Bracero Primary Sources

 

The Bracero experience was very much both a build-up off of, as well as had contributed to, the exploitation and disregard in the Mexican labor force. Recounting his experience, Juan Loza elaborates on the known disparities of having been humiliated in ways of being stripped from your clothing and scoured with various disinfectants before the contracting process of the Bracero would even begin. The argument being, to prevent germs from contaminating the Mexican-American border, though, this action was granted with very little regard to how “liquid and powder disinfection” could affect the health of the Bracero workers. 

The Bracero program was intended to supply work to contracted-out workers from Mexico, however, with derogatory notions of the Mexican population established, many of the worker farms had a clear pay discrepancy against them. The work was tasking and demanded a lot without giving much in return. The Bracero were often worked 24 hours, 7 days a week, as with Loza’s experience, and if they were able to find themselves a day off, many would also find themselves turned away from dining establishments, calling for “whites only.” 

Ngai discussed this process of exploiting the Bracero program as the (further) development of the hierarchal racial order we see today, essentially constituting “imported colonialism.” This establishment of the Mexican worker position underneath the white field master brings a stark resemblance to the slave master’s power control. While the Bracero were paid contractors, Ngai argues a point to which I agree, that the arrangements of the migratory agricultural  labor force was done so with the intent to establish a cycle of supply and demand, fed by the “social segregation and isolation of Mexicans.” The agribusiness was one where a large workforce was necessary, though it would, in the end, be costly. By the organization of the Bracero program, we began to see a flood of laborers who would work for lesser pay. This then established a dominant control by the Euro-American overseers, of both the fields and the programs, eventually race. 

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