A new book on binational migration by a UC Santa Cruz researcher and UC MEXUS grant recipient illuminates the dark side of economic globalization.
The Farmworkers' Journey, by Ann Aurelia López,1 describes a binational migrant farmworkers' circuit that stretches from the west central Mexico countryside to central California. López, a 1999 UC MEXUS dissertation grant recipient,2 spent 10 years interviewing farmworkers and their families along the migrant circuit. She intermingles their voices with up-to-date research to portray a world hidden from most Americans-a world of inescapable poverty that has worsened since NAFTA was implemented in 1994.
The Farmworkers' Journey demonstrates how corporate agribusiness operates, how genetically modified corn strains pouring into Mexico from the United States are affecting farmers, how binational institutions and laws promote the subjugation of Mexican farmworkers, how migrants face exploitation from employers and how migration affects family life. Most dramatically, the book shows that it has become nearly impossible for rural communities in Mexico to continue to support themselves by farming the land, leaving few survival options except the perilous border crossing to the United States.
"This book tells a powerful and moving story of lives affected by agricultural and trade policies, migration, and the dehumanization of farm workers," wrote Alejandro Nadal, an economist who heads the Science, Technology and Development Program at El Colegio de México. "The text is an eye-opening blend of academic research and testimonials of the people directly touched by the powerful market forces that have been unleashed by trade liberalization."
López received a doctoral degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2002 and completed a President's Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. She has a long history of teaching environmental science, ecology and botany courses in the Department of Biology at San Jose City College. She is a visiting professor and research associate at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is in the process of establishing a non-profit organization designed to improve the lives of California farmworkers and their families in Mexico.
She is helping to preserve the traditional campesino corn strains in a remote Jalisco village by establishing a market for the non-genetically modified corn (maiz criollo) in the Latino community of San Jose. López also is helping to establish community-based market that provides organic produce by working with people in the Willow Glen community and the east-side San Jose Latino community.
1 University of California Press; June 5, 2007
2 Ann Aurelia López, Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz (Patricia Zavella). From the Farms of West Central Mexico to California's Corporate Agribusiness: The Social Transformation of Two Binational Farming Regions.