Long live the farmworkers!
My late father, Salomón Chavez Huerta, first arrived in this country as an agricultural guest worker in the mid-1900s, during the Bracero Program. The Bracero Program represented a guest worker program between the United States and Mexico. From 1942 to 1964, the Mexican government exported an estimated 4.6 million Mexicans to meet this country’s labor shortage not only in the agricultural fields during two major wars (WWII and Korean War), but also in the railroad and mining sectors.
Like many braceros of his generation from rural Mexico, my father didn’t speak too much about the horrible working / housing conditions he endured while toiling in el norte. This included low pay, overcrowded housing, terrible food, limited legal rights, lack of freedom outside of the labor camps, racism, verbal / physical abuse and price gauging from company landlords / stores.
Mas…Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D: The day my Mexican father met Cesar Chavez