchasing power. Last year, the minimum wage of 70.10 pesos per day lost 68 percent of its value.

Previously, young people usually paid 50 percent of their income to their parents, according to Cecilia. Now, all family members of working age need to work full time to support the household.

The Mexican president and governor of Chihuahua have traveled overseas to lure more production to Mexico. As wages are rising in China because of labor unrest, they are trying to capture market share in advance of the implementation of the Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP will open access to Vietnam and Malaysia as low-wage areas in competition with Mexico.

There has been a black-out of coverage of the protests in the Juarez media. The February 7 edition of the local paper had a full page spread denying that there are problems in the maquiladoras.

A former maquila worker from Eaton Busman, one of the plants with a labor dispute, Antonia “Toñita” Hinojosa Hernández, ran for mayor in the June 5 election to call attention to the grievances of workers.

While actually winning was a moon-shot, organizing the campaign to reach the 250,000 maquiladora workers in the city was a vehicle to organize workers in the maquiladoras. They launched a civic association called Maquiladora Workers of Juarez.

On the U.S. side, labor and community activists have been organizing in support of the Juarez maquila workers.

A group of students met at the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) to plan a student group to support Juarez maquiladora workers.

A labor support group, the Kentucky Workers League, picketed the Lexmark headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, last January.

The San Francisco Labor Council passed a resolution in support of the maquiladora workers at its meeting on February 8. It sent letters to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Chihuahua Governor Cesar Duarte, Juarez Municipal President Javier González, the Chihuahua Secretary of Labor Fidel Perez and Lexmark corporate headquarters calling on them to protect workers rights to organize and demonstrate, to reinstate fired workers and to recognize their union.

A similar resolution was passed by the El Paso Central Labor Union on January 13 and the Texas AFL-CIO state labor federation on January 20.
The AFL-CIO issued a message of solidarity on January 11 and called on the U.S. government to review any purchases from these suppliers that may be receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars while they violate labor rights.

Even U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso visited the planton outside the Lexmark plant and had his picture taken with workers. His parents own maquiladoras. His father-in-law is Bill Foster who built the power-house business alliance, the Verde Group.

The Border Institute, a faith-based group from both sides of the border, held a meeting on February 6 in Juarez with a workshop, “Discussion on Globalization and the Border Economy.” They discussed “Laudato, Si” or “Praise be to you” an encyclical letter by Pope Francis on the environment, production and work.

Father Benjamin Cadena described Border Theology. People idolize the market like the biblical golden calf. The fetish is now the economic system called Neoliberalism. Money is the new god that replaces the god of life. The desert is a place for communion and solidarity and the preferential treatment of the poor, moving through darkness by loving the light.

Father Cadena said that Pope Francis has spoken about structural or social sin that creates inequality.

Sin is within society as lack of justice and those who pay the highest price for the impunity of the rich are the poor, according to Father Cadena.

While the Border Institute did not take a formal action, activists at the meeting began organizing to publish a letter in a local paper to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to Juarez on February 17.

They published a full-page ad that described an oppressive and exploitative social reality for workers in Juarez.

While the Pope met with some selected maquiladora workers, his visit was tightly choreographed to present Juarez as a safe place for investment.

© Copyright San Francisco Living Wage Coalition 2020

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