"The invasion of private property is impermissible...we will always uphold the law and we are going to be very vigilant so that the fundamental principle of private property is not violated."
Not this time.
The principled defense of private property above was uttered by none other than—Vicente Fox, Presidente of Mexico!
Yes, that's right. The same Vicente Fox who calls Mexican illegal aliens in the United States "heroes." The same Vicente Fox who has condemned Arizona ranchers for defending their ranches. The same Vicente Fox who hasn't even done much to defend property rights here in Mexico.
Why did Fox become so adamant in the defense of private property?
Because this time it was his own private property being violated!
Which of course is an entirely different matter.
On February 8th, 2004, Vicente Fox got a taste of his own medicine. This time it wasn't the distant property of gringo ranchers being invaded, nor even of ordinary Mexicans (that happens a lot too). It was the Fox family ranch.
The Fox property is located in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. (Just out of curiosity, I once attempted, unsuccessfully, to enter that ranch.) Some 2500 protestors of the Alianza Braceroproa illegally and forcibly entered the ranch, surprising the security detail and causing the president's poor mother to faint. A day later, the media reported that Fox was still visibly disturbed over the incident.
Any landowner could sympathize with the Fox family—except for his hypocrisy.
Who are these eponymous "braceros" (literally "strong arms," equivalent to "hands" as in "hired hands" in English). What is their cause?
The Bracero program was a guest labor scheme in which 1-2 million Mexican laborers worked temporarily in the United States. It was jointly operated by the U.S. and Mexican government and lasted from 1942 to 1964.
When the program was first negotiated, one of the Mexican demands was that braceros laboring in the U.S not be subject to racial discrimination, i.e., that they be treated like whites and not like blacks.
Anyway, the braceros working during the 1940s had what was potentially the sweetest deal. These laborers had 10% of their wages put into a special pension fund. That fund was to collect interest for decades until they were ready to collect. After several decades, it would have been a sizeable sum of money. By now, it would be a fortune.
It's 2004. Those men who were braceros in the 1940s are getting along in years now but they still haven't received that money!
Where is it? Now, 60 years later, nobody knows.
Yes, the braceros definitely do have a valid grievance.
It reminds me of a Bible verse:
"Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered in the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth." James 5:4
In this case of defrauded laborers, who is to blame? There are several possible culprits, since the money passed through several hands. In the United States, the transactions were handled by Wells Fargo. If Wells Fargo is to blame, it should certainly pay up. After all, Wells Fargo makes plenty of money nowadays off illegal aliens utilizing their matricula consular cards.
In Mexico, the pension fund was managed by government banks, some of which no longer exist!
How convenient for them. I guess they can't pay back any money. [Mexican Government Harvested Laborers' Savings while Working in U.S., By Stephen Wall, Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, Mar. 15, 2004]
Now why do I have the sneaking suspicion that eventually, one way or another, it's the U.S. taxpayer who's going to foot the bill for the Bracero program?
Because things are already moving in that direction.
Since 2000, a class action lawsuit, brought on behalf of 100,000 former braceros, has been pending in federal court in San Francisco. Originally the suit was filed against all the possible culprits: the U.S. and Mexican governments, Mexican banks and Wells Fargo.
But in 2002, the court dropped the suits against all the parties involved—except the U.S. government.
In other words, Wells Fargo, the Mexican government, and Mexican banks are off the hook. Only the U.S. government is still being sued. The extraordinary rationale: the U.S. government was the trustee and "violated its fiduciary responsibility to safeguard savings." Funny how that worked out. [Procesan demanda de ex braceros contra EU, Feb. 12th, 2004, El Universal]
It would be good if justice were served after all these years, and whoever lost the money had to repay it. Somehow though I doubt that will happen.
I believe that whichever institution lost the money is responsible to pay it back. But frankly, my suspicion is the money vanished decades ago, disappearing into some black hole in the Mexican government financial complex. Of course it was put to use somehow. Maybe it was used to purchase country homes for Mexican officials, or something of that nature. But the braceros, the men who actually earned it, didn't receive it.
And whoever lost the money, it's likely that the U.S. taxpayer will repay it.
It would be prudent to remember the Bracero experience as we are being pressured to embark upon a new guest worker program.
American citizen Allan Wall lives and works legally in Mexico, where he holds an FM-2 residency and work permit, but serves six weeks a year with the Texas Army National Guard, in a unit composed almost entirely of Americans of Mexican ancestry. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here; his website is here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.