Things got pretty hot in Miami earlier this week as the democratic candidates duked it out for the Latino vote with a little help from Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas during the Univision/Washington Post debate. It was a great opportunity for Bernie and Hil to flex their Latino street cred for a demographic group that has yet to break clearly one way or the other, but openly prefers Democrats to that other guy. There were some dicey moments for sure, like when Hillary refused to answer a question about whether she’d be indicted for the Benghazi/personal email debacle, or when Bernie avoided exhortations to fully denounce communist Cuba. But either way, the final word will be had at the ballot box this coming Tuesday and in the primaries to come.
Along the way we did learn one interesting tidbit about Bernie Sanders’ political CV, specifically that he begged Ted Kennedy, then head of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, to let him take a trip down to Immokalee Florida to have a look at the labor conditions of migrant farmworkers. Once there, he invited members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to testify before the senate committee, spearheading an effort that resulted in drastically improved labor conditions for local tomato pickers.
It’s a strong case to make for Florida Latinos, but Bernie’s team apparently wasn’t content merely touting the senator’s record. Instead, team Bernie has pulled out all the stops on a gorgeously shot, emotionally moving mini-doc about the struggle of Immokalee workers. Focusing on the experience of a single mother and Mexican immigrant named Udelia Chautla, the Spanish-language video details the once horrific working conditions of Florida tomato pickers, including lack of adequate bathroom facilities, proper food breaks, beatings, false imprisonment, and a whole litany of shady labor practices reminiscent of America’s “peculiar institution.”
Of course, some of you might already know all about this, because the subject matter was covered a couple of years back in the documentary Food Chains, executive produced by Eva Longoria. With a similarly sharp eye, Food Chains documented the protracted battle for labor rights led by the CIW, and reminded us that we are all in some way complicit as consumers of these agricultural products. Bernie’s new ad seems to evoke the spirit of that 2014 documentary, while pulling even more heavily on the heart strings with resplendent sunset light and flurries of strings that may or may not bring a tear to your eyes.
Wherever your political affiliations may lie, you can’t deny that it’s a moving and powerful homage to the resilience of Latino immigrants sacrificing every day to guarantee a better future for their families.
The Food Chains documentary is available for streaming on iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon.