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Bracero heritage

Ask a Mexican



Dear Mexican: I was wondering if you can help me. I'm trying to put my family tree together. My family is from San Julian, Jalisco. Both of my grandparents were part of the bracero program. What is the agency or institution that holds the list of names of Mexicans who were part of that program? I would greatly appreciate it.

— Jalisco No Se Raja

Dear Jalisco Never Backs Down: Your abuelitos were braceros? One of mine was, too, along with a chingo of uncles, one of whom ended up picking beets in Michigan — fun! And just to remind the gabas who braceros were: They were the original guest-workers between the United States and Mexico, thanks to a program set up during World War II so that our fighting men could go kill commie Nazis. Originally an executive order signed by FDR, the bracero program continued until the mid-1960s. And while the pendejo GOP presidential field sometimes wishes it would return, someone should remind them the program ended because of exploitative conditions and the fact that both the American and Mexican governments shorted braceros on their salaries by withholding 10 percent of their wages, over which elderly braceros and their descendants were still battling both governments as recently as last year. On the Mexican side, the Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB, as acronym-obsessed Mexico calls it) has a registry of ex-braceros; on the American side, try the excellent online Bracero History Archive hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Good luck, and don't think your great-grandpa was special because he fought with Pancho Villa; EVERY Mexican's bisabuelo says that!

Dear Mexican: Yesterday, in a parking lot, I was opening my car door to get out, and a lovely Mexican lady next to me was at the same time opening her door to put her young child in her car. We both quickly pulled our doors in to avoid hitting each other, but then she quickly reopened her door and took a very long time to put her child in the car, thus making me wait when it would have taken me only a second to get out, and then she could have proceeded. I didn't understand why she did this, especially when I'm older than she and seemingly should have been granted the right-of-way. I've always been under the impression that in the Mexican culture, the senior woman would be given courteous regard.

— Leisure World Lady

Dear Gabacha: Yes, we respect our elders — but we respect a woman with a child more, and so should you. Plus, you're a gabacha — and gabachos are EVIL. Lucky she didn't steal your country while you were waiting — oh, wait . . .

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