These are harrowing times for the nearly 1,500 migrant workers laboring on Vermont’s largest dairy farms. These farmworkers, predominantly from Mexico, are forced to live in the shadows, where their farm bosses harbor them in exchange for long hours, low wages, and cheap housing. It’s a human rights stain on the state, allowing these migrant workers to live and be treated this way.
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There’s nothing new about fast food corporations unleashing environmental chaos to maximize their profits. But the recent explosion of palm oil usage is a new threat. Burger King is at the front of the pack of corporations abusing human rights and the environment to satisfy its ever-growing appetite for the oil.
Burger King has always been a corporation defined by its competition. But now it is in danger of becoming the leader in a competition nobody should want to win: fueling the development of rapacious oil palm plantations. Burger King is one of a number of food and drink corporations that rely on palm oil for everything from fry oil to puddings. The recent increase in its use has been exponential: 485 percent in the last decade alone.
Last year South Africa's bountiful Wild Coast saw the assassination of Sikhosiphi Rhadebe, activist against proposed dune mining on his homeland. The commemoration of Rhadebe who went by the name Bozooka coincided with this year's Human Rights day. At least 500 people came to stand together in solidarity to call for an end to violence under the glaring sun of the Wild Coast far off the tarred national roads.
Saluting the deceased Rhadebe, leader of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, gun shots were fired in the air giving a vivid demonstration of the sound of death that was heard on the Wild Coast a year ago. Mark Caruso, CEO of the company that applied for a permit for titanium mining on the Wild Coast had (according to local media) previously bragged in an internal email: "I am enlivened by [the] opportunity to grind all resistance to my presence."