Here you will find additional information on the subject of each exhibition were are currently presenting and other exhibitions we have presented in the past. We hope it would be informative for you. We welcome suggestions and input from the community. Thank you!
"THE BRACERO" May 2nd to May 30th, 2014
at Willo North Gallery, 2811 N. 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ. For information of their shows visit www.willonorth.com
THE BRACERO PROGRAM
A BRIEF HISTORY (informational incepts from Wikipedia and Smithsonian web site)
The Bracero Program (named for the Spanish term bracero, meaning "manual laborer" [lit. "one who works using his arms"]) was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated by an August 1942 exchange of diplomatic notes between the United States and Mexico, for the importation of temporary contract laborers from Mexico to the United States. American president Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Mexican president Manuel Ávila Camacho in Monterrey, Mexico to discuss Mexico as part of the Allies in World War II and the Bracero Program. After the expiration of the initial agreement in 1947, the program was continued in agriculture under a variety of laws and administrative agreements until its formal end in 1964.
In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, more than 500,000 Mexican Americans were deported or pressured to leave, during the Mexican Repatriation. There were fewer Mexican Americans available when labor demand returned with World War II. The Bracero Program was initially prompted by a demand for manual labor during World War II and began with the U.S. government bringing in a few hundred experienced Mexican agricultural laborers to harvest sugar beets in the Stockton, California area. The program soon spread to cover most of the United States and provided workers for the agricultural labor market (with the notable exception being Texas, which initially opted out of the program in preference to an "open border" policy, and was denied braceros by the Mexican government until 1947 due to perceived mistreatment of Mexican laborers). As a corollary, the railroad bracero program was independently negotiated to supply U.S. railroads initially with unskilled workers for railroad track maintenance but eventually to cover other unskilled and skilled labor. By 1945, the quota for the agricultural program was more than 75,000 braceros working in the U.S. railroad system and 50,000 braceros working in U.S. agriculture at any one time.
The railroad program ended with the conclusion of World War II in 1945. At the behest of U.S. growers, who claimed ongoing labor shortages, the program was extended under a number of acts of congress until 1948. Between 1948 and 1951, the importation of Mexican agricultural laborers continued under negotiated administrative agreements between growers and the Mexican Government. On July 13, 1951, President Truman signed Public Law 78, a two-year program that embodied formalized protections for Mexican laborers. The program was renewed every two years until 1963 when, under heavy criticism, it was extended for a single year with the understanding it would not be renewed. After the formal end of the agricultural program in 1964, there were agreements covering a much smaller number of contracts until 1967, after which no more braceros were granted.
The program in agriculture was justified in the U.S. largely as an alternative to illegal immigration and was seen as a complement to efforts to deport undocumented immigrants such as Operation Wetback, under which 1,075,168 Mexicans were deported in 1954. Scholars who have closely studied Mexican migration in this period have questioned this interpretation, emphasizing instead the complementary nature of legal and illegal migration. Scholars of this school suggest that the decision to hire Mexicans through the Bracero Program or via extralegal contractors depended mostly on which seemed more suitable to needs of agribusiness employers, attributing the expansion of the Bracero Program in the late 1950s to the relaxation of enforcement of regulations on Bracero wages, housing, and food charges.
The workers who participated in the Bracero Program have generated significant local and international struggles challenging the U.S. government and Mexican government to identify and return 10 percent mandatory deductions taken from their pay, from 1942 to 1948, for savings accounts that they were legally guaranteed to receive upon their return to Mexico at the conclusion of their contracts. Many field working braceros never received their savings, but most railroad working braceros did. Lawsuits presented in federal courts in California, in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), highlighted the substandard conditions and documented the ultimate destiny of the savings accounts deductions, but the suit was thrown out because the Mexican banks in question never operated in the United States. Today, it is stipulated that ex-braceros can receive up to $3,500.00 as compensation for the 10% only by supplying check stubs or contracts proving they were part of the program during 1942 to 1948. It is estimated that, with interest accumulated, $500 million is owed to ex-braceros, who continue to fight to receive the money owed to them.