It was Sunday morning when my wife and I decided to go food shopping at the Paterson Farmers Market. A friend told us about a supermarket called “El Campesino” that carries a full line of vegetables and fruits at very reasonable prices.
The Paterson Farmers Market is one of the oldest farmer's markets in New Jersey and the only surviving one in continuous operation in north Jersey. The market was set up an area located near a railhead, for the purpose of selling whatever just came off the train, or whatever is going on the train later that day. The freight train no longer stops here, but the market is alive and healthy.
Over the years, the market has supplied most of all the small fruit and vegetable stores in the area as well as hospitals, institutions and supermarkets. During the war, thirty-eight east coast army camps were supplied fruits and vegetables from the Paterson Farmer’s Market.
Today, most the farms in the area are gone but the market remains active with the farmers that remain. Fruits and vegetables are still trucked in along with plants, flowers and a wide assortment of other foods. There are also butcher shops and restaurants. A recent $2.14 million renovation project saw the market get a new exterior facade, lighting, paved streets, sidewalks, awnings, canopies and signage.
As we arrived at 295 East Railway Avenue in Paterson and drove to the parking area, I could not help notice the movement of people in and out of the stores and it was only 8:30 in the morning. We entered the main entrance of El Campesino Farmers Market and found ourselves in a medium size store packed from floor to ceiling with fruits and vegetables along with aisles of other staples such as milk, eggs, bread, rice, coffee etc. We made our way in to the store pulling our shopping list out. It was a slow move through the aisles as there were many people shopping, but we managed to get everything we wanted and surprisingly even more.
My wife was born in Peru found mango de planta, camote morado and cebada. All of them she packed in a bag. When we were checking out, we asked if they had “Maiz Morado” or “Turrow” which my wife has been unable to locate locally. She claims that with one bite of Turrow she gets a warm and fuzzy feeling as if she were home with her family in Peru. The checkout person told us that they had the items but we had to go to El Rancho, their grocery and butcher store across the street. I paid my bill, walked across the street and here is the big surprise. I had purchased 4 bags of fruits and vegetables and other items. I expected a typical bill of around $50 to $100 per bag, as I pay to my local super market. Instead the bill came to $87. I was practically in shock; but elated. Now I understood why so many people where shopping in this store. By 9:30 a.m. there was a waiting line outside the store.
We ventured across the street to El Rancho. The checkout person was not exaggerating; they had aisles upon aisles filled with foods from most every Hispanic country. I could see labels such as Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and several others. We stopped at the Peru section and found the Maiz Morado, and not only. My wife purchased papa amarilla, mote,papa seca CharquiJo and Turron. She packed the cart as if she were shopping for Christmas. The glow in her face made me very happy.
My wife acted as if it were Christmas day; filling the wagon full of treasures. In the rear of the store they have a butcher. We purchased skirt steak and NY Sirloin. As I was leaving I asked about the owner and was pointed to an elegantly dressed man in his 50’s wearing a fedora style hat. I approached and asked if I could interview him for a possible story for Jornal.us. He accepted and we began to talk.
He was born in Cuba and arrived his in the U.S. at age 13. His father had been in the produce business all his life as well as his grandfather. ((The owner, Pedro Perez learned from his ancestors everything anyone would need to know to operate a fruit and vegetable market)). He learned of course much more as I soon found out. Pedro Perez has a wholesale division where he supplies fruits and vegetable to many restaurants, grocery stores, fruit, vegetable stores, and smaller supermarkets. To be able to house the amount of stock he runs through each day, he purchased a building of about 20,000 square feet. The entire building is a refrigerator. He showed me around and I can certainly say, I have never been inside refrigeration that was bigger than my house. His wife, Lilly Perez passed by and was introduced. Lilly is his childhood sweetheart, they have three kids and had been together like a bear and honey since they arrived from Cuba.
I asked permission to speak to some of the customers to get a cross-section of who was shopping at Casa De Campo. I first spoke to Mr. and Mrs. John Wellington from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. I asked him why he comes so far to shop. He responded, “It’s really not much of a trip, perhaps 10-15 minutes, but the benefit is well worth it. We have been shopping here for the past year, and I have saved over $3,000. So I am happy.”
I asked if his friends also shop here and he said, “of course, once they make the first trip they never stop.” A second shopper from Newark said, “ I am Brazilian and aside from the vegetables they have the real sugar cane, wonderful papaya and Portuguese bread.” A Dominican lady said. “ I live in North Bergen and I come here especially for the avocados and platanos. They are always ready to eat, not like the ones I used to get at the local supermarket. They always sell large bags of rice at a very low price. All my friends come to el Campesino to shop for groceries.
I walked away form this shopping experience learning something. You can get lower prices if you look for it. You should not be lazy and only shop around your neighborhood. Given the economic situation most American find themselves in, it makes sense that businesses that are able to provide quality products at a reduced price, can do well in today’s economic climate., as long as they keep up the quality. Pedro Perez has found a way that his businesses can survive even in the worst of time.
