Maquilapolis (2006)

Maquilapolis is a documentary film directed by Vicky Funari and Sergio de la Torre. It depicts the working environment in Mexico explicitly to the audience. The laborers are mostly women who worked in the assembly factories in Tijuana, and these factory workers are referred to as the maquiladoras. The filmmakers exposed these multinational factories that came to Mexico for cheap labor. Many women are interviewed during this film but we are focused on the story of two women and their lives. One of them was Carmen; who worked hard for her children and family. She states that women were treated unjustly, and they were exposed to chemicals and bad smells such as burned plastics. Carmen went through this torture every day in order to feed her children and provide them a better life. Carmen suffers from kidney damage due to the exposure of deadly chemicals in the factory.She received six dollars per day and that too she complained the supervisor wouldn’t pay in full. Carmen states, “They leave with their hands full and ours empty.”

Another woman is Lourdes Lujan who worked with Carmen. Lourdes displays her hands in front of the camera and says that she has hives all over her body. She states, “we breathe lead every day and when we return to our home from these factories, it’s hard to be with our kids because everything needs to be done separately such as washing our clothes to making food.” After realizing that no one can help these workers unless they are willing to help themselves, they took a major step towards the change they wanted for the future. They filed a labor claim to get their severance pay and fought for their labor rights that they deserved. The film revealed the hazardous conditions, long hours, low wages, and pollution these women faced. Eventually, Carmen and Lourdes and many other women workers puts pressure on the government to clean up toxic wastes in the factories and they also created a powerful slogan called, “Tijuana is no trash can.” Maquilapolis shows that corporations are given the freedom by globalization to wander around the world, searching for cheap labor.

Meanwhile, the workers campaign reinforces the idea that an union group of workers can successfully demand the laws to be implemented. It reflects on the importance of unity which can really challenge the authorities to reach favorable outcomes for the common public. We are given the sense of reality and the struggle of these working class women. The film not only involved the lives of these women, but also gave them a chance to articulate each of their stories. It certainly unveiled the true conditions of these people that left most of us shocked and terrified. The main message of the film is that someone needs to take the initiative in order to get the necessary changes for their community.

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