Lillydahl, Sandy (photographer)
Eva Mondon cutting cane, 1970
"We cut sugar cane in pairs, each machetero following two rows of cane through the field. The leafy tops were slashed off and discarded on the sides of the rows, and the remaining canes were cut and stacked in piles to await pick up by the alzadora crews in trucks or ox wagons. The Cubans issued each of us thick blue grey work shirts, work pants, heavy gloves, straw hats, and work boots if we needed them. Cutting cane was very hot and demanding work, and we needed headbands and scarves to keep streams of sweat out of our eyes. Bare arms and legs risked being slashed by the sharp edged cane leaves. The little infirmary at our campamiento treated machete cuts, blisters, poison ivy like rashes caused by 'pica pica' vines, and minor illnesses. Brigadistas could purchase Cuban contact lens for $20 a pair, and some women had free abortions, which were illegal in the USA at the time."
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