May 26, 2003
On May 14 a refrigerator truck was found near Victoria, Texas. Inside were 19 people who died of asphyxiation and heatstroke. A dozen more were hospitalized. More than 100 people had been bunched in the truck with the temperature over 100 degrees inside. These were desperately poor people trying to get into the U.S. without legal papers, from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
Behind this tragedy lies a system based on the exploitation of labor with each boss trying to drive down the wages he pays. One of their favorite means is to bring in immigrant workers who have no papers and no legal rights: people who come from a desperately poor situation in their own country; people afraid to complain in this country about the extremely low wages and unsafe conditions they face.
This traffic in immigrant labor is common in the meat-packing industry, agribusiness, construction and garment, among others.
The police arrested four of the people directly involved in the incident, including the drivers of the truck and smugglers they worked with. But not touched were the owners of the various companies where the immigrants were being brought to work.
Of course not. The border patrol that let this truck pass without any inspection, the police, the district attorneys all line up in defense of a system based on the exploitation of labor.