October 2009 Archives

US Envoy Williamson on Sudan: Keep the Pressure On

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Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, former US Special Envoy to Sudan, advised human rights advocates and students to keep the pressure on the Obama Administration and the United Nations to protect the people of Darfur and Southern Sudan. "Citizen involvement has made a tremendous impact on the U.S. Governments actions with regard to Darfur," stated Williamson at a public event last Friday attended by students and by human rights activists engaged in the anti-genocide movement, including Minnesota Interfaith Darfur Coalition.

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The Human Rights Program recently sponsored an event, "Fair Food that Respects Human Rights" featuring Romeo Ramirez, the leader of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The discussion was attended by students and professionals alike who participated in an interactive discussion.

Ramirez discussed struggles facing the Immokalee works such as their extremely minimal wage, inconsistent work hours and the lack of work benefits. Immokalee Workers are paid by the 32lb bucket of tomatoes and each bucket earns 40-45 cents. This is the same amount earned by Immokalee workers in 1978. Because wages have failed to increase with the cost of living, Ramirez calls the tomato industry "a backward industry". Not only are wages low, there have been a plethora of cases concerning workers who have been threatened and abused by employers. In extreme cases, there have been situations constituting modern day slavery.

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