Thursday, January 20, 2011

People With No Names - The Undocumented #53

This image is oil on board, 6"x 18". The title is "The Price of Strawberries". Quoting The Economist (Dec. 18, 2010), "There is no clearing house for jobs in the fields, so the migrants follow tips and rumours. Often, they end up in the right places at the wrong times. Felix Vega and his wife were dropped off in Oxnard (California), famous for its strawberries. But they arrived out of season, so they slept on the streets, then in a doghouse, then in somebody's car. For two months they did not bathe and barely ate. Finally, they found jobs picking strawberries and made their first money in America. And thus they joined the vast undocumented workforce that under-girds America's food supply...Rob Williams, the director of the Migrant Farm-worker Justice Project (which represents farm-workers in court) estimates that 90% of farm-workers are sin papeles (without papers), just as the Vegas are. Strawberries, the crop the Vegas couple started out with, are nicknamed 'la fruta del diablo' (the devil's fruit) because pickers have to bend over all day. "Hot weather is bad," says Felix Vega, but "cold is worse" because it makes the back pain unbearable. Even worse is sleet or rain, which turns the field into a lake of mud. The worst is picking when you have the flu."

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