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July 2008
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Doll Factory in Mexico Helps Slow Illegal Immigration

Josefina Mendieta says her job making handmade dolls in authentic Mexican dresses are the main reason her 16-year-old son hasn't followed his father to the United States.In Mineral de Pozos, Mexico, the remaining women left behind in this mostly abandoned mining town have started their own community business named “Munecas Mina” (dolls from the mine) where they make dolls wearing traditional Mexican outfits in order to earn a living.  The women only make about $150 a month each but they say it is enough to pay for their children’s educations so they don’t have to follow the majority of the fathers and other men of the town who have illegally immigrated to the United States. 

Their three year old company was started with a $10,000 government loan which they have since paid off, and they are now trying to obtain a $5,000 loan so that they can develop a business plan to improve the marketing and distribution of the dolls.

“For many of them, the success of the business will help to determine whether their children finish their educations”, says Adriana Cortes Jimenez, who works for a community non-proft foundation and helped the women obtain the original loan.  “If this business doesn’t survive, their children will likely have to go to the States,” she said, “because they don’t have other alternatives.”

The ladies have come a long way since they got started.  Most of them had little or no sewing experience when they used the loan proceeds to buy sewing machines, and they claim that the original dolls were “horrid”.  Now they have a line of more than 20 different dolls in various regional festival dresses, including the Charra or “cowgirl” of Michoacan and China Poblana from Puebla, who’s dressed in the colors of the Mexican flag. The “Adelita,” wearing a straw hat and flowered dress, is named after the female soldiers who fought alongside the men in Mexico’s revolutionary war.

Read more about Munecas Mina in the McClatchy Washington Bureau report.

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