Friday, November 11

The definition of Chicano exists somewhere between Mexican and American

I've been racking my brain for a new idea. Something to slowly research off and on that I can work up to. The last few days The Braceros have been on my mind and I'm considering working on, at the very least, a treatment of their story. This ties into my own childhood, growing up in a migrant labor camp, the son of migrant parents - it's close to home.

"...the emergence of a demand in manual labor in the U.S. brought about by World War II. On August 4, 1942, the U.S. and the Mexican government instituted the Bracero program. Thousands of impoverished Mexicans abandoned their rural communities and headed north to work as braceros.

The majority of the braceros were experienced farm laborers who came from places such as "la Comarca Lagunera," Coahuila, and other important agricultural regions of Mexico. They stopped working their land and growing food for their families with the illusion that they would be able to earn a vast amount of money on the other side of the border.

Huge numbers of bracero candidates arrived by train to the northern border. Their arrival altered the social environment and economy of many border towns. Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, across from El Paso, Texas, became a historic recruitment site and substantial gathering point for the agricultural labor force.

The bracero contracts were controlled by independent farmers associations and the "Farm Bureau." The contracts were in English and the braceros would sign them without understanding their full rights and the conditions of employment. When the contracts expired, the braceros were required to turn in their permits and return to Mexico. The braceros could return to their native lands in case of an emergency, only with written permission from their boss.

Despite their enormous contribution to the American economy, the braceros suffered harassment and oppression from extremist groups and racist authorities."

1 comment:

Neil said...

I read your article on Baracero's with some interest. You close with a very liberal sounding statement that despite what they gave the country they were mistreated. This then leads on to believe thatonly the Mexcan "Bracero" was mistreated and this is inaccurate. The term eventually came to m ean a farm worker. When the law changed back in 1968 the same agricutural comapnies went all over the US hiring college students. i was one of those, worked all summer in San Luis AZ picking cantalope then on to CA to do the lettuce. At the end of the summer they charged me room and board and I came home with nothing but the experiance