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** Flash**... Hunger strikers get news upon return to Immokalee:
Professor Noam Chomsky endorses boycott 3/10/03!
NEW! Check out this great journal -- "A Hunger Striker's Diary" -- by faster Stephen Bartlett (on left, speaking at Feb. 28th rally), a family farmer from Kentucky representing Agricultural Missions. Stephen fasted on site in Irvine for 8 days, then returned to Louisville (home of YUM! Brands) and continued fasting, while helping to coordinate actions by local boycott supporters there in Louisville.

Excerpt -- Day 4:

"This is no easy protest. Already we have three people hospitalized, one elderly farmworker named Roberto with pneumonia, another supporter with appendicitis. People are weak, with heart palpitations and elevated blood pressures. Yet, somehow spirits remain high and rising.

The rain poured down torrentially and we took advantage of the cover to erect a veritable tent city along the sidewalk, which had to be dismantled as soon as the sun appeared, to keep the police from making good on their promise to cancel Friday's demonstration permit...." click here to read more

BREAKING NEWS... Religious leaders intervene, hunger strike ends, Day 10

Click here for Naples Daily News story: "Farmworker protest passed on to religious groups"

Heeding religious leaders' calls -- including a letter from Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles -- to end their fast, and vows to join the workers in their struggle, farmwokers from Immokalee and their allies ended their hunger strike on Wednesday, March 5, the 10th day of their fast. The hunger strikers ended their fast symbolically by breaking bread (left) with religious leaders at an Ash Wednesday service in their honor at 10:00 am at the hunger strike site outside Taco Bell headquarters.

In his letter to the fasters, Cardinal Mahony writes: "I am writing to express my solidarity with you as you continue your campaign to secure fair and just working conditions for yourselves and your fellow workers. Your current hunger stirke has been a clear sign of your commitment and resolve to seek a peaceful settlement to this current stalemate. You are to be commended for your commitment and dedication in leading this hunger strike. It has been a source of strength for other workers around the country who struggle to provide a decent existence for their families. As the Lenten season approaches, and out of concern for your health, I urge you to conclude this fast. In turn, I encourage Catholics to stand with you by fasting during Lent as a sign of solidarity with you and in prayer that you soon see a successful conclusion to this campaign. As a sign of good will, I encourage the leadership of Taco Bell to meet with you in the coming days to seek a fair and peaceful solution to this dispute." The Cardinal's letter was joined by similar letters from the National Council of Churches (representing 50 million people across the country), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, and National Farm Worker Ministries.

Gerardo Reyes Chavez, a striker and CIW member, commented on the end of the strike, “We are not at all surprised that Taco Bell refused to meet with us. In fact, we have grown accustomed to their disdain for us, despite the fact that our hard work and sacrifice make their profits possible. The same way they are able to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in their supply chain, they have been able to step over us without a second thought on their way to work during the ten days of our fast.”

Chavez continued, “So today, though our fast has ended, we are happy because -- to paraphrase Dr. King -- we have seen the coming of a better day for farmworkers. Throughout history, non-violent protest has served to reveal the true character of the oppressor, and our hunger strike has been no exception. Over the past ten days, Taco Bell has rejected pastors bearing a message of dialogue, physicians bearing a message of concern for our health, the mayor of Irvine, offering his support for a solution to this dispute, and tens of thousands of people acrosss the country who in one form or another have been moved by the hunger strike to demand justice of Taco Bell. With each rejection, these good people felt the sting of Taco Bell’s disdain, the sting we have felt for nearly two years now. And with each rejection, we have gained new allies, allies that will help us win our fight sooner and finally enjoy a fair wage for our labor. So though our fast has ended, today our boycott is stronger than ever.”

Click here for photos and report from Day 10, Ash Wednesday service marking final day of hunger strike

Click here to see the VIDEO (Quicktime, 7.7 mb) of the final day

On Wednesday, March 5, hunger strikers break bread with religious leaders from across the country to end their fast and begin the next phase in the boycott campaign...

While on Friday, 2/28, over a thousand people thronged to the hunger strike site at Taco Bell headquarters to show their solidarity with the Immokalee fasters. The strike anthem "Hunger Days" rocked the crowd, as did sets by LA favorite Slowrider and the day laborers' band "Los Jornaleros," speeches by Eric Schlosser of "Fast Food Nation," Anuradha Mittal of Food First, and speakers from the UFW to Family Farm Defenders!

Click on the link below to see the daily reports, with great photos and video, from the 10-day hunger strike.

One of the most powerful moments of the Friday convergence at TB headquarters in support of the strikers, LA-based Slowrider turns and sings to the towering skyscraper, "You can't hide from this!". Click on the link below to go to the video page and click on the link to this great video!

