By Doug Porter
Police raids and street protests in Baja California have led to scores of injuries in the latest round of labor strife over pay and working conditions in San Quintin, an agricultural region producing produce sold in the United States.
This weekend’s violence followed the failure of Interior Minister Luis Miranda Nava to show up for a meeting with leaders of farm worker organizations in the area.
Max Correa Hernandez of the Central Campesina Cardenista (CCC), and Fidel Sanchez Gabriel, spokesman for the Movement of Agricultural Workers of San Quentin have called upon the state and federal government to intervene, saying more than 80 people have been injured by police in recent days.
La Jornada Baja California says union leaders will be issuing an international call on Wednesday for a boycott of fruits and vegetables exported from this region, in protest of violations of human and labor rights suffered by workers.
No details are available as yet about what products or companies will be targeted by the boycotts. The Driscoll company, which imports large quantities of berries, has been mentioned in numerous news accounts. The company claims its workers are treated better than others, although it has been pointed out that much of their product comes via sub-contracted farms in the region.
Attempts to negotiate better working conditions and higher wages following walkouts and highway blockades during March collapsed not long after the news media withdrew from the area.
From KPFK, via Facebook:
Thousands of Mexican farm workers from #SanQuintin Baja California, just a few miles from our Southern California border are regrouping right now after a harrowing day of protests and political rallies.
Late this afternoon, organizers say hundreds of Mexican federal police attacked a mostly peaceful worker rally and civil disobedience.
About 30,000 workers from the San Quintin region (about an hour and a half drive from San Diego) earn less than $10 a day and aren’t given any benefits. The workers have been fighting for a contract that includes at least $14 a day and federal health benefits.
Mexican authorities say protesters pelted police with rocks and bottles. Officers responded with tear gas and fired numerous rounds of rubber bullets. Reports estimate dozens were injured. Organizers told La Jornada, a Mexican daily, that police infiltrators began instigating the crowd and are mostly to blame for the unrest. Reports say two cars and a police station were torched.
The Mexican army was also patrolling the massive rally but sources say they did not appear to get involved. The country’s military has been dispatched to numerous parts of the country especially in drug routes used by organized crime syndicates.
According to RT (And yes, I know it’s owned by the Russians, but at least they have a reporter on the scene):
The workers allege that police have been carrying out raids on their homes in the Ensenada municipality without authorization, which resulted in assaults on whole families – including children, according to the website La Jornada. The neighborhood of Nuevo San Juan Copala is some 180km from the city of Ensenada.
The farm workers were reportedly protesting working conditions and low wages in the state. They had been preparing a strike, as their grievances had not been addressed for months, and some of the workers decided to blockade a tomato farm Sunday morning, asking their colleagues to join them on a picket line until next Wednesday, when the deputy secretary of the interior, Luis Enrique Miranda Nava, was to arrive.
This was reportedly followed by the owner of the ranch calling the police, who arrived around 5:00 a.m. local time and allegedly started raiding workers’ homes with no warrants. Some reports claimed they were beating children while they were still asleep.
The video below includes a song in solidarity with the farmworkers and a slideshow depicting conditions in the area. Via NOTICIAS paro laboral SAN QUINTIN
Here’s the report from UT-San Diego:
Protesters in the Baja California’s San Quintin region intermittently blocked the Transpeninsular Highway on Saturday and clashed with police outside a tomato ranch.
The flare-ups have come several weeks after a farmworkers strike shattered the tranquillity of this major export-oriented agricultural region that grows strawberries, tomatoes and other produce, mainly for the U.S. market. The strikers have been demanding higher pay and improved working conditions.
Saturday’s incidents came after a top federal government official, Luis Miranda Nava of the Interior Ministry, failed to show up for a meeting with leaders of the striking farmworkers, according to news reports.
Jose Luis Fraga, an official with Mexico’s Federal Highway Police, said in a telephone interview on Saturday afternoon that there had been intermittent closures of the Transpeninsular Highway near the communities of Colonet and Vicente Guerrero, and recommended that travelers avoid the area.
