Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Widows and abandoned women take on field work in the Valle

El 7-15-2012.

Guadalupe., D.B.-- She moves the hoe with dexterity. Coquettishly, she tucks a rebellious lock of  hair behind one ear, then she wipes the sweat from her face. It's Maria del Carmen Chavez Rodriguez, single mother who is working temporarily in the cotton fields of the Valle de Juarez.

Here, work is scarce, but women like Maria are not afraid to perform field work so they can take some money home where children or parents await. They also don't have any options.

"The violence left us a lot of single, widowed or abandoned women because their husbands fled,"  explains Raul Gonzalez, foreman of one of the ranches that produces cotton in Guadalupe municipality.

The farming communities in this area, located east of Ciudad Juarez, have been fought over by the Sinaloa and the Juarez cartels for drug and weapons smuggling. Its privileged geographical location, which includes hundreds of unguarded miles between Mexico and the United States, led to a battle for control of the corridor, and left dozens of women totally unprotected, among them mothers and wives.

Many opted for moving to Juarez, others took temporary refuge on the other side of the border because they had dual citizenship of had children born in the United States, but, little by little, they are returning to their homes where they are faced, mainly, with lack of jobs.

A report by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) from 2011, says that Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman displaced the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes cartel in the Valle de Juarez. It was that dispute that triggered the violence, unusual for these communities who are facing, among other things, with the dismantling of their police forces, whose commanders and officers were killed by criminal groups. With a severely impacted economy, job offers are minimal and few persons are able to find good jobs. One of these is Maria.

Her boss speaks with pride about his employee. She's the best, he declares. "Women are good in all kinds of jobs, very reliable and they are not complainers," asserts the man who convinced the owner of the property to offer employment to women.

"They have families," says Raul, "and just like us, they are working to care for their children. You treat them well, you show them understanding, because they are women who have suffered a lot."

In front of him, Maria doesn't stop working. She's embarrassed to be the center of attention and while she chops the weeds with her hoe, she tries to avoid the camera.

"I just started to work on Monday," she explains, "The work is easy, I just have to clean the cotton plants." She means that she uses the hoe to "clean" the cotton by removing the grass, weeds, climbing vines, thorns, morning glory and "lechugilla" that grow close to the cotton plant. With the hoe she pulls the soil to one side without damaging the the growing plant. And, although the work looks easy, her calloused hands are evidence that it is not.

Maria says she is familiar with field work; this is not the first time she has worked in a field like this and, although the sun beats down mercilessly at the time of the interview, she likes the open air and the tranquillity that only the field can provide. 

"I feel good here, free, it's much better than working in a maquila  (assembly plant), but one needs a full time job because this is temporary, but it's real nice!" she says with a smile.

For one day's work, Maria will earn 120 pesos (about $9.00) which will go towards feeding her seven children and her parents. All of them depend on her pay, and it is because of them that cleaning the soil with a hoe is not heavy work.

"There are a lot of us women here who work in the fields, we're not afraid to do this work, we're familiar with it, we grew up here. Also, we don't have many employment options, and that's why we take advantage of the fact that the cotton planting season is going well," she explains.

Maria del Carmen shows more enthusiasm and says that after this work comes the cotton and pecan picking seasons, which women, men and children take advantage of to find work.

"It's normal now for this work to be done by men, women and even children and young people," she believes, "they come here to work and don't pick up bad habits, so for them, the younger ones, this is also very good."  

This single mother works eight hours a day, Monday through Saturday. "We come to work at 7:00 in the morning and leave at 4:00 in the afternoon," she explains. In between, Maria and her fellow workers have a few minutes for breakfast and lunch. Sometimes they cook their own food on a metal disc that they heat with scraps of wood they themselves gather. They have time to rehydrate chat a little, joke and go back to work.

Raul Gonzalez says that the women are very competent field workers and, because they are neighbors who have known each other all their lives, a lot of them share the same tragic loss of a loved one to violence, so they provide support for each other.

"We treat each other as equals, with respect," he declares, "I would say that women don't think in a "macho" manner, that there are many jobs that only men can do, but we can learn, and we all need to make a living and we have the right to work with dignity, to raise our children, with decent employment in the fields, in a factory, wherever." 


Despite the fact that recent rains caused serious damage to pavement and drainage in the city, in the farming communities the rain was seen as a great blessing.

"The drought has been affecting us a lot, but now that it has rained you can see the cotton plants are happier, more leafy, that's the benefit that rain brings us. It also brings jobs for the people because you have to clean out the weeds. For example, I hired ten workers, but I'm going to put in another ten on Monday, among them four single mothers, so they can come work here," says the ranch foreman.

After months without a single drop of rain, the farmers in the area were praying for a "good rain," which is what they got this past week. The foreman explains that cotton is irrigated with with water released from reservoirs in the United States. Very little comes from wells, he says, because it is too expensive, but rainwater is best and this will increase the quality of the crop which is still considered some of the highest quality (cotton) in the world.


