Yesterday I pointed to the blog of the spouse of a US Embassy staffer reflecting on his two years in El Salvador. Today I'm recommending for a different view you take a look at the blog of essays written by students of a Jesuit college prep school, Brophy College Prep, in Phoenix. These essays reflect on the students' recently completed summer immersion trip to El Salvador. Through the eyes of these high school students we learn, for example, of economic injustice in the form of harsh working conditions in maquiladora factories:
To start, I would like to give a quick overview of the social and economic situation that Maquila workers struggle with. The vast majority of Maquila workers are women, and the average salary of those working at a Maquila is $187 a month. That breaks down to $6.25 a day, $0.78 an hour. This becomes even more devastating when one considers that 45% of the homes in El Salvador are entirely dependent on the income of the mother. Women are forced to feed huge families on less than a living wage, but somehow they make their situation work. Further, women are made to work 44 hours a week. As a result, single mothers have to leave their children at home, without supervision, while they subject themselves to subhuman wages. This, of course, opens the door for gangs and violence to infiltrate the family. Many wonder why El Salvador is the hub of transnational gangs, but they do not question the social structures that facilitate their creation. As humans we must question and seek to change these inequities.
The conditions that women in the Maquilas struggle with are also horrendous. For instance, the women are often sexually harassed by their managers. In normal working conditions these women could simply report these instances, but that is not the case here. Instead, women know that they will simply be fired if they complain, so they accept learn to accept the harassment. In addition, every woman in the factory is at risk of being fired. The economic situation in El Salvador is so bad that, as one woman stated, “There are ten people here waiting on the streets to replace us.” Women also have to meet ridiculous quotas in order to make a measly $2 extra. In order to do so they work constantly, and often skip lunch. The women are essentially slaves, for their basic humanity is violated each and every day.Read the entire group of essays here.