"Como trabajadores y mujeres, tenemos que
luchar por nuestros derechos y contra la violencia tanto en la labor
como en la casa"
"As women and as workers, we have to fight for our rights and against
violence both in the fields and in our own homes"
Thanks for joining us, and don't
forget to send us any news, photos, or media reports on actions in your
community -- we'll post them as soon as we can and your action can help
motivate thousands of visitors to the site across the country!
of Immokalee Workers
1995 General Strike
The CIW is today spear-heading the Taco
Bell boycott. But before we launched the national boycott in April of
2001, we had been organizing locally for many years in an effort to
modernize labor relations in Florida's fields, improve wages and working
conditions for our members, and eliminate modern-day slavery.
To learn more about the history of the
Coalition, you can go to the CIW site
where you'll find all the non-Taco Bell info on the Coalition from 1995
to 2001, including past CIW campaigns, Press Archives, Photo Galleries,
1997 General Strike
Or, you can simply click on some of
the links here below to go directly to the pages from the CIW site that
interest you... just remember to hit the back button on your browser
to return to the boycott site!:
THREE, ROOT CAUSE PEOPLE'S MARCH, MIAMI FLORIDA, NOV. 18,
As poor people and people of color
in South Florida who suffer the most direct impacts of corporate-led
globalization, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Miami Workers
Center, and Power U joined together to form "Root Cause",
to express our belief that everyone, no matter their place of birth,
ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, has the right to:
* A living wage
* Fair working conditions
* Decent housing
* Equal access to education
* A clean living and working environment
* And a voice in the decisions that shape our lives
The Root Cause People's March --
a three day, 34-mile march to Miami, where trade ministers from
throughout the hemisphere were meeting to negotiate, in secret,
the future of trade policy for 34 countries of the Americas -- was
our way to express our concerns about corporate-led free trade and
to describe our vision of a better world, based on democratic participation,
that we are organizing to make a reality. The photos and story below
are from the third and final day of that march.
Day Three started out like the previous two days of the
34-mile march to Miami, with blue skies and a strong Florida
sun beaming down from above. Here, marchers take advantage
of the lead flatbed to rest some tired feet.
The CIW contingent was going strong, including Julia Gabriel
(white bandana), one of the three RFK Human Rights Award
laureates who participated in the march before heading to
DC for the award ceremony on the 20th.
Of course, the march brought people together from across
the country, including members of the United Workers Association,
an organization of labor pool workers from Baltimore, Md...
... and this member of the Family Farm Defenders' "Mad
Cow Bloc" from Madison, WI... who, here engaged in
a serious strategic discussion on free trade, was udderly
disgusted with the impact of neoliberal policies on family
farmers both here in the US and throughout the hemisphere...
Energy was high as we started out on the final day, including
that of Reverend Marta Burke with the Fulford United Methodist
Church (in the blue t-shirt), who generously allowed hundreds
of marchers to sleep on the grounds of her church the night
before, then showed solidarity above and beyond the call
of duty, joining us on the road!
Energy levels subsided as the day wore on, of course, but
not the marchers commitment, which never flagged over the
34 mile route.
And keeping marchers' spirits high and positive were the
members of the march animation crew, who DJ'ed, chanted...
... and sang non-stop for three days, not letting anyone
take their eyes off the prize of getting to Miami and making
our voices heard as communities that live the most direct
impacts of corporate-led globalization on a daily basis.
A shout of much respect and gratitude
goes out to the members of POWER from San Francisco and
the Miami Workers Center, who kept us all moving forward
during those three long, hot days.
Our leafleters also worked non-stop during the march, making
sure bystanders heard and understood our message (our other
leafleters, not pictured here, were a little better at the
dialogue part of the job...) ...
... a message that was received with an incredible wave
of smiles, honks, and thumbs up all along the route, even
several stories above the street where our leafleters couldn't
well, alright, there were some -- very few -- Miami natives
who didn't seem to take so kindly to the march, like this
one here who wore this rather grim, unchanging expression
as the marchers filed by... (a real iguana, by the way,
sitting in trees along the march route!)...
But most were like this man, who graciously made his feelings
known with his own little sign.
The press was everywhere, and impressed with the level of
organization in the march. While media coverage in the days
leading up to the march focused on possible clashes with
the police, the press actually had to cover the issues --
working class people's issues -- during the three days of
the Root Cause march. Here Lucas Benitez of the CIW talks
with the Spanish-language television channel Univision...
