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Ed Krueger


Edgar Krueger is more than an inspiration- he’s a phenomenon. He is someone who has dedicated almost his entire adult life to helping others. His cause is not popular. It doesn’t generate wide stream media coverage. In fact, it’s something that most of us in the United States would rather just not know about and not think about. Still Ed soldiers on, at 83 he gets around pretty good. And he still doesn’t let anything stop him when it comes to helping others.


Ed has spent most of the last 40 years of his life helping everyday workers in the Rio Grande Valley of Mexico.  Nowadays, the workers he helps are maquiladora workers- those that work in foreign-run factories all along the Mexican border. In the past, Ed worked with farm workers. He worked with Cesar Chavez as a Migrant Minister. During those times he helped many workers realize their rights and a better wage and working conditions. He was arrested several times, had a few close encounters with the Texas Rangers- including an incident where a Ranger almost pushed him into a moving freight train during a protest. But just as you can’t stop a train very easily- you also can’t stop Ed.


Ed lives in Edinburg, Texas- just across the border from Reynosa and Rio Bravo Mexico. He has lived in his beloved Rio Grande Valley most of his adult life. When he talks about the “valley”, the crops grown there, the people living there, the geography, you can hear in his voice his love for the place. It’s as much a part of him as his belief in justice.


Every week Ed travels across the border in his old Ford Escort to Reynosa and Rio Bravo Mexico.  His car is ancient, with chipped paint and a cardboard bumper (painted red). He says he uses it because it’s a car no one would want to steal, and about that he is correct. In Reynosa and Rio Bravo, Ed meets with his group of “Promotoras”. Promotoras are current and former factory workers that Ed has organized and taught about their rights under the current Mexican Federal Labor Law. He then provides them with tools to get the word out to other workers. Ed believes that an informed worker is a safe and better paid worker. He believes in “self-help” whenever possible.


Ed has probably heard of every abuse you can imagine that has happened to workers in a maquiladora, from unpaid severance wages and unfair terminations, to chemical burns and lost limbs and even death from workplace accidents.  Last year, Ed heard about the case of Rosa Moreno, a mother of eight who lost both of her hands in an accident in an HD Electronics plant in Reynosa. He sent two of his group, Paulina Hernandez and her husband Fernando, out into the colonias (neighborhoods) to find Rosa so they could all talk to her and try to help. They did find Rosa and Ed has tried valiantly, with the help of several other organizations, to raise the money to buy Rosa a set of prosthetic hands so that she can work and support her 6 children still living at home.


When I visit Reynosa or Rio Bravo with Ed, it seems as if everyone knows him. People approach him on the street-“Hola Don Eduardo- do you remember me? You helped me”.  I can’t imagine how many people Ed must have helped in his 40 years of service to the factory workers in the valley. Many of these workers are recruited to the area from rural Mexico by the giant multi-national companies that operate the maquiladoras in the free trade zone at the border. They come seeking a better life and steady work. What they often find is very low pay, long hours and frequently unsafe working conditions. They would stand up for themselves but they don’t know the law. Most are not computer literate. Some cannot read or write. They have no tools to research their rights and ask for them from the companies. With his Promotora group, Ed helps the voiceless find their voice.


Today Ed is most definitely old. He’s 83. His back is bent from time and age and he uses a cane to get around. He likely is tired- but you wouldn’t know that from seeing him. He jumps into his escort, puts his cane in the backseat, and he is off across the border to meet with his Promotora’s. One can see from observing them all together that they love their “Don Eduardo”. He came from across the great divide to help them when no one else cared. No one else wanted to know what happened in the factories that make our goods. But Ed cared, and Ed came- and he’s still coming every week just like clockwork.  Just like that proverbial moving freight train- it’s hard to stop Ed.

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