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Immigrants Boycott in Spanish Town

February 9, 2000

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Most of the 10,000 Moroccan immigrants in the strife-torn Spanish town of El Ejido boycotted work Wednesday, fearing further violence after an immigrant was arrested in connection with the murder of a young Spanish woman.

The greenhouses that blanket much of the countryside remained idle as the laborers ignored pleas from their employers to continue harvesting the vegetable crop. As many as 600 riot police patrolled the town of 52,000.

One greenhouse owner told Spanish television that he and his colleagues feared the loss of tomatoes, cucumbers and other greenhouse crops after three days of racial violence.

Over the weekend, residents chased Moroccans and other African immigrants through the streets, trashing their cars, shops and other property. The rioting was sparked by the arrest of a mentally disturbed Moroccan immigrant in connection with killing of a 26-year-old woman in an El Ejido market last Friday.

Police arrested 46 Spanish citizens after the violence against the immigrants, news agency Europa Press said. At least 15 humanitarian organizations, immigrant groups and agricultural collectives organized a rally for Friday in the nearby city of Almeria under the heading ``Live together in peace.″

A statement from the Association of Moroccan Immigrant Workers in Spain said immigrant workers should not be expected to return to work ``when they haven’t even received repayment for the moral and material damages.″

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