  1. This would break my fuckin heart if i had to learn my woman was having to do this because my sad ass wasn't man enough to take care of her and my children.What is a man without a woman?
    Woman is gods gift to us men,simple as that to me.
    She has your children,she gets on with taking care of them,she runs everything under the surface.I know the value of women,do you.

  2. SEVEN KIDS???? If your that poor, stop making kids so they can suffer like you do! Yah, it's fun to "make" them, but it's a life time of feeding them they seem to overlook! $9 split ten ways, all because people can't stop their urges. Or is it the horny men that these women got hooked up who's machismo trumps all common sense? Here you go, Pope! Why don't you guys feed all these kids after you tell them not to use birth control! Oh well. These women work harder than most of the ones on our side who sit in the DES office with their fake painted nails and their iPhones, waiting to get some of that free welfare money and the EBT card.

    1. You tell me brother, I've seen it, even men collecting food stamps and welfare check for years without even trying to look for a job, not even a part time job. When in April I filed my income tax I had tax deduction for almost 7,000 dollars and still had to pay back another 2,800 dollars I felt like commiting sucide. I know how you feel.

    2. What about the Appalachian and morons in Utah that are doing the same off the government,and some are third and fourth generations on food stamps

  3. My heart goes out to these strong women.

    More arrest expected this week following deputies indictment
    Posted: Jul 15, 2012 9:40 AM

    Updated: Jul 15, 2012 9:55 AM

    STARR COUNTY - More arrests are expected this week following the indictment of a starr county sheriff's deputy.

    According to federal court records, Nazario Solis and another un-named Sheriff's Deputy are accused of taking bribes.

    Solis started working with the department in 2009. Records show the other deputy, not named in the indictment started working at the starr county sheriff's office in 2004.

    Solis and the other deputy face charges of bribery, extortion, conspiracy.

    According to the documents, Solis called himself "the person in charge."[over here on the US side of the border]

    The phone conversation was allegedly recorded while Solis tried to hammer out an illegal weapons deal for his quote "boss."

    Exactly who he was working for in Mexico is not clear.

    We'll keep you posted on additional arrests.

    krgv has this and much more drug cartel activity from the USA side.

  5. .

  6. @ 9:20 "I had tax deduction for almost 7,000 dollars and still had to pay back another 2,800 dollars. I felt like commiting sucide."

    If you had a $7,000 dollar deduction and still owed $2,800, you were making PLENTY OF MONEY. So stop WHINING ALREADY! I make WAY LESS THAN YOU, but you don't see me crying about it like a little B****!

    1. Yes! I work my ass off as a truck driver, took me 24 years to own 4 trucks, and I work for my wife and kids, not to support a bunch of lazy ass people. It is not my fault that I make more money than you make, this only means that I'm more intelligent than you are and that I work harder than you do. You don't cry about it because you must be one of those poeple standing in line to beg for food stamps and welfare checks and you don't pay and if you don't pay any taxes you don't have any right to get benefits. Or you are one of those mexicans who are: CON LA PANZA AQUI Y EL CORAZÓN. ALLÁ. " Wirh the stomach here in the USA and your heart in Mexico.

    2. I would like that all my tax dollars go to either the Department Of Defense or to the Customs And Border Protection, (Homeland Security) if you know what that is; not to a bunch of lazy ass people.

  7. those big nad evil gringos in America are irrigating their fields, for free? Hmmm

  8. .
    Being in the sun for a few hours can be very de-energizing but to have to work 8 hours a day 6 days a week is not good for health. And if any of them get sick THEN WHAT?, who will take care of any of the sick women, the worker who was feeding a family? And till when will they be doing this, till they're 65?! Who would want to do that type of work for even 10 years?

    These women need a future and the Slave Labor needs to be replaced with something MUCH better. Let machines do the work, give these women something easier to do.

    If I had a big bundle of money I would not hesitate making a big difference in as many people lives as possible & without delay, these are my true feelings.


    1. Those women are widows or are alone because their husbands are dead or in jail only because they made bad decisions, because they didn't want to work hard, they wanted easy money, and well shit happens, but that doesn't mean that we tax payers have to support their families. Everyone needs help at sometime in their lives, but supporting people on welfare and food stamps for years is not right.

  9. He said:

    "I would like that all my tax dollars go to either the Department Of Defense or to the Customs And Border Protection, (Homeland Security) if you know what that is; not to a bunch of lazy ass people.
    July 16, 2012 3:29 PM"


    We need to know who wrote that message -->

    "I would like that all my tax dollars go to either the Department Of Defense or to the Customs And Border Protection, (Homeland Security) if you know what that is; not to a bunch of lazy ass people.
    July 16, 2012 3:29 PM "

    You are only trying to PROVOKE and so I want to know WHO you REALLY ARE. Your ID PLEASE?!!!!



