Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Postville Anniversary -- Two Towns in Decline

The year since ICE raided the kosher meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors Inc, has not been good to Postville, Iowa. The population has declined by almost half, Agriprocessors is in chapter 11 bankruptcy, and many Guatemala women picked up last year are moving about town with court-ordered ankle bracelets. Many of the old packinghouse workers -- and some of the new -- line up for food hand-outs. Many businesses have closed up, the kosher butchers have moved on, and the new workers -- Somalis, Palauans and some Americans -- don't much like the work and the low pay even more. The plant is in danger of closing. (See Los Angeles Times article.)

Still the misery has not been restricted to Postville. Now there is a nation-wide shortage of kosher meats with the fall-off of production. Nearby farmers who prospered by providing meat for the plant or grain to fatten the livestock are hurting. But suffering perhaps the most is the little Guatemalan village of San Jose Calderas from whence the detained workers mostly hailed. Now workers have returned home to idleness, and the remittances that once fueled local prosperity has dried up.(See Chicago Tribune article.)

Demonstrations are taking place in Postville commemorating last year's ICE raid. Church have rung their bells 389 times to protest the detention of the Agriprocessor workers. (See Associate Press article.)

No comments: