Updates: Human rights crisis in Mexico and “Food Chains” release countdown begins…

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Students march in Mexico City in protest of the recent atrocities in Guerrero. The masks are a double entendre, evoking Mexico’s traditional “Day of the Dead” celebrations at the end of the month and the repeated findings of dozens of corpses in mass graves in the Guerrero countryside.

“Enough!  Mexico Is Ready to Explode”…  

Two weeks ago we brought you an extended analysis of the human rights crisis in Mexico and its impact on the agricultural industry there.  In a post entitled “Fear and Fair Cannot Coexist,” we wrote:

Mass graves.  Horribly disfigured corpses.  Police complicity in the ultraviolence of all-powerful drug gangs.

Since 2005, stories like these have played out across Mexico’s headlines day after day, month after month, year after year.  But the details of last month’s mass killing and disappearance of student activists in the southern state of Guerrero stood out above the ever-growing body count in Mexico’s drug and corruption wars…

mx_march… Unlike the more than 120,000 deaths in Mexico’s drug wars since 2005 — which rarely inspired any kind of concerted or widespread protests — news of these latest murders sparked outrage across the country.  Carrying signs demanding an answer to the question “Who Governs Guerrero?,” tens of thousands of people blocked streets in cities across Mexico last week (right) in an extraordinary departure from the silent resignation that typically greets news of the latest grisly killings. 

Today, another dispatch from Mexico, entitled “Enough! Mexico is Ready to Explode” tells of the continued growth of popular pressure for an end to the decade-long nightmare of drug- and corruption-fueled violence.  Written by Homero Aridjis, a widely-respected Mexican poet, novelist, and environmental activist, the piece begins with this update from the swelling popular movement sparked by last mont’s death and disappearance of nearly 50 students and labor rights activists in Guerrero:

MEXICO CITY — Mexico has been profoundly shaken by atrocities and high-level corruption in Guerrero. The earthquake’s epicenter is Iguala, the state’s third largest city. 

Fifty thousand marchers thronged Mexico City’s main avenues last Wednesday, and demonstrations took place all over the country. More than 80 delegates to the Inter-University Assembly have called for a nationwide halt to all educational activities on Nov. 5, and are asking other social groups to join them. Protesters set fire to state headquarters in Chilpancingo, Guerrero’s capital, and are sacking supermarkets and shopping centers… read more

 It goes on to chronicle the history that led to today’s extraordinary movement, and closes with these hopeful words:

Today all Mexico resounds with the cry “They took them alive, we want them back alive.” If the 43 are ever found, and they are dead (for why and where would their abductors be hiding them?), all hell may break loose. Are the president and his cabinet ready for a major upheaval? 

Police, politicians and judges have been bought off or put into office by the cartels. Mexicans are fed up with living in a pervasive state of corruption and impunity. They are losing hope. If (as Goya said) the sleep of reason produces monsters, reason has been in a coma in Mexico. What we desperately need now from Enrique Peña Nieto is a new deal that can be summed up in two words: honesty and justice. 

This can be the real Mexican Moment.

We will continue to keep an eye on events in Mexico and on the state of human rights in the Mexican agricultural industry in the months ahead.

Countdown to the big national debut of “Food Chains” begins!

Meanwhile, back here in Florida — where the Fair Food Program has helped bring about a human rights revolution in the $650 million tomato industry, transforming it from “ground zero for modern day slavery” to the “best working environment in American agriculture” — an important date is rapidly approaching.

“Food Chains”, the film that documents the history of the CIW’s struggle to modernize Florida’s tomato industry, is set to be released in just thee short weeks, and the final stages of planning for the big release are underway!

Exclusive Food Chains sneak peek, released on Food Day. 

The Immokalee crew is working closely with the Food Chains filmmakers to put together panels, actions, and other events around the screenings to inspire the thousands of viewers across the country to join the Fair Food Nation after watching the film. 

Very quickly, we wanted to share a few important updates for everyone who is looking to take action around the Food Chains release.  First up, here is the most recent list of opening weekend cities (for the full calendar, check the Food Chains website):

  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Bonita Springs, FL
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York City, NY

  • Orlando, FL
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Pittsburgh, CA
  • Salinas, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Tampa, FL
  • Washington, DC

The most important action you can take is to get people out to the film and the actions on opening weekend.  The “Food Chains” team has worked out a special group rate for CIW supporters in groups, so we urge you all to storm the theaters with your friends!  And if you have a group or know of organizations that would be interested in group ticket sales in your city, please let us know.

