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Mexican speaker defines migration issues

Sharing perspectives on migration and social movements among indigenous people on Oaxaca, Mexico, Centolia Maldonado Vázquez told of the influence of oil, drug trafficking, remittances, tourism and coffee in undermining communities, families and culture.

Centolia Maldonade
Centolia Maldonado Vazquez

Speaking at Whitworth University as part of the Witness for Peace Northwest fall speakers tour, she gave insights into the migration to the United States.

“Migration results in breakup of families and loss of culture in the communities of origin. In destination communities, migrants find poor infrastructure, discrimination, racism and violation of collective and individual rights,” Centolia said.

Through her work with the Indigenous Front of Bi-National Organizations (FIOB), she helps with the development and self-determination of migrant and non-migrant indigenous people, assuring human rights, justice and gender equity across borders.

She said migration arises from the decline in agricultural production, other jobs and the market for textile, clay, handicraft and agricultural products.

Before the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), basic foods were produced locally. Families used commonly owned land. There were diverse native seeds, abundant, clean water and government-controlled prices.

Since NAFTA, less food is grown locally, land is bought and sold, the land is less fertile, there are more genetically modified seeds, and water is scarce and contaminated, she said, and fewer locally produced goods sell because of competition of subsidized U.S. products.

“The FIOB believes Mexico and the United States need political, economic, legal and social changes to eliminate the causes of misery, the lack of respect for workers’ rights, unemployment, health problems, political and police repression, governmental corruption and the lack of democracy,” Centolia said. “The FIOB seeks a strategy that both respects international treaties and indigenous people’s rights.

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By Mary Stamp, The Fig Tree - Copyright © November 2007