The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum, a traveling exhibit consisting of a replica of the trucks involved in one of the most shocking cases of modern-day slavery in the U.S., is currently touring the nation.

The museum has toured Florida extensively, as well as appearing on the National Mall and at the State Department in Washington, D.C. It is now on a lightning tour of other East Coast locations: today, the museum is at City Hall in Boston; tomorrow, it will be in western Massachusetts, and by the end of the week it will be in Baltimore before ending the tour seven days from now with a stop in Charlotte, N.C.

The museum is based on the case of nine migrant workers who were enslaved and abused by a family in Immokalee, Florida. In this case, “modern-day slavery” is no exaggeration: in U.S. v. Navarrete, a half-dozen defendants pleaded guilty to what the U.S. Justice Department describes as “a scheme to enslave Mexican and Guatemalan nationals and compel their labor as farmworkers” in Florida.

The two “bosses” were sentenced to 12 years each in prison for crimes related to the enslavement, including “beating, threatening, restraining and locking workers in trucks to force them to work as agricultural laborers.” The Navarrete family did pay their workers, but offered what prosecutors described as “minimal wages” while driving them into debt and threatening physical harm if the workers chose to leave their employ. The Navarretes did not use the victims on their own land, but instead brought them to work on farms owned by major Florida tomato growers.

Testimony from the victims described horrific beatings and imprisonment each night in a truck under appalling conditions.

8 Responses to “Modern-Day Slavery Museum”

  1. Saoirse says:

    How could anyone doubt slavery exists today in America? It is a legacy of our own government's enslavement of its citizens:

  2. venita benitez says:

    This is too sad. How do we describe the horrific counts of human sex trafficking occuring in the United States to our children that are 11 thru 17? How do we begin to tell them that their safety is in our hands when they hear of the number of children being used for sex acts? How do we sit them down to talk about what sex is between humans, and then by the way, have to tell them that there are men out there that want to kidnap children, both boys and girls, to have sex with them and put them into today's slavery, human trafficking, for money.

  3. Saoirse says:

    You tell them the truth, Venita – that because our country was taken over by fascists who (1) made every type of human relationship and interaction a commercial one, where the only thing that matters is profit, and (2) effectively gotten rid of the Bill of Rights, making legal, even, for police not to protect and serve those children (see Dan Farber's book on the silent ninth amendment; and (3) closed America, and turned it into a police state where law-abiding Americans are terrorized and tortured and criminals keep the established "law and order" they must live in constant fear of being chum for one or another type of slavery our fascist leaders have given us, including sexual slavery. How are those Republican 'values' looking to you now?

  4. James says:

    I'll leave it to others, Saoirse, to engage with your arguments about our country and sexual slavery, if they want to.

    However, I do want to take this opportunity to address the fact that the word "fascist" is tossed around so casually in our contemporary political discourse. You're not actually talking about fascists at all, Saoirse, and seem to be using the word merely as invective, much as you might say "those nasty people who …." Even in your interpretation of events, the people you're talking about would be capitalists, and especially unfeeling ones at that, or political leaders with whom you disagree sharply. That doesn't mean they adhere to the principles of fascism, or behave as fascist philosophy would dictate.

  5. Saoirse says:

    You need to go to a dictionary and look up the word, fascist. My American Heritage, Second College Dictionary, says fascism is: "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism." As you can see, nowhere in this definition is fascism defined as an invective, and if you read the essay, the link to which I appended to my comment, you will see that our country's government met many of these criteria three decades ago. I would also challenge you to pick up a book about the heretofore most notorious fascists in history, the Nazis, where you will find a LOT of exposition about the fascists belief in and practice of slavery (Hitler said before he invaded Poland on pretenses as false as the U.S. government's pretense for invading, occupying and colonizing Iraq that Germany would use the Poles as "a vast labor camp.). I recommend Hannah Arendt's, Eichmann in Jerusalem. See what other parallels you can draw between the "free-market" liberalism of the right-wing in America these last several decades and the Nazis and their corporate sympathizers/supporters. Is it not a nice thing to BE a fascist? Of course, and that's why your leaders bend over backward to keep the American ignorant of what they do by hiring and training propagandists such as Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky (whose paycheck is signed by one of the oldest defense contractor's in America, MIT) to tell you that your problem is "corporatism," which very few people would get off the couch to find out what it meant – forget fighting it. On the other hand, ask the next 10 random people you see if they're for or against it, and I'm sure you'd get empathic disavowals of it. That's why misinformers are paid to, for example, haunt websites and denounce commentators who actually know how our laws have been changed to make this country an actual police state and aren't afraid to tell others. We are hardly the impolite and ignorant rabble-rousers you deliberately and wrongly portray us as.

