Field Guides to Food

Ernesto Velez Bustos: Community Organizer (all videos)/ Centro Campesino


Ernesto Velez Bustos, executive director of Owatonna’s Centro Campesino, discusses his organization’s mission and the problems faced by Latino immigrants in the area. He describes some of the discriminatory practices they face as workers in the area’s farms and factories, the “historical addiction” that exploitative labor practices represent for American society, and the promise of Latino youth awareness and activism.

Table of Contents:

(0:00) Background
The mission (0:08)
The complexity of the issues they face (1:17)
The educational system (1:55)
Social issues (2:40)
Issues (3:21)
Distrust in social institutions (3:33)

(5:40) Advocacy and Outreach

(6:36) The “Historical Addiction” of Labor Violations
Capital always wins (7:05)
Detachment from the issue (7:46)

(9:11) The problem of gaining allies
Personal ties (9:20)
The distancing effect of saying “I will help you” (10:12)

(11:08) Legal protections and their (lack of) enforcement
Dodges used by the agricultural industry (11:38)

(13:10) Abuses
Wage theft (13:20)
Workplace accidents (14:49)
Denial of pay (16:00)

(16:30) Barriers to reporting abuses
Trying to measure what is not reported (16:50)
Fear of being fired for complaining (17:20)
Isolation on distant farms (18:30)

(18:50) The biggest labor abusers
Farms that do the right thing (19:25)
“The bigger the farm, the more likely there will be some labor issues” (20:00)

(20:14) Does reporting make it better?
“Most people feel that laws are not there to protect them” (21:15)
Worker by worker (21:50)
The hardest part of the work (22:24)

(23:36) The promise of the youth
Growing up in a different environment than their parents did (23:47)
Bilingualism (23:55)
Educational advantages (23:59)
Growing awareness among the new generation (24:08)
Changing things (24:39)

(25:07) Connecting youth to Centro Campesino
Internships (26:00)
There are always opportunities (27:21)
Working with college students (28:03)

(28:21) Good Spanish language communication
A need for more resources (28:48)
The problem with Spanish-language newspapers (28:51)
Radio stations can only do so much (29:46)
TV stations have limited range (29:54)
Limited resources Centro Campesino can work with (30:10)
Advertising is expensive (30:28)
The problem with television (30:54)

(32:19) A Centro Campesino channel? 
Educational and informational outlet (32:43)
Social media (33:16)
A problem of delivery (33:30)


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