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21st-Century Slaves



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Shared Triumph
Photograph by Jodi Cobb

Francisco Martinez, left, and Alejandro Benitez share an extraordinary bond: Both have experienced brutality at the hands of modern-day slaveholders, and both have committed themselves to helping other farmworkers escape bondage in the fields and groves of Florida. Benitez was working for a passenger van service when he and his boss were attacked by armed slaveholders for giving rides to farmworkers, some of them slaves, who wanted to leave the area. He helped federal investigators build a case against Juan, Ramiro, and Jose Luis Ramos that last year sent the three convicted traffickers to jail for a combined total of 34 years. Martinez joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (headquarters, above) after he escaped from a nearby forced-labor operation. He now counsels other farmworkers about their rights, and helps those who have been forced to labor as slaves to reorient themselves to liberty. "We're looking forward to the day when there aren't any more slaves to rescue," says Martinez, "but as long as there are, this is work we'll be proud to do."

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon F100
Film Type: Kodachrome 200
Lens: 24mm
Speed and F-Stop: 1/60 @ f/2.8

Weather Conditions: Indoors
Time of Day: Unrecorded
Lighting Techniques: Ambient flash



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