This October, we will host Julia Vallejos, a Nicaraguan fair trade advocate credited as a founding member of Masilí; a free trade zone factory. Julia will give her perspectives on how free trade policies and U.S. corporate practices have affected her community and the choices we as consumers can make to support alternative trade models like Masilí.
Julia will visit 4 states, she will be in Kentucky from October 5th to the 9th, in Nashville, Tenessee on October 10th, in Asheville, NCfrom October 12th-14th, in the Triad on October 15th, the NC Triangle October 16-20, and in Virginia October 21-25. More details on speaking events will be posted here.
Contact Ron Garcia-Fogarty at 919-856-9468 or at [office at wfpse dot org] if you’d like to arrange a speaking event in your community.
Julia’s Bio is included below:
Julia Vallejos is a founding member of the factory Free Trade Zone Masilí.
In 1998 her life was turned upside down when Hurricane Mitch flooded Lake Managua, and she, with many others who lived on the alongside the lake, were forced to leave their homes and their livelihood behind. After being relocated to a refugee community outside the city limits, Julia began meeting with other displaced women in her community to figure out how they could make a living. Many people they knew were finding work in Free Trade Zones—huge textile factories owned by foreign corporations and contracted by foreign clothing companies. Though they provide employment, the factories have a reputation for poor labor conditions where workers are paid very little and work long hours, and the profit always remains in the hands of foreign corporations. The women decided to form a worker-owned cooperative factory called The Women of Nueva Vida (the name of their new community) with support from a U.S.-based NGO.
After establishing the Nueva Vida sewing cooperative, they later applied for Free Trade Zone status – enjoying tax breaks and access to U.S. and European markets without changing their worker-owner model. The new status came with a new name – Masilí. The workers continue to share the profits of the factory and ensure fair labor conditions for all their workers. They also decided to use only organic fabric as a commitment to protecting the environment.
In the past 13 years Julia has worked in almost every part of the factory. Today she is the general manager. During her tour through the South East region, Julia will share her story. She will also give her perspectives on how free trade policies and U.S. corporate practices have affected her community and the choices we as consumers can make to support alternative trade models like Masilí.