Baja California Farmworkers Strike at Harvest Peak
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
MEXICO - 200 miles south of San Diego in San Quintin Valley, over a thousand farmworkers walked out on greenhouses and fields full of produce that could spoil. The strike, which took place on March 17, is in protest of low wages, causing produce shortage reports from industry growers, retailers, shippers, and importers.
The workers timed the strike at the peak of harvest, and the direct impact of it is being seen all over. Retail markets, produce stalls, and wholesale markets in Los Angeles and Tijuana were all affected by produce shortages, according to multiple sources.
Some rogue groups of strikers have also been causing delays for trucks attempting to transport crops. According to a Fox News report, the Mexican government reported about 200 arrests on suspicion of vandalism, as well as blocking roads used to export products.
“The authorities reiterated the call for protesters to focus on dialogue and avoid actions that affect the general population,” the office of Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid said in a statement, according to International Business Times. “There will be no tolerance for those who exploit the demonstrations to act outside the law.”
The strike was something that was reportedly coordinated several days before, but was not expected to go to such extremes.
“It was something everybody knew about, but nobody thought it would get to this point,” Cenovio Gamboa, a long-time San Quintin resident, said in a U-T San Diego report. “What they are seeking is good, but it has grown out of control.”
According to fliers and a list of demands provided by protesters, what they are seeking includes higher pay, health benefits, and overtime payment. The strike has successfully gotten the attention of the local government, as the governor did reportedly show at the negotiations that took place on Thursday, March 19. If negotiations are not successful, however, reports say laborers could consider a 250 mile march to the governor’s office in Mexicali.