On any given day you will find whatever it is you need to find, fresh, daily, at this market. In any case, if you happen to be near the neighborhood, try El Campesino out. You will be please that you did and so will your family.
El Campesino Farmers Market
295 East Railway Avenue
Paterson, New Jersey
LOS ANGELES - A third detainee has died Friday morning while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, while he was waiting to be tried in a deportation (Removal) proceeding. Ernesto Gomez-Vasquez, a 30-year-old Guatemalan national. He was held at the Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster, Cali was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital after complaining of a headache and dizziness. He died following complications from a brain tumor.Gomez came into ICE custody July 13, 2009. Following his arrest by ICE, Gomez was screened by medical professionals from ICE's Division of Immigration Health Services. At that time, he did not report any health problems and the medical screening did not reveal any preexisting conditions.
Death of detainees at ICE centers is nothing new.
On July 24, 2009, Vera Stojka, a 55-year-old Czech Republic national being held on immigration violations, died at the Columbia Care Regional Center (CCRC) in Columbia, South Carolina. The preliminary cause of death is cardiac arrest. Stojka was admitted to the CCRC on March 31, 2009, due to longstanding medical conditions.
Last year, Valery Joseph, 23, who was born in Haiti and arrived in the United States as a young boy, died while being held at an Immigration detention center in South Florida. According to his mother, Mr. Joseph occasionally suffered seizures, but they were controlled by medication. She said that he was in good health.
TheFlorida Immigrant Advocacy Center called for an independent investigation into Mr. Joseph’s death. “Lack of access to adequate medical care is among detainees’ chief complaints,” said the center’s executive director, Cheryl Little, an immigration lawyer. “The ICE detention system is designed to fail detainees like Valery Joseph.”Ms. Fleury said, her son told her he was sometimes placed in isolation for lengthy periods and stripped naked.
In Virginia last year Guido Newbrough, 48, who was born in Germany but had lived in Virginia since age 6. A 2003 conviction for aggravated sexual battery made him subject to deportation, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him in February. Immigration officials said Newbrough died of a heart attack, but a recently completed autopsy report found an underlying cause: a raging, untreated bacterial infection. Newbrough was the second ICE detainee in less than two years to die at Piedmont, a locally run, multi-county jail near Farmville that has contracted with ICE to become one of Virginia's principal detention centers for illegal immigrants and non-citizens facing deportation.
A Post investigation last year found that 83 detainees had died in ICE custody during the previous five years in the network of private prisons, county jails and federal detention facilities across the country where the agency holds non-U.S. citizens eligible for deportation. Medical experts said 30 of those fatalities might have been prevented with proper medical care.
Expert reviews of Newbrough's autopsy suggest he would probably be alive if he had been given antibiotics. What probably began as a urinary tract infection had spread to Newbrough's kidneys and entered his bloodstream. Over several days, Newbrough developed a systemic staph infection that attacked his brain, heart and liver, riddling them with abscesses, according to the autopsy report.
United States immigration officials disagree with these complaints. A division of the Department of Homeland, SecurityImmigration and Customs Enforcement recently released a study it had done showing that the percentage of deaths per 100,000 detainees was “dramatically lower for ICE detainees than for U.S. prisons and jails and the general U.S. population as a whole.”
U.S. and Afghan commanders braced for stiffer Taliban resistance and ramped up the public-relations effort as U.S.-led forces pushed ahead with a major offensive into the southern Afghan town of Marjah.
The coalition said at least 15 Afghan civilians have been killed since the operation kicking off the U.S. surge began Saturday, but U.S. commanders said that toll hasn't cost them the ability to win local support.
At a briefing with field commanders Monday, top allied commander U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal stressed the importance of getting the word out that a rocket that killed 12 civilians on Sunday hadn't missed its target, as previously reported, but hit a house from which coalition soldiers were taking fire. Unknown to the men who called the strike, there were civilians inside, officials said
"We know the truth in this room right now and we need to make sure it gets out," he said.
It was the type of incident Gen. McChrystal has sought to avoid by tightening the rules of engagement, a move that has sharply reduced the overall level of civilian casualties. Adding to the challenge, insurgent fighters in at least one incident Monday used women and children to carry weapons and shield their attacks on coalition forces.
Marjah, with 75,000 residents, is the last Taliban bastion in the central Helmand River Valley. The alliance has committed some 15,000 Afghan, U.S. and British troops to an effort to oust the Taliban from Marjah and surrounding areas, with an eye to bringing the Afghan government back to the town.
The strategy publicly puts protecting Afghans first and emphasizes the role of governance and effective civilian administration, while special forces work to pick off hard-core Taliban insurgents. The strategy also plays up the role of Afghanistan's fledgling armed forces and of the government in Kabul.
