Schwarzenegger protests water restrictions

April 17, 2009 7:59:25 PM PDT
Some of California's highest unemployment rates are in the San Joaquin Valley. County jobless rates there range from 15 to 20 percent. Valley farmers have been hit especially hard by water restrictions and on Friday Governor Schwarzenegger joined a four-day protest march.

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Friday was the final day of the march along the Valley's west side to draw more attention to the need for water for local farmers. Friday's final stretch started at Highway 152 and State Road 33 and ended with a rally at the San Luis Reservoir.

Both growers and farm workers shouted "Water! Water!" as they marched together. They say dry fields along the route are proof that federal and state leaders are killing California farmers.

Farm worker Aurrora Bautista says, "No water means no work." But, the United Farm Workers Union wants growers to instead focus on better working conditions.

The U.F.W. issued a written statement saying, "We don't oppose farmers getting access to more water, but that access should be tied to farm workers' access to clean drinking water in the fields."

Comedian and activist Paul Rodriguez marched on Thursday and took issue with the U.F.W. saying, "We are the children of Chavez. But, they need to explain to me, how does a farm worker exist without a farmer? A farmer can't farm without water."

Marchers finished Friday by crossing the California aqueduct near the Dos Amigos pumping station but they hope the message goes far beyond California's borders.

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