Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Los Braceros heritage recognized by Monterey County

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. – A diplomatic agreement between Mexico and the United States has changed generations of agricultural workers entering Monterey County.

Thousands of agricultural workers traveled waiting for an opportunity to improve their quality of life. For 20 years, young Mexicans entered the country through a special work permit, the Bracero Program. However, this lifestyle is full of tragedies and work that goes unnoticed.

Many men lost their lives under harsh working conditions. According to the Library of Congress, historians say these men were robbed of their retirement savings, exposed to chemicals, and cheap that job.

The California Federation of Labor reports accidents involving trucks carrying braceros, resulting in several deaths.

“Between 1952 and 1963, there were a total of 1,205 recorded agricultural transport accidents, or more than 1 every 3.5 days, on average; 2,973 agricultural workers were injured, so badly in these accidents that they lost a day’s work; another 159 died,” (Excerpt from Historical Report by Gary Karnes, September 6, 2013).

In 1963, an accident outside of Salinas, on the Chalar highway, an accident of intercession, railway with a bus, took the lives of 31 Braceros and 22 were injured. It remains in Monterey County’s history, raising questions of security and prioritizing the well-being of these immigrants.

The Bracero Program ended on December 31, 1964, when the railroad industry became widespread. Ultimately, the program led to an influx of undocumented and documented workers, 22 years of cheap labor from Mexico, and remittances to Mexico by Braceros.

Monterey County recognizes the sacrifice of these workers during Bracero History Recognition Week. From September 10th to the 16th, families, descendants, and survivors are honored for their experiences and resilience during that time.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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