Culture

The People In The Fields: Coachella Valley Farm Worker Documentary Project

In the background, silent, with worn faces and weathered hands, a group of people pick produce or fruit, sorting or packing goods. “Bultos,” says Noé Montes, a Los Angeles-based photographer. A bulge in the ground, that’s how most people imagine farm workers, he says.



Montes, who grew up in a family of farmworkers that labored in California’s Central and San Joaquin Valleys, started taking photos of farmworkers early on in his career and mainly on his personal time. But after applying and being awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he narrowed his initial idea of doing a statewide farmworker photo project down to the Coachella Valley area.



He eventually settled on an idea: the Coachella Valley Farm Workers project.





Montes interviewed and photographed 15 residents throughout a two-year span starting in 2015. All of them come from different backgrounds. Some immigrated to the US under the Bracero program, others came undocumented looking for work in the fields, and some were children of farm workers that went to college and now returned in hopes of uplifting their community.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Jeronimo Estrada- Jeronimo was born in 1962 in the state of Guerrero in Mexico. Among the reasons he left school was that he had started to see Mexico as a failed state and realized that an education would not necessarily pull him out of poverty, “Many people in Mexico have to live resigned to poverty.” Over the years he walked the hundred mile distance between the U.S-Mexico border to the Coachella Valley six or seven times, sometimes in the desert heat, he says it’s what you had to do. Jeronimo came to the U.S. to work in the fields, he has raised a family and bought a home and he continues to work in the fields. Jeronimo’s son, Castulo, is the Assistant Engineer for Coachella, CA and the Vice President of the Board of the Coachella Valley Water District. In this position Castulo is involved in making decisions and recommendations as to how Riverside County’s resources get allocated. For the first time in history, the population of the Eastern Coachella Valley has a seat at the table when decisions about services and infrastructure are being made. —See the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress

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Montes said he didn’t want to show the common image of a farmworker hunched over in the fields, but an intimate side of their lives at home, at a playground where they grew up, or with their partners.



“They’re not a symbol of poverty or a metaphor for inequality,” Montes said. “They’re people.”



Coachella Valley Farm Workers- Juan Torres and Margarita Torres- Working in the fields is hard arduous work that many people do for their entire lives. There is no health insurance and there are no retirement plans. People work until their bodies can’t do it anymore and then they have to figure out how they are going to survive the rest of their lives. If they are lucky they have a little bit of savings or their family helps them. Some people have Medi-Cal or Medicaid but most people don’t. Many retired farmworkers live on only the few hundred dollars they receive from social security every month. Margarita Torres. Juan’s wife, passed away in 2015. —Read the rest of his profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #healthcarereform

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Montes said that he understands that life working the fields is tough. Many of the issues that farmworkers were fighting over 50 years ago — like shading or bathrooms — or dealing with — homelessness, domestic violence — are still the ones seen in their lives.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Silvia Paz- Silvia photographed where she grew up in La Peña, a mobile home park just southeast of the town of Mecca California. Half of her family stayed in the border town of Mexicali because they did not have legal residency in the United States. Her mother worked in the fields in the Coachella Valley in order to sustain both households. She remembers her childhood as carefree but as she started growing up she began to think about inequality. Her mother’s situation seemed especially unfair to her and she began to question the fairness of a system in which there was such a lack of opportunity for people with very limited resources. Silvia excelled in school and received a B.A. in English from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University with the goal of returning to the Eastern Coachella Valley to work for the betterment of her community. Currently she is interested in trying some of the ideas of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity in the valley. These ideas stem from the fact that many of the countries current policies and systems reflect institutional racism that was in place when those systems were developed, to address this the decision-making matrix in government moving forward should include an equity analysis. —Read the rest of Silvia’s profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #GovernmentAllianceonRaceandEquity

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Yet, his upbringing gave him an appreciation for the social assets that farmworkers possess.



“Because I grew up in that community I know what those people are like: very intelligent, very sophisticated thinkers. They have so much to give to their own community but also to society in a larger way, our understanding of each other,” Montes said.





Montes is currently working on exhibitions locally to showcase his photos.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers Maria Machuca (photographed with her father Simon Machuca) Maria credits people working before her in the community as people with vision and sees herself as part of that continuum. She is loving and protective of her community and tries to balance progress with tradition. Her experience has taught her that through a process of building relationships with people that are different than you things get accomplished. “If you do the work, change happens”. She does the work, day after day, year after year. Seeing the positive change in her community nurtures her and gives her energy. — Read the rest of Maria's profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio — #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community

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For now, he’s posting regular updates on his Instagram.





Visit the Coachella Valley Farm Workers Project here.

Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled

Entertainment

Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled

Netflix has officially selected a Latina to keep the legacy of Tejano music legend, Selena Quintanilla, alive. For its highly anticipated show “Selena: The Series,” the big-time streaming platform has tapped Christian Serratos, AKA Rosita Espinosa of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” series.

Twenty-four years after her tragic death Selena is, once again, being brought back to life on the screen.

Little information has been released by Netflix about the series, but Serratos casting will undoubtedly launch quite a bit of chatter.

christianserratos/ Instagram

The series, which was created with the participation of the Quintanilla family and announced by Netflix last December, has already garnered quite a bit of anticipation online. Back in 1997, the casting process for the singer had the Latino community astir for months until it was finally revealed that then-dancer, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez (still known as a triple threat for her moves, voice and acting chops) had earned the role. The Boricua’s casting caused quite the controversy primarily because she was not Mexican. This time around, Netflix kept the controversy in mind while conducting casting. In a recent interview with NBC News, Moisés Zamora– who is the head writer and one of the executive producers for the show– explained how crucial it was for him to ensure Mexican- identity was strongly included in the show.

