Unmasking the Maya

Speaking Out (Continued)

  Actor as Migra

“On their days off they can’t leave to go into town, like in our country, because if they go out, the migras, or immigration officers, grab them. They have to go out secretly, because the migras will see they’re illegals. The immigration officers know immediately because the illegals can’t speak English.”

-- Maruch Rosenta te la Krus Vaskes


  Actor as Contractor

“The contractors are all Chicanos who know how to speak English. They are the ones who deal with the ranch owners. The workers have no idea who the owner is. The workers are badly treated by the contractors. The contractors are vicious. They only paid the workers $4.00 an hour.”

-- Xun Teratol


  Tomato Picker

“When we go to cut tomatoes, they give us each a bucket. For every bucket they give us a chip. If the bucket’s not full, they scold us, they hit us, and won’t give us the chip. They treat us like dogs. When we go to work, they growl at us if we don’t work fast enough. When we’re thirsty, they say, ‘Drink the water from the ditch!’ Then they kick us.”

-- Undocumented Worker



“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers adopted the slogan, ‘From the People, for the People.’ They teach the undocumented workers about their human rights. We lived with them and slept in their trailers. Only in this way could we understand their story. We thought we were on the coffee plantations in Chiapas, but much worse.”

--Tziak Tza’pat Tz’it



Actor as don Tomate

Don Tomate Protest

“Our theatre group immediately mounted a play depicting the life of the workers. DON TOMATE Y SUS COYOTES told of the suffering that led the workers to leave their homes, many with the dangers of losing their lives, the abuses of the coyotes, contractors and foremen, the fears of undocumented workers, the temptations to spend their hard-earned money, the vices that led to grave illnesses like AIDS, the perils they faced to gain a little pay.

“In its first presentation, completely improvised, the play was applauded and we received many questions and comments about the situation in Chiapas. The workers’ consciousness was raised. They called a strike and agreed to stop working for one day.

“Our play would reinforce their demand for a raise in pay, from $4.00 to $5.25 an hour, the basic minimum wage. That was the idea and that is what happened. The workers told us that after one day of not working the ranch owners lost thousands of dollars. The following day the contractors offered $5.25 an hour. We changed the title of the play to $5.25.”

-- Xun Teratol


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