Pics: Strawberry Workers in Santa Maria, Calif.


2-27-09, 9:49 am

SANTA MARIA, CA - 16FEBRUARY09 – Guillermina Arzola, a Mixtec immigrant from San Sebastian del Monte in Oaxaca, works in a crew of indigenous Mixtec and Zapotec farm workers from Oaxaca and Guerrero picking strawberries. The crew foreman is Eugenio Cardenas of the Central Coast company, and the berries will be marketed by Green Giant. It is the beginning of the strawberry season in Santa Maria. Workers stand in line to bring the berries they've picked to the checker. He inspects them and then punches a ticket that keeps track of the number of boxes each worker has picked. Three Zapotec farmworkers from Santa Maria Sola in Oaxaca walk out of the field, after having asked if there was any work.

In Santa Maria many Mixtec and Zapotec families live in an apartment complex, and children play in the yard in front. Most are new migrants with very low lncome, and haven't yet found much work. In the apartment of Samuel Ramirez, his wife Juana Lopez, and their children Adela and Maria there is little furniture besides mattresses, a table and a couple of chairs, and a TV. Leobarda Hernandez is the oldest, most respected woman in the Hernandez family next door.

--David Bacon is the author of Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants and Communities Without Borders.