Our first chapter in Mexico, ACORN Tijuana, was organized at the behest of Mexican ACORN members in San Diego. With their help and encouragement, we launched ACORN Tijuana in 2005, and immediately began working on issues that affected BOTH Mexico and the United States. One of our first campaigns focused on the industrial waste created by Maquiladora factories near the US/Mexico border, which was dumped very close to where our members were housed. Through a collective effort, we secured guarantees from the Maquiladoras to properly treat industrial waste, repair leaks, and dump it in a secure area far from residents’ homes. We also secured green spaces and regular neighborhood cleanups for our members who were living in Maquiladora housing, which was surrounded by concrete and burdened with enormous heaps of accumulated waste.
After three years of organizing in Tijuana, we expanded to Mexico City in January 2008. Thus far, our fledgling office has conducted several small scale campaigns around security issues. Our most important work, however, has been building alliances that will allow us to conduct great campaigns in the future. For example, right now ACORN Mexico City is in the process of negotiating with local doctors at the University of Xochimilco, a highly regarded university with a great community health program. With their help, we are devising a community health worker training program that will serve low-income members by providing care AND engaging in advocacy around healthcare issues. We are developing a similar model for other ACORN International offices as well.
With our initial successes in mind, ACORN Mexico is eager to continue to grow its membership and to conduct larger-scale campaigns around all of the important issues that our members face–problems that can only be combated by a well informed citizenry that is willing and able to collectively demand accountability on the part of the governments that serve the. ACORN Mexico is using the strength of an organized majority to create real improvements in their neighborhoods.