Oral History: ‘I came to the U.S.A. in 1962 as a bracero’ (videos)

When labor was short in 1950s and 60s, the American and Mexican governments worked together to import laborers across the border to work as “braceros.”

The American Friends service Committee explains:

The Bracero Program was a partnership between the United States and Mexico to fill the labor pool that was decimated by men’s entry into World War II. The term “bracero” refers to the laborers that the US government sought: strong-armed, hard-working.

Sotero Cervantes was one such person whose relationship to the United States began with the Bracero program in 1962 and who has since his arrival, planted a variety of seeds — materially and figuratively — that have yielded fruitful harvest.

FYI: That’s guaje that Cervantes eats at the end of the clip.


Don’t worry, gringos, Mexican nationals won’t steal your job since all these “nationals” do is “stoop labor.” Also, explains the friendly Mexican Consul, they are “braceros” and not “wetbacks.”

The 19-minute film Why Braceros? was produced around 1959 on behalf of the Council of California Growers.

The Journal of Murketing explains:

It aims to tell viewers about “the benefits of the bracero program,” The Field Guide to Sponsored Films explains, “originally initiated by the United States in 1942 to alleviate the World War II labor shortage.” This was a “guest worker” program that made it okay for Mexican labor to be brought in seasonally to work on cotton farms and other manual jobs (“stoop labor,” it’s called in the films).

Anyway, the film carefully explains that these are really bad jobs, so they’re hard to fill. The issues are familiar: Even in the pre-Lou Dobbs era, people were angry that these supposedly job-threatening outsiders are allowed. The message here is: Hey, it’s okay. It’s good for everybody. These workers are just a tiny fraction of the farm labor force. They spend some of their money in America. And the U.S. government is on top of the situation.

Continued @ The Journal of Murketing.