Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Keynotes

The Fair \ Keynotes

Event date: 9/22/2018 11:00 AM Export event

Baldemar Velasquez

Baldemar Velasquez

Baldemar Velasquez

President and Founder, Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)

Our Food System: The Tie to Immigration, Migrant Workers, Exploitation and Human Trafficking

Born in 1947, Baldemar Velasquez grew up in a migrant farmworker family based in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Every year his family migrated to the Midwest and other regions to work in the fields, planting, weeding and harvesting such crops as pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, sugar beets and berries. They traveled in trucks and old cars, and often lived in barns and converted chicken coops. The family eventually settled in Ohio, and Velasquez worked in the fields seasonally through his high school years to help support the family. In 1969 he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bluffton College.

Incensed by the injustices suffered by his family and other farmworkers, Velasquez founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) in 1967. Under his leadership FLOC has set international precedents in labor history, including being the first union to negotiate multi-party collective bargaining agreements, and the first to represent H2A international guest workers under a labor agreement. Velasquez is an internationally recognized leader in the farmworker and immigrant rights movements. His commitment to justice and human dignity has led to recognition by many labor, government, academic and progressive organizations, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, a Development of People Award by the Campaign for Human Development of the U.S. Catholic Conference, an Aguila Azteca Award by the Government of México, and several honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, Bluffton University and University of Toledo. In 2009 Velasquez was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Inequity and a lack of human rights are at the root of human trafficking and directly tie to our food system. Human trafficking education, awareness and micro-level interventions will contribute little to ending trafficking and other forms of exploitation. We must pay singular attention to those institutional forces that drive inequity to create a thriving market for labor, sex and drug trafficking. Using Latin America as a case in point, fairgoers will learn about forces fueling immigration, exploitation of migrant workers and  human trafficking. These include U.S. broken foreign policy with Mexico and Latin America, such as trade agreements and immigration laws that criminalize the poor and support endemic corruption and drug cartels; U.S. global corporate supply chains and investor greed; and our broken U.S. Congress and its inability to guarantee mechanisms for citizens and immigrants to exercise their human rights, civil rights and labor rights. These are all tied to our food system. This is a call to address institutional inequality by creating a counter institutional movement among the victims and the poor. Velasquez will provide examples of how to work to restore human rights and human dignity.

Print
102

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x