And here’s an excerpt from an earlier report at Global Research with some background information:
The San Quintín Valley has over the past couple of decades been transformed into one of the most productive agricultural regions of Mexico where large scale irrigation systems, modern buildings, and large scale truck transportation have been combined by employers with low wage indigenous workers to produce an abundance of fruit and vegetable for American consumers – hundreds of thousands of tons of berries, tomatoes, and vegetables each year – and to make fortunes for the transnational and Mexican companies that own and manage the farms.
Many Baja California and Mexican government officials are actually owners or investors in the twelve largest farms as well as in some of the smaller one. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, for example, is an investor in one of the companies. The near fusion between corporate executives and the Baja California government has made it difficult for workers to achieve even the minimal wages, benefits and conditions to which they are entitled under the law. Last December The Los Angeles Times published a series of articles and produced a video revealing workers’ onerous conditions in San Quintin in December…
SDPD Shooting Continues to Draw Fire
The April 30th shooting of Fridoon Zalbeg Rawshannehad, 42, by officer Neal Browder near an adult bookstore in the Midway District continues to make the news. The officer failed to turn on his body camera, but there is a video taken by private security cameras showing multiple views of the confrontation.
The SDPD has thus far refused to release the footage, saying they’re working on completing the investigation.
This weekend United Against Police Terror demonstrated near the location of the incident, using L.E.D. lights spelling out the victim’s name. NBC7 and other news outlets have interviewed individuals who have seen the private video footage. They’re saying they cannot comprehend why the officer felt the need to fire his weapon.
Following the incident, The San Diego Police Department announced a change to its body camera policy. Instead of hitting record when they contact a suspect, officers will now have to turn on their cameras before they arrive at a scene, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman announced Thursday.
The previous body camera policy allowed officers to wait until they had made an enforcement contact before recording. Now they will have to switch their cameras on when they get the radio call.
In an exclusive NBC 7 interview Friday, a man who worked at a business near the site of the deadly shooting said he watched surveillance video that shows the fatal April 30 encounter from two angles and called it “unprovoked.”
There’s something fishy going on here and it’s so obvious that even UT San Diego editorialized about it:
While we welcome Zimmerman’s change in policy, we don’t understand – based on known facts – why her department won’t release footage of the encounter recorded by private security cameras until it has completed its investigation. No one has said there might be another suspect or some other complicating factor.
In a time of heightened concern over police behavior, there will be – and should be – heightened public expectations of transparency on law-enforcement officers’ lethal actions. The fatal shooting happened nearly two weeks ago. Without extenuating circumstances, it shouldn’t be standard procedure to keep crucial evidence from the public for that long.
Time to Roll Out the “Welcome Wagon” for ALEC
You’re invited to an organizing meeting for the StopALECFest2015 event.
6:30pm Tuesday, May 12, Children’s Park (Island at Front) Down town san diego.
Park Horton Plaza for 3 free hours parking or use Civic Center trolley stop or Convention stop.
This is a park so you may want to BRING A CHAIR and sweatshirt/jacket.
UPDATE: This nefarious group is having their national gathering in San Diego this summer. It seems like a wasted opportunity if we don’t show them a “good time.”
Information on ALEC, aka American Legislative Exchange Council, via AlecExposed.org
What is ALEC?
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through the secretive meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, corporate lobbyists and state legislators vote as equals on ‘model bills’ to change our rights that often benefit the corporations’ bottom line at public expense. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers.
Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC’s operations.
Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.
ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.
On This Day: 1894 – A nationwide railway strike began at Pullman, Ill. Nearly 260,000 railroad workers ultimately joined the strike to protest wage cuts by the Pullman Palace Car Co. 1934 – A severe two-day dust storm stripped the topsoil from the great plains of the U.S. and created a “Dust Bowl.” The storm was one of many. 1972 – John Lennon appeared on the “Dick Cavett” TV show and said that the FBI had tapped his phone.
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