“I associated her with my family and being Mexican in America,” he told the outlet at the time while highlighting how the younger singer was shaped by her identity of being a woman of Mexican heritage who also grew up in Corpus Christi while speaking English.

For the latest portrayal of Selena, the executive producer was involved in the casting of Serratos, a Latina of both Mexican and Italian descent.

Serratos knows all about breathing life into deceased characters.

AMC

For four seasons she has raged against the undead in “The Walk Dead” and in her earlier career played Angela Webber, friend to Bella Swan lover of vampires, in Twilight.

According to outlets, it’s unclear how the series will tackle Quintanilla’s vocals.

Back when Lopez took her turn as the singer, she was made to lip-sync to Quintanilla’s vocals. We’re pretty sure that if Netflix doesn’t decide to do the same, they’ll be in good hands because Serratos voice is banging. She even sings “Baila Esta Cumbia” in this compilation!

So far fans of Selena are on board with the news.

While buzz online hasn’t quite ramped up, we’re pretty sure once news of the casting catches on Latina Twitter will be doing the washing machine for days.

And it appears Serratos has the Selena Fan Club seal of approval.

And it’s no wonder why! Serratos cuts a pretty uncanny resemblance to the Tejano beauty.

Of course, while most of the reactions to Serratos casting have been positive the TWD club is a bit worried.

Okay TBH it feels like a worthy sacrifice.

Like literally people are bummed.

Pero… like I said! Serratos as Selena will totally be worth it.

(Jeeze… wonder if she’ll die by zombie attack?)

But there is a silver lining to the upset.

If fans of “The Walking Dead” are this bummed over possibly losing Serratos, that means she must be pretty damn good at taking on great roles. So here’s to Serratos and her new role! Hopefully, for TWD fans she’ll be able to juggle both… if not bidi bidi bom bom.

A Judge In Mexico City Has Approved One Couple’s Request For Recreational Cocaine

Things That Matter

A Judge In Mexico City Has Approved One Couple’s Request For Recreational Cocaine

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In a historic step toward ending the country’s deadly “war on drugs”, a judge in Mexico has approved the request of two people to legally possess, transport and use cocaine. Víctor Octavio Luna Escobedo, an administrative court judge in Mexico City, made the historic decisions saying “the consumption of cocaine doesn’t put one’s health in great risk, except in the case that it’s used chronically and excessively.”

Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD), a nongovernmental organization filed injunction requests on behalf of the two individuals. It pursued the case with goals to trying to change Mexico’s drug policy. At the core of the organization’s argument is that criminalizing consumers causes even more violence. If the ruling is ratified by a higher court, it would be the first time any cocaine use has been legal in Mexico.

According to Mexico Daily News, the Mexico City judge set a string of stipulations for the unidentified couple in order for them to use the cocaine. This includes regulating the amount they intake to 500 milligrams per day and not working, driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of the substance. This also includes not being able to consume cocaine in public, in the presence of children, or even encourage others to consume it.

So is cocaine really legal in Mexico? Here’s what you need to know. 

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The order by the judge to the country’s health authority has many wondering if one day Mexico could, at some point, legalize cocaine use, but only on a case-by-case basis. As of now, the judge’s ruling must be reviewed by a higher court panel of judges for the case to move forward. 

“We have been working for a safer, more just and peaceful Mexico for years, and with this case we insist on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs other than marijuana and design better public policies that explore all available options, including the regulation,” Lisa Sanchez, director of MUAC, said in a statement.

The judge wrote in his ruling that the use of cocaine has certain benefits if consumed responsibly. “Ingestion can have various results, including alleviating tension, intensification of perceptions and the desire for new personal and spiritual experiences,” the judge said.

While two people have been allowed to take the drug, there is a bevy of injunctions and court orders that have followed. Which means the judge’s decisions could still be overturned.

Credit: @Vice / Twitter

 Cofepris, Mexico’s national health regulator, is being ordered to authorize the two people to legally possess, transport and use cocaine. But Cofepris says that such authorization is outside its power and has now blocked the court order as a result. The rulings are set to be reviewed by three collegiate court judges that will then set forth the legal standing of judges ruling.

The next step in the decision will be an appeal to the circuit court. This essentially means that the case could land all the way up to Mexico’s Supreme Court. Even if the decision is then upheld, cocaine wouldn’t suddenly become legal in Mexico. While in the U.S., a Supreme Court ruling makes it the law of the land, In Mexico the Supreme Court must hand down similar rulings in at least four other cases.

“This case is about insisting on the need to stop criminalizing users of drugs… and design better public policies that explore all the available options, including regulation,” Sanchez said.

The ruling could be a landmark moment and opportunity for debate in Mexico, where a 15 year-long drug war has taken the lives of many. 

Credit: @standardnews / Twitter

Mexico has become a central battleground and transit point for cocaine being transported to the United States. Trafficking gangs have also grown immensely since 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderón sent in the country’s army to fight drug traffickers. More than 20,000 people have been killed and 40,000 disappeared since then. This year has already been a stark reminder of the deadly drug war as Mexico is on pace to have the most murders on record.

“This case represents another step in the fight to construct alternative drug policies that allow [Mexico] to redirect its security efforts and better address public health,” Sanchez said. “We have spent years working for a more secure, just and peaceful Mexico.” 

READ: This Shipment Of Jalapeños Turned Out To Be One Of The Year’s Biggest Marijuana Bust

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