    1. Hey! What about your I'D! Don't ask for someone else's without showing yours!

  10. No! I am not trying to provoke like you said. But as I said took me 24 years to own 4 big trucks, and I paid thousands of dollars in taxes. The only thing you need to know is that I am a mexican american with lots of family on both sides of the border. Besides that I am a disabled combat veteran. I served many years with the 82nd, and my 6 sons have served either in Iraq or Afghanistan. I, like I said paid thousands of dollars a year in taxes, plus whatever I paid in social security.and medicare, I old and still can not afford to retire, because the politicians at the top.of.the US Government put a lot of money.helping people who at least 80% don't want even to try to find a job. If I want my tax money to go to the defense department or homeland security is for the only reason that we need to provide our soldiers with whatever they need abroad to finish their job, so they can come and help to protect our borders, and if needed go into Mexico to end the cartels bullshit of killing innocent people.

  11. All this arguing is irrelevant. The women are in MEXICO! They are working in MEXICO! There's not a penny of U.S. tax dollars going to their support. All this talk about how these women made mistakes, had too many children, were not born Republican, etc., is simply not relevant to the issues.

  12. Hola ->> July 17, 2012 12:12 AM <<--

    I truly appreciate your honesty and ability to communicate about your life in many details and what you wrote about your life meant something to me.

    It's a complicated world in many ways and for too many people things are not going well and WHO wouldn't want to see more people doing better?!

    As for my reaction to what you wrote where in your view, "Mexicans are lazy" I have a different view and all the Mexicans I am or have been con tact with are very hard workers and they feel good about themselves yet, they are underpaid big time, so much so that they can't keep up! Now we must also keep in mind that THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAT WORK WORK WORK, this must also be a life of having enough time off TO LIVE & TO CELEBRATE OUR EXISTENCE ON EARTH, of having pleasant experiences in our own free time, with family, with friends.

    I want to see Mexican people attain higher living standards, more wealth, less slavery, less hardship, THIS IS ON MY MIND & IN MY HEART everyday.

    When you said that Mexicans are lazy I jumped to the conclusion that you are an American and I got very upset because of things I have heard said about Mexicans where there seemed to be a complete absence of empathy toward the hardship that a great many Mexicans are unable to escape no matter how hard they try to better their situation.

    The only ones I have a problem with are those involved in serious crime hi-jacking the Mexico bogging it down, destroying life and forcing A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF PAIN & SUFFERING ON TO OTHERS! That EVIL force must be s.t.o.p.p.e.d. somehow.

    PS, beware of American propaganda about terrorist hiding under every rock! REMEMBER, bring into your awareness how things were BEFORE this 9/11 event was rammed down the American people's throat: WHERE WERE THE TERRORISTS BEFORE 9 / 11? !!!, and suddenly THE BOOGEYMEN MAN IS EVERYWHERE & EVERYBODY NOW MUST GIVE UP ALL THEIR RIGHTS YET WHAT HAVE THE AMERICANS BEEN DOING SINCE THAT EVENT? BOMBING COUNTRIES, KILLING CITIZEN, OVER THROWING GOVERNMENTS, ¿SOUND LIKE AN AGENDA TO YOU?!! All the wars America HAS CREATED were well planned A LONG TIME BEFORE 9 / 11 APPEARED !!

    The USA has been handed the task of bringing in the New World Order & that's why they are in foreign countries right now to destroy all sovereign nations & to destroy the values of those people.


    1. Like I said, I have lots of family in both sides of the border. But I hate to see thousands of young people joining the cartels and risking their life for a few dollars. That's what I think they are lazy because they don't like to get a regular, 8 hours a day job, I know it is hard to do so in small towns. But it is not so hard in the big cities right on the border, like El Paso, San Diego, Laredo or Brownsville. About the food stamps and welfare check offices, there is lots of corruption at the highest levels of managment, that's see people that never worked, and that are able to work collecting benefits for years and driving brand new Cadillacs, when the regular hard working, honest citizen is lucky as hell if he/she can drive a 2000-2007 Toyota. See what I mean?

  13. Hola --> July 18, 2012 8:43 AM <<-

    I simply want to acknowledge that I have red your latest message at this late hour of the night. You are a fine good guy.

    Cuidate mucho compa.

    Nos vemos.



  14. Take care brother! We only have one life, and at least I, want to live mine to the last minute and live it the best I can. I'm old and I have to push myself to the limit every day so I can log between 650 and 700 miles a day so my truck and my work togheter can make a profit. I want to take an early retirement at 62 so I can spend some quality time with my family and my grandchildren. I hope that God gives me a few more years. Cuidate mucho hermano. Dios te bendiga a ti y tu familia. Atte. Veterano.


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