Mexico: Labor Rebellion in San Quintín‬ – Farmworkers on Strike

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Tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintín‬, Baja California went on strike March 17th protesting labor law violations and demanding dignified salaries, health care, overtime pay, vacation days and overall better working conditions. Some workers have since returned to the fields but protests in solidarity with San Quintín‬ continue and workers have threatened to continue striking and blocking roads if there is no progress.

“San Quintín workers march in Tijuana, Baja California. Photos: Roberto Armocida /La Jornada BC”

“Everyone who eats a strawberry think of “suffering”, ask the workers in #SanQuintín #BajaCalifornia”

The strikes that took place just 200 miles south of San Diego had immediate impact on US markets. Workers left produce rotting in greenhouses and fields and worker roadblocks delayed shipments. Costco reported that “organic strawberries are in short supply because about 80% of the production this time of year comes from Baja California.”

“They make the land produce food, but die of hunger; They work to the point of exhaustion, but live as slaves; They stood up against poverty; and owners of San Quintín panicked.”

VIDEO: Eviction of San Quintín farmworkers March 18, 2015

VIDEO: Workers face Granaderos in San Quintín

Workers were subjected to a violent repression by federal police on March 18th where around 140 people were arrested. The Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH – The National Human Rights Commission) has initiated a complaint to investigate possible human rights violations of farm workers in San Quintín, Baja California, and Comondú, Baja California Sur.

CNDH issued a statement reporting that they had sent visitors to the town of San Quentín, where they interviewed workers and their representatives, who said they had been arrested and abused by members of the Municipal Police when protesting near slave conditions in which they work.

L.A. Times reporter Richard Marosi published an excellent expose in December 2014 entitled Product of Mexico showing the horrendous conditions Mexican laborers work under including rat-infested camps, having their wages routinely withheld and being prevented from leaving work camps because they owned money to the company store.

“Hundreds of people protest at the government representation office, Baja California, #DF, in support of #SanQuintín.”

Among the thousands of workers on strike many are indigenous women, mostly Mixtec and Triqui. Most of them have no social security and are subjected to work more than 12 hour days, with child labor, exposed to hazardous chemicals and living in unhealthy places without running water and electricity. Wages are between 100 and 120 pesos, and many women just earn the minimum wage. In contrast to the 6,278 million pesos annually generated by the sale and export of products that are harvested in the Valley of San Quentin. They survive in conditions that remind us of the nineteenth century.

The laborer rebellion, in addition to demand better wages and living conditions, includes a very strong demand, which is the bring attention to abuse, rape and sexual abuse by employers and foremen, and demands they be punished.

Many women who work long hours in the field, are also heads of households with 2-5 children who struggle as all the laborers, but have achieved less than a week of maternity leave.

The agricultural boom of the Valley of San Quentín is inseparable from economic poverty and violation of labor rights of working people. Employers take advantage of marginalization and poverty of the laborers. Ethnicity and gender combine to produce results of over-exploitation and discrimination without limits.

Sources:
LA Times
TruthDig
Proceso
La Izquierda Diario
Fresh Plaza
Areopago

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.