Current and former Carasque residents talk about what immigration and free trade mean to them them and their community - part of the the kNOw US AND THEM Listening Project. (Ver el vídeo en Español)
“kNOw US AND THEM” is spelled the way it is to underscore that the more each of us knows about “THEM,” the less each of us will have an “us and them” mentality about people whose basic concerns and life experiences are not all that different than our own.
PICA’s seventeen-year relationship with our Salvadoran sister city of Carasque has given us a window into what life is like in much of rural Latin America. Our work on trade and sweatshop issues has helped us understand that Latin American immigrants don’t just one day appear at our borders, but that the tremendous duress of their own lives brings them here, and that U.S. policies have played a role in that.
Maine has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the years since the adoption of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Just as Maine jobs are being exported in search of cheaper labor, Latin American countries are exporting human casualties of their own economies north, in search of jobs. The collapse of rural economies in Latin America is driving poor farm families off their land, while many Maine farmers struggle to survive.
We and they, US AND THEM, are very much connected.
The kNOw US AND THEM program is built on a Listening Project – in-depth, non-judgmental interviews of recent economic immigrants, small farmers, and displaced manufacturing workers in Maine. By providing a window into people’s stories, hopes, and fears, Listening Projects provide a powerful organizing tool for social change.
kNOw US AND THEM is conducting workshops on immigration, trade, and the relations between us, for community, religious, labor, and school (high school and college) audiences.
kNOw US AND THEM's ultimate goal is
to build understanding and collective action among a broad cross section of Mainers -- members of unions, immigrant, community and faith group -- on national and local issues of immigration, trade, and worker rights.