I spent most of my life living in a neighborhood off Immokalee road. That stretch of asphalt starts near the ritzy beaches of the Gulf Coast, passes the entrances of numerous gated gulf course communities, continues on through undeveloped and farm lands, and ends in it's eponymous city, Immokalee, home of modern day slavery. A strange route that starts in luxury and ends in poverty, that no one seems to want to travel down.
Today two members of the Navarrete family in that town were sentenced for slavery, the seventh case in Florida in the past 11 years. In all of those cases over 1,000 victims were involved.
Florida Department of Agriculture Spokesman Terence McElroy seems to think it's really not that big of a deal, telling The News-Press, "Of course, I say any instance is too many, and any legitimate grower
certainly does not engage in that activity, but you're
talking about maybe a case a year."
Eh, yeah. Just one little case a year. No big whoop. Whatevz.
Now activists of all stripes are up in arms (including Amnesty International, The Presbyterian Church, and the Coalition of Immokalee
workers) and sent a letter to Charlie Crist.
"Tolerating a little modern-day slavery is like tolerating a little
murder or accepting a little child abuse. ... Mr. McElroy is quick to
defend Florida growers who have, for too long, prospered through
willful ignorance of conditions in their own fields."
McElroy says he was misrepresented, but the guy is a professional spokesman. You should know the power of your words, it's what you get paid for.
By the way, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart represents this area in Congress. We wonder what he has to say.