Vermonters Grieve “Invisible Life and Death”of Migrant Farm Worker Killed in Tragic Farming Accident

For Immediate Release Contact: Brendan O’Neill
December 23, 2009 VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project
Vermont Workers’ Center

Vermonters Grieve “Invisible Life and Death”

of Migrant Farm Worker Killed in Tragic Farming Accident.

Candle Light Vigil remembers and mourns

“Invisible Life and Death” of José Obeth Santiz Cruz and

calls for Immediate Immigrant Rights in Vermont.

On December 22, 2009 on a bone chilling winter afternoon in Fairfield, Vermont on Howrigan dairy farm 20 year old José Obeth Santiz Cruz from the town of Las Margaritas, Chiapas, Mexico was killed in a tragic farming accident. The death was confirmed by his co-workers and family members last night as concern and sadness spread throughout the migrant farm worker community mourning the young migrant farm workers’ death. Obeth is survived by roughly 80 extended family and community members who currently live and work on Vermont dairy farms.

Although, José Obeth Santiz Cruz’s family members might like to gather together as a family and community here in Vermont to mourn this tragic death they expressed fears that doing so would mean risking deportation—they are not free to do so. As Vermont resident Brendan O’Neill, a family friend, migrant farm worker advocate, ESL teacher, and member of the VT Workers’ Center, who was in touch last night with relatives who survive Obeth, commented, “Sadly, here in Vermont and throughout the United States migrant farm workers cannot even gather as a community and mourn family members deaths without fearing deportation. Family members have expressed concern to ensure that Oveth’s body is respectfully and swiftly returned to his family in Chiapas, Mexico.”

Today, Wednesday December 23, 2009 Vermonters are invited to gather for a silent and solemn candle light vigil organized by the newly created VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project and hosted by the Vermont Workers’ Center that will begin at 5 p.m at 294 N. Winooski Avenue in Burlington at the Vermont Workers Center to honor the hard work, sacrifice and tragic death of migrant farm worker Oveth Santis Cruz. The candlelight vigil procession will leave from the VT Workers’ Center at 6pm and make its way through the streets of Burlington to continue the vigil in front of the UU Church on Church St. O’Neill adds, “José Obeth Santiz Cruz is one of approximately 2,000 migrant farm workers who have come to the aid of our Vermont Dairy Farms in crisis and yet despite their essential contributions to Vermont due to an unjust, broken and oppressive U.S. immigration system they are forced to live and in this case die in fear, silence and in the shadows.” He added, “In the state of Vermont and throughout the United States the invisible hands that milk so many of our cows and pick so many of our vegetables, which literally puts the food on the table, live and die invisibly without the dignity and respect that all human beings deserve.”

The vigil is dedicated to the life of José Obeth Santis Cruz and calls upon Vermonters to commit themselves to work for real immigration reform that recognizes and respects the basic needs, dignity and human rights of all immigrants.

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