Looking through these primary sources, it reminded me of school children lined up or having lunch. It seems like they live a very structured life. They board a bus, go work, have lunch, work more and go home. The primary sources mostly reflect the type of work that the braceros perform and the conditions they work under. We can see the American capitalistic culture at work being reflected through the faces of the underpaid workers as they work all day in these farms and go back to their humble homes.
The primary sources reveal the living and working experiences of some Braceros. Just as Ngai mentioned, Braceros were treated and paid poorly by their bosses in the United States. The primary sources of the personal experiences of some Braceros, therefore, add to the depth of Ngai’s work.
To begin, Braceros “provided the human labor power for the Southwest’s agricultural revolution” (Ngai, 129). From Mr. Juan Loza’s experience, he was an agricultural worker in both Texas and California and was “working with beets, thinning, with asparagus, with celery, and afterwards picking onions, picking tomatoes” every day without rest (“Juan Loza”). Also, Nadel’s photo of Braceros picking lettuce is an example of the agricultural work that Braceros did in the past.
Furthermore, Braceros were treated badly by many Euro-Americans because they were perceived as “foreigners even though the majority of the Anglos themselves had also migrated to the Southwest during the same period.” (Ngai, 132). This was supported by Loza’s experience of trying to buy a coffee in a restaurant. His order was rejected by the cashier and he was kicked three times in the behind by a white American.” (“Juan Loza”).
The primary sources given depict the life of a bracero- an individual who journeys to America in search of employment who is, to the program, merely just another cog in the wheel. Juan Loza’s interview shows that braceros headed to the U.S. had high expectations- “About twenty full busses came directly to here. They put about ninety people in them even though the capacity was about forty-five or fifty passengers. We [were so full that we] even had to ride on the bus railing, on top. I think that about twenty of us came on top and it was a long—well, a lot of time” (Loza, 2005). This quote shows that braceros expected a lot from the program due to the amount on the bus and the lengths they were willing to go by riding on the railing of the bus. Well these expectations were not necessarily shot down,- braceros were able to earn somewhat decent wages- the program saw the braceros more as a homogeneous workforce than individuals. This is firstly seen by the examination of the braceros: “Well, because the doctors examined an average of three thousand people a day. Imagine! If a doctor doesn’t have the patience to examine a patient when he has already examined four, five, six, or ten during the day, [imagine] how it is when he has examined thousands! Of course this doctor is already sick of it. He’s already overloaded with the work and [so] he’s going to do it reluctantly, without paying much attention. So when you pass the physical examination—in the hands of the doctor—they do the same process to you that they did in Monterrey—they do it again. They take off all of your clothes, they bathe you with disinfectants—with powders and a series of things that make me sad to even mention” (Loza, 2005). This shows how braceros were the backbone of the U.S.- thousands were needed for the agricultural sector. However, just because they were elementary didn’t mean that they were treated well. The view of a bracero as a component rather than an individual reflects back to Ngai’s point on the isolation and segregation of braceros. In Loza’s interview, this isolation also comes into play within the braceros themselves: “The more workers who worked together, the more they [the ranchers] felt prohibited from treating them [the braceros] badly or treating them . . . or working them at inappropriate schedules [times of day] or six days a week; because among—let’s say, among ten braceros it’s logical that all ten braceros won’t have the same intentions or the same ambitions or the same availability to dedicate themselves to work. So that’s why the smaller the number of braceros the ranchers had, the easier it was for them to direct them at their whim” (Loza, 2005).
What these two primary sources reveal about the Braceros system is this: the system was one that was not designed to benefit the Mexican worker, even though that’s how it was marketed to people like Juan Loza. Loza claims that he was convinced to become a Bracero by his godfather, who had been one himself, and that he was under the impression that he would be able to make enough money to support his family back home. Instead he found himself subject to a system that took advantage of it’s labor force, often being made to work “24 hours a day, 7 days a week” for less than a dollar (Loza).
Similarly, this system also used the United States legal system against the Braceros. In a chapter from Mae Ngai’s book Impossible Subjects the author discusses a man named Clemente Martinez. Martinez, an American citizen of Mexican descent, was born in the U.S. and lived there until he was roughly 10 years old, when his family moved back to Mexico. During World War Two he lied about his citizenship status to avoid being drafted. Instead he worked as a part of the Bracero system. However, later, in the 1950s, he was deported to Mexico, despite his status as an American citizen. According to Ngai, “a federal court rejected Martinez’s claim that he could not be deported” regardless of his claim of American citizenship (Ngai). The courts used his participation in the Bracero system against him, showing how little the legal system cared about the workers that were being exploited.
These primary sources accompanied by the reading from Ngai have provided great and tragic insight into the lives/experiences of the Braceros. Starting with accounts from Juan Loza, in his interview he speaks on his time as a Bracero and the torment he was put through. He recalls “I made 55 cents an hour, but I worked 24 hours, 7 days a week”(Loza, 2005). While this speaks volumes on just how little they were compensated for there back breaking work, it completely falls in line with Ngais accounts in his article. With in it Ngai reveals there was an “established minimum (30 cents an hour during the war and 50 cents throughout most of the 1950’s)”(Ngai, pg.140). These were not the only hardships faced within the Bracero program however as Loza in his interview recalled a time in which he tried to buy a coffee from a shop but was denied and promised physical harm because of his ethnicity. True to form his recount of that incident plays into Ngais analysis of the Bracero program and its harsh treatment of Mexicans. In Ngais article he speaks on the racial and human deprecation suffered under the Bracero program. “But as a bracero, I am only a number on a paycheck …… and I am treated like a number ……. not a man”(Ngai, pg.146). Most if not all Braceros were treated as agricultural tools and nothing less and most were provided with the bare necessities and that was it. Through Ngai’s article and the personal accounts/testimony of Juan Loza I was provided a first hand account of the morbid side of the U.S. and its agricultural world. It has provided me with a unique and innate respect for those who openly chose to join the Bracero program knowing what lied ahead of them. The fantastic promises of respect, money and freedom were merely a shiny gloss coated over the enormous pile of shit that was the Bracero program.