While Francisca Cortez of the CIW talks with another reporter
as the march stopped outside of the INS office on Biscayne
The march made three stops on the final day, before ending
up in front of the fence surrounding the economic ministers
in downtown Miami. Here, at the first stop in front of Miami's
INS offices, marchers draw the connection between immigration
issues and free trade policies, which displace poor rural
people throughout the Americas from the land they have worked
for generations and force them into a desperate migration
in search of a way to feed their families in the new global
economy, where corporate agriculture rules the market.
Marlene Bastien, of FANM (Haitian Women of Miami) makes
the point forcefully, calling for the release of all Haitian
immigrants detained in violation of their human rights by
Then, as the march continued to grow throughout the day,
it was on to Taco Bell...
... where marchers took the CIW's message of "not just
fast, but FAIR, food" to this Biscayne Blvd. restaurant,
which was very, very well guarded by hundreds of police
(who, by some miracle, are not in this picture)...
Gerardo Reyes and Francisca Cortez of the CIW led the chants
outside Taco Bell...
... their message artfully echoed by this sign, prepared
and carried by some fine people from California who joined
the march on the final day, complete with some eye-catching
tomato costumes (which you can just barely see on the left
of the photo and behind the woman holding up the sign on
... and echoed further down the now quite long line of marchers
by two old CIW friends who traveled to the march from North
... and echoed, once again, in this simple sign, reminding
the world that there is no food without the people who break
their backs working every day to get it from the field to
your table, yet don't earn enough themselves to adequately
feed their own children.
The march moved on from Taco Bell down Biscayne...
... and continued to grow as it did, arriving at its final
stop before the fence in downtown Miami, here at the Miami
Dade School Board building...
... where Denise Perry of Miami's Power U led the call to
fight the privatization of our schools and to return schools
to community control so that all of our children may have
access to the highest quality education possible.
From the School Board, there was only one stop left -- at
the fences in Miami's downtown that the police had erected
to keep the FTAA ministerial meetings private, secret, and
free of participation by the very people whose lives were
at stake in the negotiations over the FTAA.
By the time we reached the fences, the
march had swelled to well over 1,000 people. The police
still out-numbered us, though, as nearly 3,000 police surrounded
the march, fully ready to attack those gathered in protest
with a complete arsenal of weapons (from rubber bullets
to tazers), as they would two days later in a totally outrageous
attack on marchers' human and civil rights during actions
on Thursday, Nov. 20th.
And though the crowd was huge and spirited -- big enough to
apparently either shake the ground or shake our photographer,
as the rest of the evenings' photos are even worse than this
one... -- the police remained calm, including the several
undercover police dressed as "anarchists" spotted
throughout the crowd, complete with their spanking new Eddie
Bauer anarchist duds and their backpacks full of police tools
ready to break out once they're done provoking their fellow
police with undercover "violence"...
Fortunately for all those involved, no such thing ever had
a chance to develop, as the same discipline and respect
that marked the first 33 miles of the march carried us through
the final mile, as well. So -- after leaving the fences
intact, and more than a few faux anarchists sadly disappointed
-- the marchers wrapped up a wholly successful three days
of struggle with a rally/concert in Miami's Bayfront Park,
with the able MC'ing of none other than Jaribu Hill of the
Mississippi Workers Center (above), who, as always, kept
the program tight throughout the four-hour show.
About midway through the rally, we were joined by a large
contingent of religious allies for a candlelight vigil...
... candles that conveniently doubled as lighters during
the second half of the night's music program!
A program headlined by the CIW's two favorite bands, bar
none -- Slowrider out of Los Angeles, pictured here above,
who we definitely plan to see again at our action outside
Taco Bell in late February, 2004...
... and JG & Havikenhayes out of Ft. Lauderdale (though
to us it seems like they're just straight out of Immokalee!).
Both bands rocked the rally and raised the marchers' spirits
even higher, which was no easy task after three such intense
days as those we had just lived in the Root Cause People's
Again, our thanks go out to all that
participated and made the march possible. Special thanks
-- no, thanks is not the word, really, more like just a
huge shout out -- to our compañeros at the Miami
Workers Center and Power U, the other two thirds of Root
Cause and ideal partners in this collaboration in struggle
that is sure to continue to grow and gain power in the months
and years ahead!