The Cross Border Network was formed in 1998 by labor educator Judy Ancel and union organizer and Central America support activist Katie Phelan in response to the nationalistic and often racist reactions of working people in the wake of NAFTA-related job losses. Our initial goal was to build solidarity among working people in Kansas City and in the maquiladoras* along the Mexican border through education and people-to-people exchanges. Over the years we have consistently sought to counter these dominant racist narratives by exposing corporate driven globalization and reinforcing the importance of international labor solidarity.
Since CBN’s early years we have expanded to include the issues of migration to expose its systemic connection to globalization. Our work supports comprehensive immigration reform by educating union leaders on why it’s key for labor’s future and also by hosting workshops for immigrants in Spanish about the politics of immigration reform and their role in making it happen.
Since the 2009 coup in Honduras, our international solidarity work has focused primarily on that nation as a laboratory for advanced neoliberal “reforms.” CBN has hosted three delegations focused on LGBTQIA* repression, voter accompaniment and observation during 2013 national elections, and in May 2015 on privatization of government services. Each of these tours, which bring local and national activists to Honduras, is followed up by community report-backs, written reports, and lobbying Congress to expose the results of the US military/police aid to Honduras.
The 2013 Honduran Elections were a key event in transforming CBN in embracing issues of diversity. We lead the first ever LGBTQIA* focused delegation to Honduras. We were driven to this based on relationships forged with the Movimento de Diversidad (the LGBTQIA* sector of the Honduran Resistance to the coup) and found that while this community was one of the most at risk for political repression, assassination/torture, and overall oppression, there was no international organization that was specifically working on the these larger systemic issues with this community. Our goal was to build lasting relationships between activists of other countries in order to amplify the stifled voices of the Honduran LGBTQIA* community, share resources, and change the US LGBTQIA* narrative to be more internationally focused and to hold our own government accountable. We successfully created connections between the Honduran community and some of the largest LGBTQIA* organizations in the US, such as the Victory Institute and the National LGBTQ Task Force, along with activists from across the US, Canada, and Spain.
This year, we worked in coalition with labor, environmental and other human rights groups in Missouri to fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
*Maquiladoras are manufacturing plants in export processing zones in Mexico and Central America and are known to have exploitative working conditions and frequent labor law violations.
Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity PO Box 45753 Kansas City, MO 64171