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February 25th, 2008
09:59 PM ET

Bimbo's Point of View

Bimbo Relan (yes, he really calls himself Bimbo) is a tall, cigar- chomping strawberry farmer in Amite, Louisiana. Bimbo can be described with a simple down-home colloquialism, but let him reveal himself in his own words. These days, folks who think like Bimbo don’t tend to share their innermost feelings when a TV camera crew shows up on their doorstep. At first, I thought he would tell us to get off his property, maybe even threaten to run us over in his white, king cab pickup. I was wrong.

Stepping out of his truck, decked out in cowboy boots, professional bronc-riding belt buckle and pressed, striped red and white shirt, was this cigar-sucking tower of a man ready to talk. And talk he did. We were there to discuss Bimbo’s treatment of the migrant workers, mostly Mexicans, who come in to pick his strawberries. He employs them through the H2 visa program operated by the Department of Labor for growers who can’t find U.S. citizens willing and able to do this backbreaking work. Bimbo has been accused of ignoring the rules that cover seasonal employment of these workers, and you’d think he’d be careful about what he says. You’d be wrong.

It started out bad, and in the course of a 15-minute interview it got worse. "Mexicans are all crooks and drug dealers," Bimbo told me of the workers who make sure his berries arrive on your table plump, red and moist. " You could have 'em living in the White House like George Bush, and in two days it’ll look like a pig pen. "Lest you think Bimbo reserves his stereotypes just for his Mexican workers, he also confided that, "Jews like to work" (apparently no one else does) and "they stay married to the same woman and that's why they got all the money."

Why should you care about Bimbo and his quaint views? Because Bimbo Relan, through the H2 visa program, is one of our unofficial ambassadors to the Mexican people. And when his seasonal workers go back to Mexico and talk to their neighbors, their views of all of us might look a lot like their view of Bimbo Relan. I hope you'll watch Bimbo tonight. Let me know what you think of him.

-Drew Griffin, 360° Correspondent


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