Foreign workers speak out during police investigation

Police transcripts reveal issues with foreign workers working and living conditions

Part of the police investigation involving farm labourer Martin Hernandez included interviews with Mexican workers who provided the following statements. Sandy Diaz-Hart acted as interpreter for the police during the investigation.

A worker who was witness to Hernandez’ original accident, Ignacio Lopez, also witnessed his fall from the ladder.

“Martin eventually called Sandy because no one else would help him out,” Lopez said. He also stated that the workers were prohibited from asking anyone (helping the workers) to set foot on his property.

When asked if he was paying rent, Lopez replied that deductions of up to $550 per season were taken from the workers pay. He was under the impression that whoever the workers invited in to provide help was their right.

“I have been unhappy since I came here,” he continued, “the living conditions are so bad – nothing is being done about it.”

He also indicated that he was upset about the treatment they were receiving on the farm, and that he had had previous issues with the employer.

A second interview involving fellow worker Carlos Areaas revealed that although he did not witness the two accidents, he was in the vicinity.

He described the scene following Hernandez’ fall from the ladder. It appeared to him that Hernandez did not receive any assistance.

“The conflict started when Martin called the cousulate,”  Areaas stated. “We are thankful for Sandy – she is the only one helping us.”

Areaas also had had heated exchanges with the employer, and had called the consulate himself in the past over another matter.

“He gets mad because we don’t speak English,” he answered to a question as to whether comments were directed at the workers were of a racial nature.

In describing the nature of the workers accommodations, Areaas described their situation as being four workers in a house with a stove that only had one working element.They slept on mattresses on the floor, there was no facility to do laundry, and the house was infested with ants and mice.


Next week: The Review speaks with other members of the foreign labour community, as well as other agriculturalists involved in the program. We also review the roles of the two federal agencies involved in the program.



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

100 miles in 24 hours: a B.C. man’s mission to support the less fortunate

Merritt’s Darius Sam felt he needed to help his community after an encounter with a struggling woman

COLUMN: Diminished Parliament means diminished accountability for Canadians

Bloc Quebecois and NDP use resumption of parliament as bargaining chip

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Flood watch for Salmon River upgraded as high temperatures, rain forecast

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for possible extreme flooding

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Drunk man on a dirt bike and prohibited drivers without insurance keep Shuswap RCMP busy

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Most Read