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.
Avis Mysyk, “Land, Labor, and Indigenous Response: Huaquechula (Mexico), 1521–1633,” Colonial Latin American Review 24, no. 3 (September 2015): 336–55, https://doi.org/10.1080/10609164.2015.1086595.
Mysyk focuses on the use of the encomienda system in the town of Huaquechula in Mexico. This article discusses the attempts of the native population to fend off the colonizing Spanish forces, and how they were, overall, relatively successful. This article will be useful for my essay because it gives me an example about how native peoples have been fighting back against the oppressive force that is white European/Anglo-Saxon rule since the two racial groups made first contact.
István Szászdi, “The ‘Protector de Indios’ in Early Modern Age America: EBSCOhost,” accessed February 24, 2020, http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=7&sid=39e9ea19-ce81-44c3-870b-910995f4e2b0%40pdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=139447439&db=a9h.
In this article Szászdi discusses the Protectores system set in place by the Spanish King Phillip II in 1589. This system was designed to protect the rights and privileges of the native population and ensure that they were treated fairly. It was fairly efficient and ended up making a positive impact on a damaged people. This source is interesting for me, as it provides almost a counter-argument for my essay, allowing me to discuss how the encomienda system was, at least initially, designed to be a force for good for everyone.
Medland, William J. 1990. “The Cuban Missile Crisis: Evolving Historical Perspectives.” The History Teacher 23 (4): 433-47.
Medland, Professor of American History at Saint Mary’s College of Minnesota, reviews three works on the Cuban Missile Crisis in his article. The article includes mainly four aspects related to the crisis, including the 1) the basis for Soviet emplacement of missiles in Cuba, 2) the response of the United States to the missiles in Cuba, 3) the leadership of President John F. Kennedy during the crisis, and 4) the consequences or results in the aftermath of the nuclear confrontation. The article sheds light on my research question by providing background information on the development of the crisis and the difficulties Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the United States faced when they were dealing with the brink of nuclear disaster.
Sanghro, Rafi R., Jalil A. Chandio, Siraj A. Soomro, and Javed A. Mahar. 2018. “How Did the Tripartite Relationship Among the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba Lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis and Complicate Efforts to Resolve the Crisis?” Journal of History Culture and Art Research 7 (3): 199-207.
This article is completed by two Assistant Professors and two P.h.D students from different colleges. It reveals the political leadership roles of Cuba, the United States, and the Soviet Union played to avoid the nuclear disaster. It focuses on the motives of the three countries’ involvement in the Cuban Missle Crisis based on their political situation at that time. Apart from the authors’ arguments, pictures and maps showing the geographical aspect of the crisis are also included in the article. The article sheds light on my research question by providing the interests and objectives of the three main countries involved in the crisis.
Kittleson, R. A. (2014). The country of football soccer and the making of modern Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press.
The country of football: soccer and the making of modern Brazil examines the cultural, racial and nationalist ties between soccer and Brazil. It starts first in the 1950’s explaining how Brazilian pride needed to be ignited and soccer was the way to do it. It looks into how the race of players in the game during the time was felt lacking in afro-brazilian representation. This need for representation and national pride is what helped to drive Brazilian soccer to great heights heading into the modern era. Allowing for great prosperity in Brazil and growing the countries notoriety as premier soccer fans, players, and culture.
Baumann, R., & Matheson, V. (2017). Mega-Events And Tourism: The Case Of Brazil. Contemporary Economic Policy, 36(2), 292–301. doi: 10.1111/coep.12270
In Mega-Events And Tourism: The Case Of Brazil, the article examines the economic growth generated in host countries of mega events like the FIFA World Cup. Specifically the article focuses on the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosted in Brazil, this is because this event generated far more tourists and revenue than previous mega events. The reason for this exponential growth was attributed the successful run of the Argentine national team. From this discovery this article explores how the on field success of teams plays largely into the significance in host countries returns. It also looks into how the location of the event and the teams winning might also play a part in these bursts of revenue increase.
Mae M. Ngai, “The Architecture of Race in American Immigration Law: A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of 1924,” The Journal of American History 86, no. 1 (June 1999): 67, https://doi.org/10.2307/2567407.
A Reexamination of the Immigration Act of dives into the structure of the immigration act itself, showing quota maxes for specific races during any immigration. This quota system was instilled to essentially reserve a sense of nationalism within the American people. Racial “quotas were to be allotted to countries in the same proportion that the American people traced their origins to those countries,” essentially forming a colonial mindset within the immigration process, maintaining a balance of “what is American.” This determined eligibility for citizenship leads to further racial biases and discrepancies, most highly against far Eastern nations, pushing notions of conformism in return for immigration.
“The Bridge: Critical Theory: Critical Race Theory,” accessed February 23, 2020, https://cyber.harvard.edu/bridge/CriticalTheory/critical4.htm.
This article breaks down some of the aspects of the critical race theory into the structurality, the critique, and intersectionality. The critical race theory is a held notion of communal principals which determine racial in-groups and out-groups. This categorization of people apart from others by descriptions and culture is defined as people “being race-d,” rather than the constructions we reside within. This article offers more solid insight into the theory behind this, as well as explains how it can be applied to other aspects of life such as variance in gender or sexual identities within different races. By further understanding the structurality of this ideology, I can offer the “reasoning” behind many conformist notions within immigration methods.