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A Festival Full of Hope For Farm Worker Freedom

Esperanza at Farmworker Freedom Festival

On March 8-10, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers sponsored a Freedom Festival in Palm Beach, FL to showcase their culture, educate the community, and raise awareness about modern day slavery in the fields. Hope was literally personified throughout the festival in Esperanza, a colorful two-story puppet, who made numerous appearances on the streets of Palm Beach. Esperanza waved and moved to the music and chants of “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” and “Boycott Wendys!” She represents the farm workers who are persisting in their call to the Wendy’s Corporation and Nelson Peltz, the Chairman of the Board who lives in Palm Beach, to join the Fair Food Program. She also represents women who suffer greatly from sexual harassment in the fields.

At the Freedom Festival, CIW set up their Modern Day Slavery Museum both inside and outside a tractor trailer similar to the one where 30 farm workers were held in bondage to do agricultural work in 1999. At the time, the victims were literally chained to the floor/walls of the trailer at night and released during the day to work in the fields. Situations like this where workers are forced/coerced/defrauded are still occurring with one as recently as 2019 in Georgia – relieved of their passports/work permits, workers were held against their will and forced to work under harsh conditions with little or no pay. The Freedom Festival was an opportunity to illustrate that the Fair Food Program, sponsored and administered by the CIW, is one of the best ways to ensure that these kinds of situations do not happen again.

NFWM is committed in their support of the Fair Food Program and continues to urge our supporters to boycott Wendy’s and deliver store manager letters to every Wendy’s location in the US.

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