See the video of the incredible silent street theater -- accompanied by a moving spiritual -- that set the tone for the Friday convergence!

JG & Havikenhayes play the Los Angeles House of Blues with Dead Prez!

Tucson, AZ

Philadelphia, PA

Dominion, WV

Solidarity actions busted out all over the country as the hunger strikers rallied in Irvine!

Click on the link below to check out some of the stories and photos.

For more of the latest on the hunger strike, click on the links below:

Click on the link for a great new story in the Madison Wisconsin "Capital Times" on the boycott 
and the hunger strike! "Taco Bell tomato pickers protest 'sweatshop'" (2/11/03)


Dolores Huerta (L), co-founder of the United Farm Workers and lifelong activist for farmworker and civil rights, Julia Butterfly Hill, the courageous environmental activist, Anti-Slavery International/London, the world's oldest human rights organization, the National Lawyers Guild, who will be also providing legal observation at the February 28th convergence at Taco Bell headquarters, and South Florida Jobs with Justice, a longtime ally in labor battles here in Florida, all have added their names to the growing list of people and people's organizations calling on Taco Bell to clean up labor conditions in its supply chain. Click here to see full list of endorsements
They join Edward James Olmos (R), the Emmy Award-winning actor/activist star of films including "Blade Runner," "American Me," "Selena," and "Stand and Deliver," as the latest to demand not just fast, but fair, food! It is a special honor to have Mr. Olmos on our side in this battle, as he has proven time and again -- most recently with his courageous activism to stop the bombing of Vieques in Puerto Rico -- that he is not afraid to take on controversial causes.

PLUS, CHECK THIS OUT... A NEW SINGLE! JG & HavikenHayes of Over the Counter Intelligence (out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL) have produced a single about the boycott and the hunger strike that will rock Taco Bell's headquarters come February 28th.

Their sound is a politically-charged, underground hip-hop that holds nothing back in the fight against economic injustice and corporate control of our lives.

Click here to check out a preview of their new track, "Hunger Days" (one minute)

Check out the article on the hunger strike in the Agence France Press Global Ethics Monitor 1/08!

And this
article on a new shareholder action in support of the boycott 1/13!

More Endorsement News:
Barbara Ehrenreich
, author of "Nickel and Dimed," and David Korten, author of "When Corporations Rule the World," have joined the growing list of boycott endorsers. Here is what David Korten had to say:

"I strongly endorse the boycott of Taco Bell and other fast food chains that profit from the misery of underpaid workers and pose a threat to family farms and restaurants. To have a society that works we must all become more conscious of the implications of our food and other buying choices. Make it a regular habit to patronize businesses owned by local people that function as part of a responsible community and avoid patronizing global corporations like Taco Bell that care only for their profits. Taco and hamburger stands should be owned and run by local families, not global corporate predators."

"We'd rather go hungry than eat sweatshop tacos!"

That is the cry that will go up outside Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA, on February 24, 2003, as farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the CIW’s student, religious, and labor allies begin their historic hunger strike. The action -- a hunger strike outside one of the world’s largest fast-food corporations -- is a powerful contradiction that will dramatically highlight the injustice of fast-food profits derived, in significant part, from farmworker poverty. The strike comes after a year of silence from Taco Bell executives.

[Last year’s historic cross-country tour brought unprecedented national pressure on Taco Bell, as 70 workers and 30 students led a caravan of protests from Atlanta to LA, on their way to a march of nearly 2,000 angry consumers on Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine. The tour led to the first-ever talks between farmworkers and fast-food executives, but not to the concrete changes in wages and working conditions that the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is demanding of Taco Bell.]

While the hunger strikers stand vigil at Taco Bell headquarters, a caravan of workers and allies will head south from Sacramento, California, stopping at college campuses and communities along the way and spreading word of the hunger strike through teach-ins and protests at local Taco Bell restaurants.

And throughout the week, solidarity fasts and protests will take place in communities throughout the country.

The caravan will reach Irvine on Friday, February 28th, joining forces with the hunger strikers and with thousands of fair-food activists from California and across the country for a national day of convergence at Taco Bell headquarters - a huge day of protest and music that will rock Taco Bell.

That’s where YOU come in. Your participation in this year's action is CRUCIAL. Here’s what you can do:

* Send representatives from your school, church, community organization or union to fast in solidarity with Immokalee tomato pickers for the week beginning Feb. 24, 2003

* Mobilize your community to join the Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 national convergence outside of the Taco Bell headquarters

* Organize solidarity fasts, protests, and rallies in your local communities the week of Feb. 24th

Please e-mail workers@ciw-online.org or call 239-657-8311 as soon as possible to let the workers know how you will participate in this year's action!