Entry Title: "The Children of San Quintin"
Name: Griselda San Martin , United States
Category and Expertise: People, Professional


Entry Description: In Mexico’s San Quintin valley, thousands of farmworkers are hired every day as a source of cheap and flexible labor. They endure long hours hand-picking produce in extremely hot temperatures for as little as 9 dollars a day. The areas where they live are of difficult access and large families are crammed into small rooms in makeshift houses made of cardboard and plastic, without electricity or running water. Many children are unable to attend school because their families cannot afford the nominal fees or pay for uniforms and shoes. They are instead left unattended as the parents head out to the farms or are soon taken to the fields where they are put to work helping to harvest the crops. With little or no resources and limited access to an education, their childhood is lost and the cycle of poverty is perpetuated with little hope of a better future.

Story: Cecilia Sanchez has two children and is pregnant with her third. When asked how far along she is, she simply tilts her head and shrugs. She doesn’t know because she hasn’t been able to see a doctor yet. She lacks the money for the bus to get to the clinic. Sanchez’s husband works as a farmworker each day, sometimes spending more than 12 hours in the field. This month he is picking strawberries. He earns 700 pesos – about $35 – each week. On March 17, 2015, thousands of farmworkers from the San Quintín Valley of Baja California went on strike during the peak of the tomato and strawberry picking seasons. They marched en masse all the way to the Mexico-U.S. border, setting up roadblocks and barricades along the way to protest against abuses, low pay and poor working conditions. The violent demonstrations captured international headlines at the time but after a year of striking, the farm workers’ demands have yet to be met. San Quintín, located about 200 miles south of San Diego, is a rich agricultural region which ships most of its produce across the border to the United States. The modern productive processes still require human hands to harvest the crops, and thousands of indigenous workers are "hired" on a daily basis as a source of cheap and flexible labor. The areas where they live are difficult to access through unpaved dusty roads. Large families are crammed into small rooms in makeshift houses made of little more than cardboard and plastic. They live without electricity or running water and their front yards are often full of dirt, trash and burnt garbage. In the fields, they endure long hours hand-picking produce in extremely hot temperatures with no gear to protect against pesticide exposure. They make as much in a day as they would make in the U.S. in an hour. This miserable income is not enough to satisfy their children’s basic needs of decent housing, healthcare and education, one of the most crucial things a child can use to overcome poverty and build a better future. Many kids are unable to attend school because their families cannot afford the nominal fees or pay for uniforms and shoes. They are instead left unattended as the parents head out to the farms or are soon taken to the fields where they are put to work helping to harvest the crops. With little or no resources and limited access to an education, their childhood is lost and the cycle of poverty is perpetuated with little hope of a better future. The Children of San Quintin is a photography project that documents the situation of migrant farmworkers' children in Mexico and addresses pressing social issues such as poverty, health and human rights violations. My intention is to denounce the inhumane living conditions that this families endure as a result of the miserable pay that they receive meanwhile the corporations they work for make millions by the sweat of these laborers’ brow.

About the Artist: