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Monday, December 5, 2011

Speaker in the Plaza Concordia

Monday p.m.
I mentioned that I was going to write about something we saw and learned while in Concordia. Another story about Mexico. While walking around the area we saw a group of older men and women listening to a speaker in the plaza. The speaker held sheets of white paper – a form of some kind – in his hand. He seemed to be trying to give them to his listeners. Of course we had to find out what was going on.
So Bill asked a couple of older gentlemen who were sitting on a white wrought iron bench on the sidewalk listening.
This is what we were told.
Many years ago in the US there was a program called the Bracero program – or guest worker. Mexicans were recruited to work on US farms under the terms of the program. They were legally allowed to come to the US to work the growing season. Then they returned to Mexico until the next year. One of the stipulations of the program was that 10% of their wages would be withheld by the farmers. It was then sent by the US banks to Mexican banks. At that time these forced savings often disappeared and the Mexican government said it had no record of what happened to the money.
Back to what was going on in the park. The man with the forms was with the government. He was explaining that anyone who had worked the Bracero program was entitled to the money sent to Mexico by the farmers. The present government decided to do the right thing and give it to them. When it was originally sent to Mexico there was documentation with it. Giving names of workers, places worked, dates worked etc. Now all the men had to do was fill out the form the government man would give them.
Most older Mexicans do not trust the government and do not want to fill out any forms with their names etc. on them. Also several of them said they could not read or write. Help was offered.
Again and again the government man told them that if they filled out the form their names would be verified and they would receive a check for around US$3,500. The government did not want any information about them except to verify that they should receive the money.
This day there didn’t appear to be too many takers. At least this government recognizes that the money is theirs and they deserve it. A few of the men Bill talked to did say they had received their money - but it was a hard sell to the doubting one.

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