Veronica Zaragoza grew up in these coastal fields, picking berries and tomatoes and watching an industry being transformed.
She saw new greenhouses erected, irrigation lines spread through the fields, packing plants expanded and produce piled onto ever-larger trucks.
Everything in this fertile agricultural region 200 miles south of San Diego has changed, it seemed, except her wages. Zaragoza said she still earns 110 pesos per day, about $8 — a little more than when she started picking as a 13-year-old.
Zaragoza, now 26, joined thousands of pickers this week as they spilled onto the streets to protest low wages in a bold demonstration — the first strike by farmworkers here in decades.
Pickers not only stayed out of the fields, they stood shoulder to shoulder blocking the main highway, stalling traffic for hours and all but stopping the harvest at the height of the season.