Letter from an Immokalee Worker…

CIW member Carmen Esquivel pens a letter to Publix, another to fellow workers in Immokalee

Every hour of every day, the CIW organizes in two very different worlds: In the farmworker community, and, for lack of a better term, in the outside world.

They are two very distinct spheres of activity — with distinct organizing styles, strategies, tools, languages, and objectives — and rarely do they meet, usually intersecting only during the major annual actions when large numbers of CIW members and Fair Food allies come together for an extended period of living and organizing side by side.

This website is almost exclusively an organizing tool of the “outside world,” where we share news and analysis of the Campaign for Fair Food in a language and a style aimed at the vast and growing network of Fair Food allies across the country, and even overseas (we’re talking to you, Ahold!…).

But today, those two worlds come beautifully together in a letter — two letters, actually — penned by CIW member Carmen Esquivel (shown here, above, speaking at the rally following April’s huge Farmworker Freedom March in Lakeland).

Doña Carmen wrote the letters, one to Publix, the other to her fellow workers in Immokalee, on the occasion of last month’s announcement of the watershed agreement between the CIW and the FTGE. Never one to take her eye off the ball, Doña Carmen took the opportunity to remind Publix and other workers that the campaign is far from over, and we will continue to fight until “we liberate ourselves from the injustice that still exists.”

To Publix, she writes, in part:

“… Together with the CIW we have been here knocking on your door for months. You haven’t heard us or paid us any attention. It seems you must think us so insignificant and so inferior that sometimes it seems that until we reach our divine justice we’ll be divided in society. But despite the immense sacrifices and our protests for liberty in which entire communities have been witness to our struggle, you still haven’t seen us.

Publix, listen well. We are no longer what we were, and we may not be the same people who are here today, but we will not stop making our demands. Our families deserve to live with dignity and we have the right to fight for their well being. We are asking for one more penny for our labor and respect for our sweat.” read more

And to her fellow workers she writes:

“… I want to breakthrough to the worker who believes the doubts that have been planted in his mind that tell him that change is impossible, to the worker who can’t defend his rights because he fears retaliation. Many of us know that fighting alongside the CIW requires courage and therefore we must have the guts to protest in the streets. We have hundreds of followers, working people and people of faith. I know that if we all stand together under the same blue banner we will not fail.” read more

Doña Carmen’s letter is a inspiring confluence of the CIW’s two worlds, so much so that we were moved to share it with you today in its entirety. Click here to see the letters in full. We hope you, too, are inspired by their words for the battle that lies ahead.