"Charity is commendable, everyone should be charitable. But Justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don't go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth, justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance.
Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table"
~Bill Moyers

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Death of a "Criminal"

Her name was Maria Isabel Jiménez Vázquez, she was 17-year-old and pregnant and died because her employer did not give her proper access to shade and water as she pruned grape vines in 100-degree heat.

Investigators said they found multiple violations including the illegal use of child labor, multiple workers using one timecard and employees forced to purchase their own tools and equipment to harvest crops.

Inspectors visited about 50 farms Tuesday.

The death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez is now under investigation by Cal OSHA following allegations she was denied water, shade and other basic human rights while pruning grape vines in near triple-digit heat.

Hundreds of farm workers have been holding a march to the state capitol with the Jimenez family for the past few days.

United Farm Worker official Arturo Rodriguez said Jimenez's death was the 10th from heat exhaustion in the past four years.

"Maria Isabel was the youngest of the farmworkers," said Rodriguez. "She was the first woman that died as a result of this...and she was the first person who died being pregnant at the time."

Steven J. Ybarra, JD from the California Progress Report in his editorial "In Memory of Maria Isabel Jiménez Vázquez...." writes:

"Here is the question of the day - why is it that the Mexican worker is suddenly the devil incarnate in the United States?"

Many Americans today are buying the right “wingnut” lie that Mexican workers are destroying the economy. They buy off on the xenophobia put out by the wingnuts who blame the war, gas shortages, and deaths in Iraq on workers who come here to pick fruit and clean toilets at your friendly neighborhood motel.

Steven is right in both, in the question and in the answer, the minds of many people have been poisoned with a daily barrage of anti-immigrant hate speech by a large number of RightWingNuts with access to microphones and tv cameras who continuously spew hate and blame toward 'undocumented immigrants (They call them 'illegals'), prominent amongst them are, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, et al - One of the most vicious and whose tirades of hate reflect his name, is Michael Savage, who warned U.S. politicians not to "take to the streets" to support illegal immigrant "vermin" and routinely calls these immigrant workers, criminals.

Listen to Savage's Comments


To what extent the RightWingNut onslaught of hate and demeaning speech against immigrants contributes to the way these humans are viewed and treated?, or in this case, mistreated, yes, they are humans beings just like you and me, in spite of what these hatemongers say and despite how employers abuse and exploit these workers.

Dr. Marcos Gutierrez in his weekdays radio program "Made in California" Regularly points out, that much as in Hitler's Germany of the 1930s, with it's dehumanizing speech against the Jews, made possible the atrocities that were to follow, so it is in these United States, that the anti-immigrant sentiment sowed in the minds of people by the media hatemongers, makes it also possible to view immigrants as less than human and thus fertilize the political ground, so draconian legislative measures can be implemented and barbaric raids conducted in a brutal manner be carried out, destroying lives, separating families, incarcerating children with their mothers, and on, and on, and on... ad infinitum.

But who was this criminal? Who was this 'lawbreaker illegal immigrant named Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez?

LODI, Calif. — They fell for one another in junior high school, in a village deep in Mexico's Sierra Madre range.

Within a few years, the young couple had crossed the border and found jobs pruning grapes in a California vineyard.

Maria and her friend, Florentino, had made plans: To work in this country for perhaps three years, save some money and then return to Oaxaca, get married and make a home and family there.

It wasn't long after that, that Florentino Bautista, 19, lost his pregnant fiancée when she fainted in his arms following hours of work in 100-degree heat. This week, Bautista is leading a poignant march to Sacramento to call for safer labor conditions on farms.

Two teenagers in love who traveled thousands of miles, surviving the deadly journey from the impoverished village to the fields in California in search of a better future, for them and for their families, in the case of Maria Isabel, to also help her widowed mother.


No, quite the contrary, Juan Hernandez makes a case that today's immigrants exhibit the traits and character which Americans admire in his book "New American Pioneers: Why Are We Afraid of Mexican Immigrants?", yes indeed, why?

Geraldo Rivera, in his book "His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S." and in his tv appearances on the subject, makes a connection between the demonizing of immigrants and the RightWingNuts in the media's antagonistic and hateful demeaning pronunciations against these workers.

No, not criminals, just workers with families to take care of.

Audio slideshow from Wednesday's funeral

United Farm Workers march to the Capitol - photo slide show

Video: Maria's fiance Florentino Bautista talks about what happened on May 14.
Video: El prometido de Maria, Florentino Bautista, habla sobre lo que paso el 14 de mayo


In Memory of Maria Isabel Jiménez Vázquez and Her Unborn Child and All Farm Workers Who Have Died to Make our American Life Easier

The Short Life and Preventable Death of Maria Isabel Vasquez

Employer of farmworker who died had been fined for violations in 2006

Farm Worker Death Sparks March To Capitol

Source: NBC 11 Bay Area, CA (KNTV)

UFW March Honors Pregnant Farmworker Who Died In Vineyard

Source: NBC 4 Los Angeles (KNBC)

Farmers must share in keeping workers safe

Source: Modesto Bee

March begins to honor fallen farmworker

Source: San Jose Mercury News

Editorial: A tragedy in the farm fields is all too familiar

Source: Sacramento Bee

After worker death, state may revoke contractor's license

Source: San Jose Mercury News

March For Farm Worker Approaches Capitol

Source: NBC 3 Sacramento (KCRA)

LODI / Farmworker's on-job death spurs march to improve working conditions

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Labor contractor in farmworker death case may lose license

Source: Sacramento Bee

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