If you’re ready to take action in November, get in touch with us at workers (at)!

New Fair Food Label takes off!

Excerpt of Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, speaking on Huffington Post Live about the Fair Food label on Food Day.  To watch the full interview, click here. New Fair Food Program label a huge hit in print and social media on Food Day…  The Fair Food Program’s new label debuted this past Friday, and it made quite the splash in the national media and the Twittersphere in the process!  The label, which was nearly five years in the making while the Fair Food Program was hard at work in the fields cleaning up generations of exploitation and abuse, was greeted […]

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“We have waited nearly five years before revealing this label to the world today…”

CIW releases long-awaited Fair Food Label! After four seasons of careful implementation of its unique model of worker-driven social responsibility, including the last three seasons across more than 90% of Florida’s $650 million tomato industry, the CIW is unveiling today the first-ever Fair Food Program label (above).  Its release truly marks a major milestone in the two-decade long journey that farmworkers and consumers have traveled together to bring justice to Florida’s fields (and beyond!). And there is no day more appropriate than Food Day – when people across the country stop to reflect on the future of our food system – to launch an image representing the historic remaking of the Florida tomato industry […]

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This Friday, help us spread the word as we launch the first-ever consumer label of the Fair Food Program!

This Friday, let’s make this Food Day the first-ever Fair Food Day! There are few food labels in the world with a history as deep — or a human rights program as remarkable — as the new Fair Food Program label, ready for its big reveal this coming Food Day, Friday, October 24th.   Indeed, it is an image two decades in the making.  It has been twenty years since farmworkers began organizing in the streets of Immokalee for “dignity, dialogue, and a fair wage”; thirteen years since consumers across the country took a stand, side by side with farmworkers, to hold the world’s largest buyers of Florida […]

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Exclusive new clip, Oscar buzz, more… Let’s check in on “Food Chains” one month out from Nov. 21 national release!

Film industry starting to take notice as Indiewire, Awards Circuit run stories on “Food Chains” ahead of its Thanksgiving release! The theatrical release of a feature film on the Campaign for Fair Food has always seemed, quite honestly, a little surreal, but as we reach the one month mark in the countdown to its November 21st release, it’s becoming more real by the day. Above is an exclusive clip shared with the online industry blog Indiewire for a quick story on the film, presented with this introduction: With all things “organic,” “artisanal,” and “locally sourced” being among the food trends […]

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Divestment? Now there’s an interesting idea for a campaign…

The exciting new documentary “Food Chains” is having an impact even before it’s released, prompting one Berlin Film Festival goer to divest 50,000 shares in Wendy’s after seeing the film… Well this was a surprise.  And a thought-provoking one at that. This week, news reached the CIW via the “Food Chains” crew that a certain Mr. James Scurlock had written to inform them that he had decided to sell his family’s holdings in Wendy’s until the hamburger giant joins the Fair Food Program!   Apparently, Mr. Scurlock had attended the big “Food Chains” premiere in Berlin last February and was so moved by the film and the […]

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Fear and Fair cannot coexist…

Last month’s horrific massacre of student human rights activists in Guerrero serves as an awful reminder of why there will be no “Fair Food Program” in the foreseeable future of Mexico’s tomato industry… Mass graves.  Horribly disfigured corpses.  Police complicity in the ultraviolence of all-powerful drug gangs. Since 2005, stories like these have played out across Mexico’s headlines day after day, month after month, year after year.  But the details of last month’s mass killing and disappearance of student activists in the southern state of Guerrero stood out above the ever-growing body count in Mexico’s drug and corruption wars.  From a […]

Read More »

Must-see new video puts the Fair Food Program at center stage!

  New video a preview of things to come this fall as the Fair Food Program gets ready for prime time… It has been quietly taking shape in Florida’s fields for four seasons now, laying a foundation, building its track record, and reinforcing its gains.  Through the painstaking efforts of over 30,000 farmworkers, 30 farms, a dozen major retail food brands, and more than two dozen dedicated human rights defenders, the award-winning Fair Food Program has helped usher in a new day for Florida farmworkers, and in the process has reshaped an industry from “the worst to the best” workplace environment in US agriculture.   And now, the […]

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A call to a different kind of action! “Food Chains” director calls on Fair Food Nation to mobilize for film release…

