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Rufino Contreras asked for ‘a more just share’ of what he produced; bullets were the reply
United Farm Workers
Thirty-five years ago, on Feb. 10, 1979, 22 days into a bitter vegetable strike, Rufino Contreras, 28, and half a dozen fellow strikers walked into an Imperial Valley lettuce field owned by Mario Saikhon to talk with a crew of imported scabs. Three armed company foremen opened up with a vicious crossfire. Rufino fell face down in a muddy row, shot in the face. His father Lorenzo, brother Jose Luis, and other Saikhon strikers tried to aid Rufino, but they were kept away for more than an hour by continuing gunfire from the foremen. Finally, sheriff’s deputies arrived and called an ambulance. Rufino died in the hospital.

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