From Baja California to Washington State, indigenous farm workers are standing up for their rights.
By David Bacon, The Nation
August 28, 2015
A burned-out concrete blockhouse—the former police station—squats on one side of the only divided street in Vicente Guerrero, half a mile from Baja California’s transpeninsular highway. Just across the street lies the barrio of Nuevo (New) San Juan Copala, one of the first settlements of migrant farm workers here in the San Quintín Valley, named after their hometown in Oaxaca.
Behind the charred stationhouse another road leads into the desert, to a newer barrio, Lomas de San Ramón. Here, on May 9, the cops descended in force, allegedly because a group of strikers were blocking a gate at a local farm. A brutal branch of the Mexican police did more than lift the blockade, though. Shooting rubber bullets at people fleeing down the dirt streets, they stormed into homes and beat residents.
By then a farm-labor strike here was already two months old. Some leaders say provocateurs threw rocks and egged on a confrontation, but the beatings undeniably set off smoldering rage in the Lomas and Copala barrios. In addition, a government official who’d agreed to negotiate had failed to show up to talk with strike leaders.
By the end of the day, the police headquarters was a burned-out shell.[...]
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