Film’s national release coming up fast! As the November 21st nationwide release of “Food Chains” rapidly approaches, we are thrilled to be able to share the list of cities in which a full theatrical launch is planned (a “full theatrical launch” is when a film is screened at a proper theater for a week or more).  Thus far those cities include: English language: New York City, Los Angeles (Pasadena), San Francisco, Orlando, Tampa, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Washington DC, Chicago and Bonita Springs (FL), with the possibility of Miami Spanish language: Salinas (CA), Pittsburgh (CA), Bakersfield (CA) Food Chains will be released in more major cities on November 28th, including […]

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One final, unforgettable moment from last week’s CGI meetings in New York…

  In CNN interview, President Clinton calls the Fair Food Program, “brilliant,” adds, “You’ve got a success model, and you ought to put the pedal to the metal…” Last week’s ceremony at which the CIW was honored with the 2014 Clinton Global Citizen Award was a night that will not soon be forgotten.  But the three days that followed the award ceremony — the actual business end of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting — were every bit as exciting.  Here’s a thumbnail summary of the week from the Rev. Noelle Damico, a longtime CIW ally who witnessed the scene […]

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Hot off the digital press: A social media round-up and a beautiful new image for 21st century food justice!

Clinton Global Citizen Award sparks surge of social media about @CIW and the #FairFoodProgram… Sunday’s Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony in New York was a truly unforgettable celebration of the remarkable progress achieved in Florida’s fields through the Fair Food Program.  Over 1,000 people squeezed into the Sheraton ballroom in Times Square for an evening line-up that included the Clinton family, Leonardo DiCaprio, Seth Myers, the Roots, Aloe Blacc, Natalie Merchant and hundreds of leading figures in the world working for social, economic, and environmental justice.  But as amazing as the scene was inside the room, the crowd outside was even more impressive.  So strong was […]

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President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor CIW with Global Citizen Award!

President Bill Clinton calls CIW’s Fair Food Program “the most astonishing thing politically happening in the world we’re living in today” On Sunday, September 21, 2014, President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) for “defending the human rights of farmworkers across the United States”. The Global Citizen Award was presented to the CIW by actress and activist Eva Longoria. The CIW received the Award alongside actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Atifete Jahjaga, the President of Kosovo. President Barack Obama will also speak at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. At the end […]

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The largest climate march in the history of the planet…

  CIW joins over 300,000 in People’s Climate March in advance of Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony… As we wait for tonight’s Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony to get underway, here is a quick dispatch from the streets of New York! This afternoon, over a dozen CIW members joined people from all over the globe — New York families, Superstorm Sandy survivors, indigenous groups, Chinese farmworkers, and everyone in between — in what is being called “the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet”  Organizers estimate that a record-breaking 310,000 individuals came out to join the People’s Climate March, […]

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Lost in the flood: Two great stories on the FFP get left behind in deluge of big news…

With all the recent news surrounding the Clinton Global Citizen Award and the fast-approaching release of “Food Chains,” some stories just get lost in the flood.  However, two such stories from recent days were too good leave behind forever, so we thought we’d take advantage of this brief break in the action to reach back a couple of weeks and share them with you today. First up is a beautifully written reflection by the Editor of the Sarasota Magazine that brought you last month’s must-read article, “Fairness in the Fields: A Sarasota Organization Brings Hope and Justice to Florida’s Tomato Fields”.  The Editor’s piece is […]

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From the director’s chair: An update on the film “Food Chains”…

  See how you can organize to bring the film to your city, school, or place of worship this fall! As many readers of this site already know, the documentary Food Chains, which chronicles the CIW’s battle for Fair Food and the issue of farm labor exploitation around the country, will be opening in theaters nationwide on November 21st.  What does that mean, exactly?  Will you be able to go to your local cineplex to see Food Chains?  Will it be available on cable and iTunes and other digital media? We asked Food Chains director Sanjay Rawal to give us a brief […]

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Clinton Global Citizen award makes the headlines…

From Food Chains director Sanjay Rawal, in the Ft. Myers News-Press: “It begs this question of companies like Publix, Ahold, Kroger and Wendy’s: When hundreds of CEOs, heads of state and thought leaders are gathered to [honor the CIW and the Fair Food Program], why are you so stubbornly against progress in America’s fields?” News of the Clinton Global Initiative’s selection of the CIW to receive the 2014 Global Citizen Award — to be presented this coming Sunday at a gala ceremony in New York City — made the headlines far and wide this past weekend.  Media outlets from the Hollywood […]

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