“Product of Mexico” is a label you see on fruit and vegetable stickers in supermarkets across the U.S. It’s also the name of an investigative series appearing this week in the Los Angeles Times.
Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep spoke to reporter Richard Marosi about his 18-month investigation in Mexico. In the series follows Ricardo Martinez, a farm worker who tried, unsuccessfully, to leave a labor camp, according to NPR.com
“The farm workers are the invisible people of Mexico, the poorest, the most discriminated. That’s what makes them so vulnerable to abuse in farm labor camps,” stated Richard Marosi.
The camps are in remote regions of west and northwest Mexico, and attached to the mega farms that produce millions of pounds of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables, much of them bound for the U.S, according to blogs.kqed.org.
“A lot of these places, they illegally withhold the wages of the workers; they’re there on three-month contracts, they’re not paid until the end,” Richard Marosi says, “That means they don’t even have enough money to catch a bus and escape the farm.”
The camps are in remote regions of west and northwest Mexico, and are attached to the mega farms that produce millions of pounds of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables, much of them bound for the U.S, according to NPR.com.
“Some of these camps are so remote that people, even if they want to go check the conditions, don’t know where they are. So it’s up to the agribusiness owners to tell them, and sometimes they don’t,” explains Marosi.
The farms Marosi saw have very advanced irrigation canals to grow high-quality tomatoes and cucumbers. But the labor force has no water to shower with when they go home.
“The only way these conditions may change is if the U.S. puts pressure on the retailers who buy from the Mexican mega farms,” says Marosi.