Article from Mexican Labor News & Analysis
Published by UE International.

Date published: March 2016

Web version:


A judge has ordered the Mexican government to pay almost six billion pesos or US$340 million to 4,678,000 braceros who signed contracts to work in the United States between 1942 and 1964. The Mexican government set money set aside as an involuntary savings fund for braceros based on ten percent of their wages. Then the money disappeared for fifty years. The judge has ordered that the workers be paid the money owed them plus interest.

A group of bracero activists has been fighting for this money owed them for decades. In 2012, former President Felipe Calderón had arranged to each bracero 38,000 pesos or about $2,171, a sum that the judge said showed “a lack of respect for the braceros.”

The bracero program, begun because of a labor shortage in the United States during World War II, was established by mutual agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments. The program brought 4.7 million Mexican laborers, overwhelmingly men, to work mostly on farms but also in construction, in industry, and on the railroads in the United States.

The court has ordered the Mexican government to work with the U.S. government to establish a list of all of those who were contracted so that the money can be paid either to the braceros or to to their beneficiaries. Since most of the men and the few women involved were in their 20s, 30s, or 40s in the 1940s, it can be assumed that many would be dead by now.

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