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Tale of Two Mexicos

Maquila: A Tale of Two Mexicos runs 55 minutes and is a documentary filmed in Mexico that lays open to sight and sound the lives of contemporary Mexicans at the border, with a special insight into the people surrounding the maquiladora industry. It was featured for its educational value at the recent two day forum produced by the Humanities Center of De Paul University Chicago called, "Sweatshops, Cross-Border Trade and the Global Economy." As an educational tool the film provides an overview of the abuses, non-living wages, environmental, working and living conditions of workers and their families in the maquiladora industry. It depicts the labor conflicts between workers and the factories, while also depicting the conflict between indigenous peasants in the rural interior in conflict with the Mexican army. Many of these same people are found at the border having traveled north from the Mexican interior searching for work in the Maquiladoras. In the film Saul Landau and Sonia Angulo allow the audience to hear the voices of the actors in the human drama that unfolds at the border daily in the Maquiladoras, the militarized border, the migrant laborers who come from the interior, the peasants fighting for the freedom to stay on their lands, the workers in labor struggles with the factories and the city developers of the Maquiladoras and investors. There are scenes showing the victimization of environmental disasters and the indifference or denial by factory owners that their production processes contribute to the damage with the release of toxic clouds of pollutants. The more painful aspects of the film surround the rapes and murders of young maquila women workers in Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

As an educational overview the film is excellent. The shots introducing the "corrido" style of songs about women in the maquilas is a little odd. A better soundtrack appears towards the end of the film with the rap beat "Something happening at the border, it's a new world order." The theme of "Two Mexicos" is subject to wide interpretation--is it the two conflicts between the Mexican government and its working poor and working class? Is it a struggle between the good and the evil of the maquila industries?

The film is available from Cinema Guild (1-800-723-5522) (
at the institutional price of $295.00 or $59.95 for individual home use.