California: Violence in the Oasis

Hugging the Mexican border 225 miles southeast of Los Angeles lies California's Imperial Valley, a sprawling 600,000-acre oasis of mineral-rich soil and year-round sun, surrounded by the trackless wastes of the Colorado Desert. Irrigated by aqueducts from the Colorado River, this below-sea-level island in the desert yields $150 million-a-year worth of diversified agricultural products ranging from Syrian plumcots to Pakistani grapes, has nurtured a breed of rugged, Stetson-crowned farm millionaires. Last week, in a melee of millionaires, deputy sheriffs, pickets and Mexican braceros, labor violence reminiscent of the brawling 19303 erupted on the oasis.

The trouble began in the winter-lettuce fields...

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