ENGL 432 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Bracero Program, Poorhouse, Rancho San Francisco

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9 Feb 2017
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The braceros program and bracero testimonies:
The braceros program
gave 5 million Mexicans the right to legally work in US fields.
Imposed regulations on pay and ensured they were taken care of, given place to stay as well as have
transportation
Imposed age restrictions on those that worked; no younger than 14
also allowed opportunities to receive schooling
-established in 1942 in an effort to meet the demand for manual labor in the US as a result of lack of a
labor force.
-those that were sent to work were experienced farm workers who did work with the logic that
hard labor is what Mexicans are good at and intended to do, because it is the only thing they can
do
-surrounded in an environment that was highly racist, bad living conditions, and exposure to
harsh chemicals without any protection
-by the 60's an excess of illegal farm workers destroyed the practicality and attractiveness of the
bracero program
-ended in 1962, over 4.5 million Mexican citizens came to the US
US Opinions on the Bracero program:
claimed there was not a labor shortage, thus absolutely no need for the importation of Mexican
workers.
unions greatly opposed the braceros.
--these unions influenced others to view Mexicans as negative people to get rid of the bracero program
were called racists, and that This program was discriminating other workers
Mexico's opinion:
Catholic church saw it as a disruption to family life.
Also frowned upon due to exposure to prostitution, alcohol and gambling
The fear of losing a strong labor force that could lead to the collapse of Mexico's economy was also a
problem
Braceros program was also seen as a step backward as a bigger dependence on the US to thrive
Seen as another example of economic imperialism, as the US once again outdid other countries
including Mexico through their labor forces
-However, the Braceros Program generated between 22--120 million dollar due to farm
working
-influenced the development of barrios and colonias in the US; Mexican culture surges into US, to
form a fusion of the 2 cultures once again
BRACERO TESTIMONIES:
1. Jesus Ortiz, 1942:
Was a mexican solider who left to get money for his son's surgery.
Notices that drinking and prostitution is very prevalent around the weekends
A priest was sent with the braceros to try and continue fuelling their spirituality
-soon becomes a driver of trucks for the braceros
Works for 2 years until his contract expired and goes back to Mexico and his military job as a
chauffeur, despite American companies asking him to stay and work for them
2. Espiririon Salazar, 1920
Was 15 years old the first time he went to the united States
Very poor farm worker; started working on haciendas to survive when he was 10
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