In the battle for control of Marjah—the biggest coalition offensive since the Taliban government fell in2001—insurgents appeared to be making their fiercest stand at the central Koru Chareh bazaar and a dense residential area the Marines dubbed the Pork Chop, for its shape.
While in much of the town insurgents used hidden explosives and hit-and-run attacks to try to slow the coalition's advance, in the Koru Chareh area the insurgents launched coordinated attacks that last several hours.
NATO forces move further into Helmand province, Afghanistan, in a bid to remove Taliban forces from the area.
"We didn't know if they'd leave or stay and contest this a little bit," said Capt. Ryan Sparks, the company commander. "It looks like they want to contest this."
Taliban fighters rained rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire onto the outpost. The fighters had at least one skilled sniper, who hit several Marines and used a rifle with muzzle suppressor to make his hiding place harder to detect.
"He's bringing his A-game because this is his last stand," Lt. Col. Calvin Worth, commander of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines said of the Taliban insurgents.
The coalition advance has been plodding, slowed by mines and hidden bombs. The infantrymen and engineers who moved in vehicles on Monday to support Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, took close to five hours to travel a little more than a mile, due to the threat of buried explosives.
Company B has faced determined opposition. "We're fighting an offense from a defense," said 1st Lt. Mark Greenlief, the company's executive officer. The tough slog was delaying plans to roll out a ready-made civilian administration that will start pouring in millions of dollars in aid to the area.
"They're going to start poking back at us to prove it won't work," said Gen. McChrystal on a visit to an outpost manned by British and Afghan soldiersnorth of where the heaviest fighting is taking place.
How long the Taliban might be able to slow the offensive remained unclear. Intelligence reports indicate the few hundred insurgents who are still fighting the thousands of U.S, Afghan and British troops in and around Marjah are low on food and ammunition.
Marines in the city also reported that a midlevel Taliban commander had arrived in recent days with orders from Taliban elders in Pakistan to evacuate fighters who could escape. To evade the allied cordon around the town, some insurgents were donning the head-to-toe burkhas worn by Afghan women, the reports said.
A Marine leaps a ditch during a firefight with Taliban in Marjah on Monday. The coalition advance has been slowed by mines and hidden bombs.
MARJAH Coalition and Afghan officials redoubled their efforts to win over the town's population. Allied forces set up radio towers on either side of Marjah so they can explain in broadcasts what they are doing, and decry the evils of the TalibThe "Taliban are savages…their behavior is not based on any principles" began one broadcast, according to people in town. "Once the government reestablishes its institutions, people will realize there is a responsible administration," the broadcast continued.
The conflict in Afghanistan "is not purely a military problem," Gen. McChrystal said between stops and briefings Monday. "It is about getting people to believe."
The approach stands in stark contrast to the straightforward search-and-destroy mission that the war in Afghanistan often resembled in the past nine years. Instead of simply clearing out the Taliban and leaving, in Marjah and future operations, coalition forces are to stay in place and give Afghan authorities time to reassert their control.
One of the most publicized initiatives to win over the local population has been the convening of a "shura"—a traditional Afghan council—of Marjah tribal elders since just before the shooting began.
That effort appeared to be yielding a return Monday when 10 men offered up by the shura began working as guides to help allied forces find bombs planted by the insurgents and to find Taliban fighters who have melted back into the population.
The insurgents appeared to be trying to take advantage of the allied rules of engagement. On Monday, Marines spotted 10 or so fighters approaching the Pork Chop area, with women and children carrying their weapons in bundles.
"They have weapons caches in mosques," said Lt. Greenlief.
The Marines requested an airstrike to hit them after the women and children had left. They were first denied permission by their commanders because of the Taliban fighters' proximity to structures that might contain civilians. When the Marines did get permission, the first attack plane malfunctioned and had to call off the strike.
Finally, the Marines sent out a unit to try to ambush the insurgents as they moved. The tactic forced the fighters into the open, and a Marine jet strafed them, apparently killing nine.
Wall Street Journal via Jornal.us
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Pakistani and U.S. forces have arrested the top Taliban military commander in Karachi, Pakistan, U.S. government officials said.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was taken into custody several days ago in a secret operation and has been subject to interrogation since then, The New York Times reported Monday.
U.S. officials said Baradar was the most significant member of the Taliban to be taken into custody during the eight years since the United States and allies invaded Afghanistan, the Times said. He is said to be more influential within the Taliban than any other member except Taliban founder Mullah Muhammad Omar -- and was described as a close associate of Osama bin Laden prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington.
There was no indication whether Baradar was talking to U.S. and Pakistani interrogators, the Times said. However, officials said his arrest had provided information about Taliban operations and there was speculation the development could lead to further arrests of senior Taliban officials.
Bruce I. Riedel, a CIA veteran who directed an Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review for the Obama administration in 2009, said the arrest of Baradar could hinder Taliban military operations, the Times reported.
U.S. and Afghan forces have been engaged since last week in a major offensive operation in southern Afghanistan.
UPI via Jornal.us