To make sure that no one remains in Canada after the contract is over, only married men are allowed to sign. Those eligible for the contract should have less than A-grade school learning. A quarter of their pay would be deducted as taxes and costs related with their conveyance and lodging. The SAWP workers soon find themselves disillusioned as their dreams shatter in the face of inequality and ill-treatments in the foreign land. Once famous for Heinz tomatoes, one quarter of a billion pounds of tomatoes originates from the Leamington stretch. For eight months a year, the town adds nearly 4000 migrants who work hard under wages which perhaps no local residents would be ready to work with. According to 2006 survey, out of Leamington’s total population of 28,275, there are 7,485 immigrants (Statistics Canada). A majority of these immigrants are from Mexico and Jamaica and work as seasonal laborers. The job is tiring, under inhuman conditions and oppressive. Despite claims by the western countries of their concern towards human rights, mistreatment of immigrant laborers with respect to their working conditions and medical needs indicates the contrary. Owners of tomato farms in Leamington depend heavily on Mexican laborers who have been contracted out to do the job. Yet, the treatment they receive from their employers and local residents is pretty shocking. One Mexican laborer complains in the documentary: “The majority thinks they bring us here only to work and that we don’t deserve to be treated as human beings”. The laborers often have to do hazardous jobs. Teodoro recollects an incident when a laborer’s eye was hurt while spraying. He was taken to the doctor only after long delay. They cannot afford to say no or else: “back to Mexico.” The immigrants after all need money desperately. If someone gets sick, solution is to send them to Mexico. The laborer in mask who does not want to invite troubles from the authorities cries, “I want to say to all of the employers that we are not machines, and I want them to realize, even a little bit that the money they have is thanks to the work of all the Mexican agricultural workers who came to Canada to work.” There are also instances when there is physical abuse. Teodoro narrates of an incident when through the windshield he saw one of his colleagues grabbed by neck and shoved against a van. He got out in help and protested: That’s not how you treat a worker! In the movie, laborers are instead told by Consulates and other state authorities to be careful from their side! The local residents often look in strange manners at these hard workers. Some look them with suspicion that they are here to take away their jobs. Eye chemistry of many dwellers is just insulting. However the local people do not realize that these workers have been hired only because they are ready to work at lower wage than the former. This is a clear instance of inequality. Teodoro complains: “They look at us strangely”. The managers live in luxurious mansions with their children playing in their swimming pools. They can spend time with their children unlike the migrant workers who are forced to live their home. In contrast to he employers, it is disheartening to see workers in the movie packed into close quarters with
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El Conrato The movie El Contrato by Korean-Canadian writer and documentary filmmaker Min Sook Lee traces plight of Mexican laborers in Leamington, Ontario centering on a father of four children, Theodoro Bello Martinez. The movie centers on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP) which entails the Canadian government’s agreement with Mexico and other Carribbean nations to hire workers for farms on seasonal basis…
It was released in the year 2003. El Contrato was declared as the best documentary in Iberoamerican Cinema Festival held in December 13 to 19, 2003 in Montreal – Canada, and was awarded the Taureau de Platine Award. Given below is a synopsis of this documentary.
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2 pages (500 words)Movie Review
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