7pm Friday Oct. 8, 2010
The Mexico-US Solidarity Network presents:
The Bracero Story: Stolen Wages and the Struggle of Mexican Guest Workers
with guest speakers Norberto Flores of the National Assembly of Braceros & Stuart Schussler of the Mexico Solidarity Network.
The presentation will be in Spanish with English translation.
Resistencia Bookstore, casa de Red Salmon Arts
1801-A South First St., Austin, Tejas
Come hear them speak about this landmark labor agreement
& how Braceros and their families are currently organizing to raise awareness of their contributions to the war effort
and demand the restitution of wages unlawfully stolen from them by the Mexican and US governments.
Norberto will speak about his father’s experience in the largest binational labor agreement in world history- the Bracero Program of 1942-1964.
Today Norberto and his fellow ex-Braceros are struggling to recuperate the 10% of their wages that was placed in an obligatory savings account and never returned to them.
The National Assembly of Braceros is also a member of the Zapatista’s Other Campaign.
The official intent of the Bracero Program was to counteract the lack of agricultural labor during World War II, but as the program’s lifespan extended, it ushered in an era of labor flexibilization, the combined use of undocumented and guest workers, and gentlemen’s agreements between business owners and government officials that would set the stage for the neoliberal reforms of the 1970s.
One of the goals of this tour is to make connections with former Braceros now living in Texas.
The Bracero Program spanned 22 years, 1.5 million guest workers, and 5 million contracts, making it the largest binational labor agreement in world history. The program shaped US agriculture and US immigration policies for decades to come, and the government-sponsored wage theft suffered by the Braceros is a testament to the predatory potential of
future guest worker programs.
The Bracero Program was truly a landmark initiative. In addition to providing much-needed agricultural labor during wartime shortages and providing cheap food was that essential to the post-war economic boom, the Bracero Program also ushered in other practices that would cause massive changes in the United States’ economy and politics. For
instance, Operation Wetback was an immigration sting conducted in the midst of the Bracero Program which set the stage for a style of immigration enforcement that relies on spectacle and punishing undocumented workers instead of their employers. During the Bracero Program farm owners experimented with using different combinations of
domestic, guest, and undocumented labor, allowing them to use the ultra-flexible just-in-time production that would later be adopted by many other industries. Finally, although the Braceros’ interests were formally represented by the Mexican government, in practice they were at the service of farm owners and their representatives in the US government, reflecting the loss of labor rights that occurred in the US following WWII.