For several days, the Los Angeles Times has been running an excellent series on the exploitation of farm workers in Mexico. Here is a bit of information on how the people who grow the produce you buy at Walmart are treated.

Sunday was the first story in the Times' four-part series, detailing the near-slavery conditions of many agricultural workers on huge Mexican farms that supply chains like Whole Foods, Safeway, and Walmart. Today, the Times focuses on working conditions at a farm owned by Bioparque, which supplied tomatoes to Walmart, among others. The farm employed hundreds of poor indigenous workers at a salary of $8 per day. The rudimentary, scorpion-infested camps where the workers lived had not child care facilities or schools. The workers were not given enough food to feed their families. If they wanted more, they had to buy it at inflated prices at the company store. People too sick to work were denied food. Worse, workers were not allowed to leave. They were essentially locked in a prison work camp:

Two young women spotted by a company guard just outside the front gate were dragged back inside. A boss had each one by the collar. They hung their heads, Guillermo Martinez said.

"I just want to go home,'' he recalled one woman crying out.

Bosses threw the women's backpacks in a storage room filled with confiscated belongings. They routinely took escapees' shoes and docked them three days' pay.

Walmart says it has stopped buying tomatoes from this company, which is thoughtful.

This is just one example of why there should be an international minimum wage. In the meantime there are groups that you can support that help farm workers.

Santa Claus is watching, motherfuckers.

[Photo: Flickr]