  6. Saoirse says:

    (That's, 'ask the next 10 random people if they're for or against FASCISM.')

    Our Congress could have outlawed fascism in 1933 when Gen. Smedley D. Butler, USMC, uncovered the fascist plot of J.P. Morgan, et al., to overthrow Roosevelt and after investigation, Congress admitted there was just such a plot, but it didn't.

  7. Saoirse says:

    Also, this COUNTRY was founded by idealists, not moralists. The moralists who founded the corporation known as the Bay Colony failed fantastically to govern themselves so that every individual had civil rights (can you say, "Salem witch hysteria?"). The people who created the country's first government instituted a constitutional republic – not a democracy, which many of them considered "mob rule." Were they also big hypocrites who didn't give all human beings the rights of citizens? Yes. Of course. Slavery is the quintessential example of it – next to, of course, native American genocide, which they and their progenitors have practiced in one form or another to the present day. Nevertheless, these founders of our government at least made provision for the guarantees of civil rights (the bill of rights, which today's 'originalist' judiciaries have all but gotten rid of), and they also foresaw a time in their future when the status quo with which they lived would need a more flexible constitution, and they provided, with the ninth amendment, a means of adding rights to our civil rights jurisprudence as embodied in the bill of rights the (then) unenumerated rights that 'conservative' supreme court justices such as Robert Bork have called "an ink stain" on the constitution. I think it was James Madison who said when a country's sons call themselves 'conservative' its funeral bell has already been rung. Anyway – consider that ideals are immutable: freedom, justice, truth, love; whereas, 'values' are always biased: LGBT community says its members have family values, neo-cons say they don't. Well, are we all in this together, or not, this crazy, mixed up world? We've heard nothing but talk-talk about 'values' since the neo-cons came to power 30 years ago, and in that time, the culture has become debased into one that only prizes the social Darwinist's (like Nazis) view of the brute man being the only viable form of human life, our churches are impotent because of cheap grace that recognizes no truth to the everlasting battle between good and evil, and nearly every molecule inside and outside of each if us is for sale and bought and sold in a myriad of ways through various revenue streams in 'healthcare,' environmental science, agribusiness, etc. Because our leaders do not and have not for quite some time valued the human experience, never mind human life, as sacred. We'd be so lucky if we were dealing with only one form of slavery, and one group of people that it affected. I got news for you – NONE OF US is free.

  8. James says:

    Saoirse, I didn't say that fascism is defined as invective. I said you were using it that way, because you are applying it to leaders whose approach to governance you don't like, but whose philosophy and behavior doesn't remotely approach that of fascism.

    As for your belief that the United States today meets even the simplified definition of fascism provided in your college dictionary, I'll simply note that we disagree vastly on such issues as whether or not it even makes sense to suggest that Noam Chomsky is doing the bidding of the Republican Party or other mainstream politicians and their allies.

    How could we possibly be experiencing a dictatorship of the extreme right, at a time when the president of the United States is castigated by half the country as being too far to the left? How could we be engaged in belligerent nationalism, when the president refuses to even call our nation "exceptional" and the response of the other party is simply to urge him to?

    Finally, the founders did NOT provide for a means of adding new rights to the constitution in the future, as new circumstances arose. The Ninth Amendment was intended to ensure that existing rights which had arguably arisen under the law up to that time, but which were not enumerated in the first ten amendments, could not thereby be argued not to exist.

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