Saturday, April 05, 2014

CIW list header

If you haven't had a chance yet, you won't want to miss Part One to the new series of posts on the "Extreme Makeover" of the Florida tomato industry.  To offer another slice of this extensive analysis on the two realities of tomato production in Florida and in Mexico, here is a second short excerpt:
[...] So that’s what’s been happening in Florida since 2010.  But what about Mexico?  What has taken place in the Mexican tomato industry over that same period?  What one can see — though through a glass, darkly, for sure, because transparency in Mexico is non-existent, news is scant and workers’ voices are silent — is anything but a transformation, unless perhaps, in the opposite direction.

Mexico since 2010…

Not nearly as much is known today about conditions for workers in Mexico’s tomato fields as is now known here in Florida. There is no CIW in Mexico, no Fair Food Standards Council, no effective national consumer movement, nothing like the elements that combined in Florida to confront the old farm labor system and replace it with today’s renaissance.  There is no Fair Food Program in Mexico because it would simply be too dangerous.  Violence and corruption are commonplace there, and in industries where significant money can be made, organized crime is never far away.
Despite the near total lack of transparency, however, some news does manage to escape, and from that news we pull here a few headlines:
Mexican authorities have rescued at least 275 people who were being held in slave-like conditions at a camp where tomatoes are sorted and packed for export, officials said.
Thirty-nine teenagers were among those being held against their will at the Bioparques de Occidente camp in Toliman, in the western state of Jalisco, regional prosecutor Salvador Gonzalez said late Tuesday.
Five foremen were arrested for “grave violations and crimes, including the illegal privation of liberty and human trafficking,” Gonzalez told AFP…
… But while a short list of landowners make millions, the planting, weeding, pruning and picking of the vegetables fall to armies of workers from Mexico’s poorest states — Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas — who have little opportunity for schooling or other forms of legal employment.
So they are here in these fields, recruited by enganchadores — or “hooks” — who round them up in their home villages, and working in conditions that vary from producer to producer but that many critics say amount to indentured servitude.
Felipa Reyes, 40, from the violent state of Veracruz, has been toiling in the fields of Sinaloa for seven years. “You have to do the work they want, or you don’t earn anything,” she said. Complain? “And I’d end up with nothing.”…

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