Underage and pregnant Mexican teen dies on California vinyard

“If you take her to a clinic,” the foreman said, “don’t say she was working [for the contractor]. Say she became sick because she was jogging to get exercise. Since she’s underage, it will create big problems for us.”


I got wind of this story from TrueBlueMajority at DailyKos from (5/29/08):
Pregnant farmworker dies due to safety violations
Funeral services were held yesterday in California for Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Vasquez Jimenez was a 17 year old woman working for a contracting company called Merced Farm Labor, and she died of overheating because rules about access to water, water breaks, and shade were ignored. Newspaper reports indicate her body temperature exceeded 108 degrees. She may not have known she was two months pregnant; her pregnancy was discovered as part of the investigation into her death.

Republicans and conservatives who claim to be "pro-life" while acting as though undocumented farmworkers are disposable people pushes all my righteous anger buttons. I predict we won't see any outrage from the "pro-life" community about the unnecessary death of this young woman and her unborn child.

From the Sacramento Bee:

When Vasquez Jimenez collapsed, she had been on the job three days, pruning vines for $8 an hour in a vineyard owned by West Coast Grape Farming.

During eight hours of work beginning at 6 a.m. in heat that topped 95 degrees, Bautista said that workers were given only one water break, at 10:30 a.m. And the water was a 10-minute walk away – too far, he said, to keep up with the crew and avoid being scolded.

Vasquez Jimenez collapsed at 3:30 p.m., Bautista said, and for at least five minutes, the foreman did nothing but stare at the couple while Bautista cradled her.

Bautista said the foreman told him to place the teenager in the back seat of a van, which was hot inside, and put a wet cloth on her.

Later, Bautista said, the foreman told a driver to take the pair to a store to buy rubbing alcohol and apply it to see if it would revive Vasquez Jimenez. When that failed, the driver took the couple to a clinic in Lodi, Bautista said, where her body temperature had reached more than 108 degrees.

"The foreman told me to say that she wasn't working for a contractor, that she got sick while exercising," Bautista said in Spanish. "He said she was underage, and it would cause a lot of problems."

Bautista and family members said that clinic staff rushed the girl to a hospital, where she was revived several times before finally succumbing two days later without ever regaining consciousness. Doctors later discovered she was two months pregnant.

the United Farm Workers website in memorializing her quotes from a speech by Cesar Chavez from 34 years ago when he reflected on whether these deaths are deliberate:

"They are deliberate," Cesar said, "in the sense that they are the direct result of a farm labor system that treats workers like agricultural implements and not as human beings. These accidents happen because employers and labor contractors treat us as if we were not important human beings."

But farm workers "are important human beings," Cesar continued...

They are important because they are from us. We cherish them. We love them. We will miss them.

They are important because of the love they gave to their husbands, their children, their wives, their parents—all those who were close to them and who needed them.

They are important because of the work they do. They are not implements to be used and discarded. They are human beings who sweat and sacrifice to bring food to the tables of millions...of people throughout the world.

They are important because God made them, gave them life, and cares for them in life and death.

Which brings me to what UnionGal brought up in her version of the story:
How many more will it take for OSHA to do the right thing, for the states to enforce the law, for everyone to understand that the grapes on the table or in your juice or wine may be at the price of a human life or two? Isn't that price too high to pay? It is, it's too high, way too high.
I figure if you have been reading my stories in succession, you may notice a recent theme, there are less and less jobs for American citizens, and the trade off is slavery. Corporate American and the politicians are allowing everything that American workers, our original immigrants fought so valiantly for. It seems the only ones fighting for justice are unions and social activist. Which brings me to the next article about Glen Beck from CNN, who wrote a fantastic piece entitled "Commentary: Slavery alive and well in U.S." (5/28/08) which brings up a lot of items discussed on this blog, including "Illegal immigrants aren't employees, they're corporate slaves" and that "fines should be much higher on employers that hire illegal workers"

Another tidbit of farmworker abuse that should be viewed is UnionGals "Sesame Street: Injustice Brought to Us By The Letter "U"" (5/20/08), heres a very small snip
Farm labor organizers say they have discovered more than 100 migrant fruit pickers living in a Central Valley cherry orchard where they have been sleeping outdoors and bathing in drainage ditches.
The American worker and all jobs here are being attacked, the writing is on the wall people, it is the fight that must be taken seriously by everyone. It's not just industrial jobs, its the jobs that are still here, the meat cutting, construction, programming, nursing, everything.

Daily Kos

1 comment:

Bourn said...

thanks for sharing this information

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