Joseph SorrentinoFebruary 8, 2010 - 10:43am1 comments
Agapito stands in a field under the glare of the noon sun in Tlaquiltenango, Morelos, taking a break to talk about his life in el campo. Behind him, men are harvesting jicama. They toss the jicama—a white, slightly sweet root vegetable—into wicker baskets, which they then hoist over their heads. Running to a nearby truck, they throw the baskets to men waiting there, and then run back to the piles of jicama. Other men grab the empty baskets from the truck and run to deliver them to the harvesters. All the while, dozens of rats dart between piles of vegetation, seeking shelter from the birds that circle overhead. The birds dive now and then, occasionally snagging a rat.
Agapito, the field’s manager, surveys the frenetic scene calmly. He has worked in el campo (Mexico’s rural farmland) all his life. Like over 80 percent of all campesinos (rural workers) he is classified by the experts as “extremely poor.” He earns, on average, two dollars a day. “There’s enough to eat when there is a lot of work,” he says. What happens when there is not enough work? He shrugs. “When there is not enough work, I eat less.”
Lately, many campesinos are eating less as Mexico’s agricultural crisis continues to worsen. Not long ago, Mexico was agriculturally self-sufficient; now it imports just over 40 percent...