On January 9, 2010 the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project led a delegation to Chiapas, Mexico to return the body of migrant farmworker José Obeth Santis Cruz who was killed in a VT farming accident. We spent the first week with Obeth's family and community and the second week seeking to understand why so many people are migrating from Chiapas to Vermont. This 3 part interview with Abraham Rivera from the Center for Economic and Political Investigation and Community Action (www.ciepac.org) sheds light on the root causes of migration. Click on 'Read More' for parts 2 and 3.
The Vermont's Silent Voices Project seeks to amplify the silenced voices of migrant farmworkers in Vermont in order to raise awareness about the experiences, needs, and hopes of some of the approximately 2,000 migrant farmworkers who have come to the aid of Vermont dairy farms in crisis. We hope to engage Vermonters in a much needed dialogue to work for more socially and economically just communities for ALL of those living and working in VT. In this first interview one of Vermont’s Silenced Voices shares the interdependencies between VT dairy farmers and migrant farmworkers.
Times are tough on all VT dairy farms. While the dairy crisis has received a lot of attention on how it impacts farmers much less attention has been given about its impacts on farmworkers. In this interview a migrant farm worker explains his 9 month struggle to get paid.
Migrant Justice proudly lead the Food Justice contingency at May 1st's Put People First Rally in Montpelier. Over 2000 gathered to march, sing, and speak out to join our struggles into one movement!
We hear first from 16 year old Gabino Hernandez from Enosburg Falls High who transcribed, translated, and did the voice over for the interview with a VT migrant farmworker that follows. Gabino also shares his experience helping out his parent's at work on a Vermont dairy farm and reflects on the difference between being a documented and undocumented worker. We are very grateful to Gabino for his hard work and sharing his story for this project.
In this interview a worker explains that a routine trip to the grocery store lands him in a detention center. Once detained workers are transported between Vermont, New York and Massachussets. Workers are often detained for 2-3 months before they are deported. This is a story repeated over and over in Vermont by migrant farmworkers and creates an environment of fear that further isolates and marginalizes migrant farmworkers. Due to this climate of fear many workers, particularly those closest to the border, can pass months and even a year without ever stepping foot off a dairy farm.
In this interview a VT migrant farmworker shares an often told story of the struggle to survive in agriculture in Mexico and explains that this forces farmers, many who are indigenous, to migrate to the United States to help their farms, families and communities. This is cause to reflect on the roots of migration. Since the 1994 passage of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Mexico lost over 2 million farming jobs and the number of Mexicans migrating to the U.S. each year has more than doubled. Subsidies, price supports, and various programs supporting small farmers were eliminated due to NAFTA. If family farmers in Mexico and family dairy farmers in Vermont are unable to make a living farming--who is really benefiting from the globalization of agriculture and so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA?
In this interview one of Vermont's silenced voices shares what many workers feel, "We don't have freedom". Although he lives close to a town he fears going out for a piece of pizza or a soda. Additionally, he reflects on the differences between living and working in Vermont and New York as a migrant worker.
As one of Vermont’s silenced migrant farmworker voices shares in this interview, “Something I would change, well the truth…simply, simply, the freedom, to allow, well, I don’t know, to be able to go out trusting that . . . they’re not going to detain us, deport us…And, like, with the security that, well, nobody is going to say anything to us, or well, unless we were doing something we shouldn’t. That’s normal that they would detain you for doing something bad, but if not well, yes in this case yes, we would like to be able to have this freedom, yes.”