A Corrido is a narrative song that relates the story or event of local community or national interest- a hero’s deeds, a bandit’s exploits, immigration, or a natura disaster. Usually sung in fast waltz time, now often in polka rhythm, they are usually narrated from the point of view of the oppressed, or the underdog. They are meant to represent “la voz del pueblo,” the voice of the people.
There are many corridos written in and about Ventura County including El Corrido de la Inundanción de la Presa de San Francisquito (The Ballad of the St. Francis Dam Disaster), El Corrido de Chino Valdez (The Ballad of Chino Valdez), El Corrido de la Huelga de Rancho Sespe (The Ballad of the Rancho Sespe Strike) written by Rafael Haro, and El Corrido de la Huelga de Pizcadores (The Ballad of the Pickers Strike).
On February 8, 1941 over 6,000 Mexican lemon pickers went on a six-month strike against Ventura County’s citrus industry. With help from the Agricultural Citrus Workers Union Local 22342, the strikers demanded higher wages, compensation for waiting time due to moisture on trees, and union recognition. Local fruit packers, many of them Mexican women, soon joined the picket lines in front of thirteen packing houses across Ventura County.
In the fourth month of the strike, Ventura County Lemon Growers refused to negotiate with the AFL and threatened to evict strikers from company housing. On May 5, 1941, the Limoneira Company shut off gas and electricity and evicted over 700 families. Evicted families settled in tent camps in Steckel Park in Santa Paula, Seaside Park in Ventura and a Farm Security Administration Camp in El Rio. The Growers who evicted the strikers imported Dust Bowl migrants to end the strike.
The two corridos shown here, were written during the Citrus Strike of 1941.
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