Cecilia Sanchez has two children and is pregnant with her third. When asked how far along she is, she simply tilts her head and shrugs. She doesn’t know because she hasn’t been able to see a doctor yet. She lacks the money for the bus to get to the clinic. Sanchez’s husband works as a farmworker each day, sometimes spending more than 12 hours in the field. This month the crop is strawberry. He earns 700 pesos – about $35 – each week.
In this day and age, many of us expect easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices all year round but what we don’t think too much about is the human cost of what it takes to meet our demands. Multinational corporations affirm that their suppliers in developing countries have committed to providing decent wages to their workers but the reality is that the working and living conditions are generally appalling and their human rights are constantly violated.
In Mexico’s San Quintin valley, thousands of indigenous farmworkers are hired on a daily basis as a source of cheap and flexible labor. They endure long hours hand-picking produce in extremely hot temperatures for as little as 9 dollars a day and live in areas of difficult access where large families are crammed into small rooms in makeshift houses made of little more than cardboard and plastic, without electricity or running water. The little money the make is not enough to satisfy their children’s basic needs of decent housing, healthcare and education, one of the most crucial things a child can use to overcome poverty and build a better future. Many kids are unable to attend school because their families cannot afford the nominal fees or pay for uniforms and shoes. They are instead left unattended as the parents head out to the farms or are soon taken to the fields where they are put to work helping to harvest the crops. With little or no resources and limited access to an education, their childhood is lost and the cycle of poverty is perpetuated with little hope of a better future.
San Quintin is a photography project that documents the situation of migrant farmworkers in Mexico and addresses pressing social issues such as poverty, health and human rights violations. My intention is to denounce the inhumane living conditions that the farmworkers endure as a result of the miserable pay that they receive meanwhile the corporations they work for make millions by the sweat of these laborers’ brow.