|Courtesy El Mexicano|
If you thought there is no such thing as hatred and discrimination towards the Jornaleros and people of a more darker color from a good measure of Mexican citizens, think again. I mentioned in an earlier post the hateful anti-jornalero web site which was created a few days back; now take a look at some of these comments after Governor Kiko's remark that if the Jornaleros are paid more, more of them will come to Baja California which can be inferred to mean that they are unwelcome here.
Fortunately for all of us both the National and Local Mexican press have been hammering away daily for all to see the horrid working and living conditions of the Jornaleros of Ensenada - in fact if you go to You Tube and do a search for "Ensenada Jornaleros" there is video after video describing their plight - so obviously there is a very strong resistance to the hatred and discrimination which exists here in Mexico by Mexican citizens.
We watched as negotiations for a decent pay increase, improved living conditions and medical treatment for the Jornaleros broke down continuously last week, with the final offer of a mere 15% pay increase laid on the table, which was firmly rejected by the Jornaleros who then went on - at least a thousand of them to march down the Transpeninsular Highway with no violent incidents. At the border last week our friend Norman the Zeta Magazine guy said as he handed me a copy of El Mexicano in almost jubilant disbelief: "...they're going to get 270 pesos a day!" No Norman I replied, no they are not.
In the vegetable departments of Sprouts and Vons on Thursday no one seemed to care - there was no hesitation in buying produce, people were loading their carts up. There was no discussions of the Jornaleros of Ensenada, there were no signs or stickers above produce imported from Ensenada Mexico to boycott it. And, had there been signs or stickers placed above the tomatoes and all the produce imported from Ensenada Mexico to boycott these items until the demands of the Jornaleros were met I am not so sure that American consumers would comply.
Late yesterday the reports started coming in that the Jornaleros were organizing and en route to Tijuana and Mexicali to continue their battle to have their demands heard again and met. This morning El Mexicano reported that 700 Jornaleros in over 20 trucks mobilized in San Quintin and Camalu, made a stopover to protest at the Government offices in Ensenada, held another rally and camped out in Parque Revolucion. Some stayed behind because they had to work in order to pay the "rents" on their uninhabitable squalid living quarters and watch the kids. This morning they are on their way to Tijuana and Mexicali where they hope to hold meetings in the Capital with Governor Kiko Vega mediated by a representative of the Human Rights Organization of the United Nations. El Mexicano notes that so many of these people neither have any money nor even a change of clothes.
Also this morning an interesting conversation between Mike and one of our Mexican neighbors who both feel it is morally unjustifiable for gringos to party and vacation (even to live) down here while there is still so much and in fact increases in human rights abuse, censorship, and the gamut of atrocities associated with corruption and the drug war. Something to think about during Semana Santa.
- The Jornaleros kick off their demonstrations at the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) then march on the San Ysidro border crossing and continue to the border fence in the Playas. On this link you can see the Jornaleros marching at the San Ysidro border crossing chanting "...Fuera Kiko Vega, fuera Pena Nieto" (out or leave Kiko, ditto Pena). From this point they went to the border fence at the Playas. On this link, you can see the Jornaleros on one side of the fence, their U.S. supporters on the other side. Here too they are demanding the resignation of Governor Kiko Vega for what they describe as his non-response to their needs. But obviously there is a great deal of organization within the Ensenada Jornaleros which many people noted at the beginning of these demonstrations on St. Pat's Day (03/17).
UPDATE: AROUND 5:30PM:
- There are two reports which appeared almost simultaneously which state that most of the Jornaleros - at least thousands of them - have returned to the fields of San Quintin, that all is "normal". The first report is basically the point of view from the Agricola de Baja California which presents the argument that it is unaffordable to give the Jornaleros the pay raise they want (300 pesos a day as opposed to 100 pesos a day) and that there are available agencies in place to attend to the needs of the Jornaleros. A similar report states that thousands of jornaleros have returned to work with the work levels registering between 85 - 90%. According to this article, 64 agreements were met during the almost two week long negotiations and that these thousands of workers who have returned to the fields have accepted the 15% pay raise.
- In the spirit of MexicoLeaks it has been noted that a grievance module originated by STPS is in full operation even over the weekends and holidays to receive complaints or reports from the Jornaleros of irregularities in the slave camps..
- At any rate, it is unclear at this point if the Jornaleros will actually be meeting with Governor Kiko Vega the man who they have denounced with the representative of the Human Rights Organization of the UN present in Mexicali to hear their demands. We'll just have to wait and see.
UPDATE/EDIT 03/30: Summary of articles:
|Courtesy El Mexicano: Yesterday the Jornaleros and supporters at CECUT TIJ|
- Mostly throughout the day the reports have centered around the statements made by the spokesperson of the Jornaleros, Fidel Sanchez Garcia of the Alianza de Organizaciones por la Justica Social. We are beginning to see the other side of the story which is quite a bit different than the statements issued by the state government.
Sanchez Gabriel noted that there are 80,000 (not 50K) workers from San Quintin who joined the initial strike. He estimates that about 10% of them have returned to the fields - but only under duress due to threats made to them that they would not be re-hired if they did not return.
He called Governor Kiko Vega a "liar" and accused both him the Consejo Agricola de BC of deceiving the public as far as arriving at a solution to this problem and of spreading misinformation. So, at this moment it is unclear if in fact the Jornaleros who were pressured into returning to the fields are actually receiving that 15% pay raise however it is clear that there is a huge division between the Jornaleros and the State government with emotions running high and the Jornaleros feeling indignant. The Jornaleros now want to meet with the Federal Government because they feel that the Governor and his Cabinet have shown no desire to resolve the issue (s). That said, Gabriel Sanchez acknowledged they still have to leave the possibility open of resuming talks at the state level.
He affirmed that it is Rancho Los Pinos owned by the Rodriquez brothers (the one brother held the office of Secretary of Agricultural Development under Governor Osuna Millan.) ( remember the Marosi interview a couple blogs back that basically described the same situation although not person specific) He went on to say that the labor abuses at Rancho Los Pinos are tolerated by the state government.
This is at least the third time that a spokesperson for the Jornaleros has rebuked the charges from Governor Kiko Vega that the Jornaleros are "Guerrilleros" influenced by certain business people or political parties. In his view the main solution to the problem is to grant the Jornaleros a decent wage of 200 pesos per day, stating that they never did approve the paltry 15% offered. They also want 20 pesos for each "canastilla" of strawberries and 17 pesos for each "canastilla" of blackberries they pick. Unsure on the translation here - whether this means a flat or a basket full.
|Courtesy El Mexicano: Jornaleros arrive in Mexicali|
Here are some links you can check up on the developments, I have some running around to do the next few days:
Thousands (15K) of indigenous Catholic citizens from Chiapas made a four day pilgrimage to Tuxtla Gutierrez ( 03/27 - 03/31) marching against the violence, narcotrafico, impunity and corruption:
Aristegui Noticas (more videos, scroll down)