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Wal-Mart and Mexico team up to improve farmworker conditions




A migrant farm worker from Mexico harvests organic zucchini while working at the Grant Family Farms. In Mexico, an estimated 1 million laborers are living and working in squalid conditions.
A migrant farm worker from Mexico harvests organic zucchini while working at the Grant Family Farms. In Mexico, an estimated 1 million laborers are living and working in squalid conditions.
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Two months after an investigative series published in the LA Times took an in-depth look at Mexican farm workers struggling to survive in labor camps, Wal-Mart and Mexico’s government are joining forces to improve the lives of the country’s workers.

Mexico’s secretary of agriculture Enrique Martinez y Martinez unveiled a new initiative Thursday that aims to advance worker access to housing, schools and health care.

Richard Marosi and a cameraman traveled with these farm workers. He tells Take Two that workers were “essentially trapped in these barbed-wire fenced labor camps, often in very bad conditions, rodent-infested, lacking water … They’re trapped because sometimes their wages are withheld or they fall into debt at company stores and they’re not able to leave until they pay off that debt.“

Since the release of his series, conditions have started to improve at a few labor camps, but Marosi says that the newly founded coalition still has a long way to go. “I think Wal-Mart is trying to improve conditions without actually spending a lot of money on it. It’s not clear exactly what steps they’re gonna take and there’s been tremendous resistance from the industry in the past ... because some of the ventures cost money.... “