WASHINGTON -- The following is being released today by La Mujer Obrera:
Eleven low-income women living in the U.S.-Mexico border, the most impoverished region of this nation, launched a hunger strike in front of the White House November 8, 2010, to call attention to economic conditions in the region. Today, the women made the final action of the hunger strike, followed by a closing ceremony in front of the White House, leading up to the women's first bites of solid food at noon and a press conference.
The U.S.-Mexico border, has a long history of economic abandonment and exploitation - most recently as a result of international trade agreements, border security initiatives, anti-immigrant sentiment and the war on drugs. As a result, the region has the lowest in per capita income in the nation and an unemployment rate historically 250-300% higher than the rest of the country.
The border women, who embody both the poverty and the promise of the border region, are mothers and grandmothers of low-income backgrounds who drove 2,000 miles by van and fasted in front of the White House for 10 full days.
Due to their efforts a group of federal officials are planning to visit the border to continue the dialogue that was initiated in the last 10 days.
Border women, who are at disproportionate risk of unemployment and poverty, have resisted playing the role of victims and are rebuilding their communities with dignified courage. They are exercising the right to determine their own destiny and work towards the meaningful development of their communities to improve the quality of life of their children and grandchildren.
Genuine security must include women's development and economic empowerment. Government and philanthropic institutions have made such investments a core focus at the international level, but have neglected to invest in similar efforts in impoverished communities in the United States.
The women have demonstrated that they are neither invisible nor disposable, and that they have a plan for the rebuilding of their communities. "You've funded the border wall, now invest in border communities," said Ana Gomez, one of the hunger strikers.