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Mexican women's activist Leyda Silva speaks in San Francisco

by Rubble
Rubble interviews Leyda Silva, a leading member of the Socialist Worker's Party of Mexico (POS). She is a teacher in Mexico City, has worked on student issues and been jailed for six weeks for involvement in UNAM struggles. She was in San Francisco for the annual Radical Women socialist-feminist-based conference held on October 3-6 in San Francisco, where she spoke on a panel entitled "Magnificant Warriors: Female Leadership in the Global Freedom Struggle". The interview takes place in the Women's Building on October 4 during the Conference. (33 minutes)
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Leyda Silva is a leading member of the Socialist Worker’s Party of Mexico (POS). She is originally from Oaxaca and works as a teacher in Mexico City. She was an organizer in the student struggle at UNAM and was jailed for six weeks because of her involvement. She spoke at the Radical Women Conference at the Women’s Building in San Francisco on October 4.

In this interview, she speaks in fact-based detail on problems Mexican women have with employment and abortion. She frames the employment issues in the context of NAFTA. NAFTA was “sold” to Mexicans with the promise of improving wages and overall employment conditions in Mexico through the use of well-endowed U.S. Corporations. However, the result has been the opposite. Wages and other employment conditions have been driven down by involvement of U.S. Corporations (in my own research back then, it appeared U.S. Corporations clearly drove down wages as early as the first year of the agreement), which have employed women almost exclusively in their lower-standard operations. Leyda reports that the U.S. corporations are barely accountable to relatively weak Mexican labor protections, viewed as able to handle their own affairs

Mexicans have a significant rate of abortions despite historically being illegal. Abortion has recently been decriminalized and provided on a limited basis in Mexico City. While this is a step in the right direction, Leyda explains that abortion and a full range of reproductive services need to be accessible to all Mexican women.

Law enforcement repression is being ratcheted up through U.S. involvement, as currently seen in Central American countries participating in CAFTA. Versions of the Merida Initiative Plan, derisively referred to by U.S. anti-trade agreement activists as “Plan Mexico”, have been passed in the Senate and House, voted for in both wings by a majority of Democrats and either predominantly opposed or split relatively evenly by Republicans. It provides resources, equipment, and training for the Mexican military and for “strengthening of military-to-military cooperation between the U.S. And Mexico.”

While it purports to target drug trafficking, the similar bill in existence in Columbia (Plan Columbia) has resulted in significant levels of violence and repressive against activists and insurgent organizations. “Plan Mexico” also includes $210 million over 2 years to expand the US’s draconian anti-immigrant policy to the Mexico side of the border. Mexico is a portal to the US for undocumented Central Americans, so this aspect of the Plan will also have an effect on CAFTA enforcement. Salvadorans are currently facing increasing police harassment and violence simultaneous with operation of a U.S. funded police academy called ILEA.
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People should call the Congressional/Senate switchboard: (202) 224- 3121

to demand that current funding allocations to the Mexican security forces under Bush's Merida Initiative (Plan Mexico) be put on hold b/c of the cover-up of u.s. journalist brad will's murder; and that his murder, the murder of many Mexican activists in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Atenco and elsewhere in Mexico and throughout the Latin American and Caribbean countries whose brutal militaries/police be resolved BEFORE such funding or any more funding is supported BY YOUR CONGRESS PEOPLE/SENATORS!

Call them, please.

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