Mexico: Zapatistas support striking farmworkers

Striking farmworkers in the San Quintín Valley of Mexico's Baja California blocked the main highway through the peninsula and clashed with police May 9. At least 70 protesters were injured as state police fired rubber bullets. The rioting came a day after the cancellation of a meeting between Mexican federal government officials and farmworker leaders. The farmworkers received a statement of support from the Zapatista rebels in southern Chiapas state. At the closing session of an international activist meeting in the Chiapas town of San Cristóbal de Las Casa, "Critical Thinking Against the Capitalist Hydra," the rebels' Subcommander Moises said on the day of the Baja clashes: "We have to see what we can do, compañeros and compañeras. What is happening in San Quintín enfuriates us."

The farmworkers—mostly Triqui, Mixtec and Zapotec migrants from Oaxaca and Guerrero—harvest tomatoes, strawberries, grapes and other produce for the US export market. They are contract laborers paid by the quantity picked, but recently affiliated with the Mexican Labor Confederation (CTM) and are demanding a minimum wage of $13 per day, and the government health benefits afforded formal employees. Solidarity groups including Global Action for San Quintín and the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations (FIOB) are calling for a boycott of produce from San Quentin. Driscoll's, the world's largest berry distributor, is among those targeted. It has for the past 20 years purchased from BerryMex, one of San Quintín's biggest employers. (Excélsior, TeleSur, May 11; TeleSur, May 10; SDUT, LAT, May 9; TeleSur, May 5; MexiData, April 27; LAT, April 11)