A group of ten Mexican American women have begun a hunger strike in front of the White House to protest the poverty and violence that has plagued the U.S./Mexico border for years.
Their goal is to increase federal funding for border towns. Cindy Arnolds, the organizer of the hunger strike, told Notimex, "We want to draw public and political attention to the need to invest in the development of communities along the border. There is too much poverty, unemployment and violence."
Arnolds explained that the government has invested in border security in the region, but declared that "we women understand that real security comes from sustainable communities and the ability to lead a dignified life."
Extreme poverty is a horrible problem along the border, and though communities have attempted to create their own jobs by encouraging entrepreneurship and opening small, local shops, it hasn't been enough. There isn't enough money coming in from the government to build any sustainable infrastructure for job creation.
Over 35% of the border population live in poverty and five of the 10 poorest urban centers in the country lie along the U.S./Mexico border. NAFTA exacerbated the situation, taking many factory jobs south across the border into Mexico, where companies enjoy special tax breaks and don't have to worry as much about employee conditions.
“They are investing in security and we thought that that money would have a positive impact on the local economy in El Paso, Texas. We thought there would be jobs for us, but that has not been the case," said Martha Cano, a member of the Border Women Workers organization.