Hundreds retrieve Bracero benefits in Fresno

FRESNO, California

"We had different rallies, different marches and today we saw the results. We said we are going to win this struggle and we are here with a victory," said Leonel Flores, coordinator of the Union of Ex-Braceros and Immigrants in Fresno.

At issue was money the Mexican government deducted from the paychecks of Mexicans involved in the guest worker program that began during World War II - money farm workers are now just getting. "It has been recognized publicly by the government of Mexico that there was a lack of transparency in those days," said Reyna Torres Mendivil with the Mexican consulate.

The Mexican government is giving a little more than 3,000 dollars to each person who can prove they were Bracero workers. "I'm thankful," said Jesus Cristobal, a former Bracero worker. He brought his Bracero contract and green card to claim money he's been waiting for 10 years.

More than 300 of the Bracero workers waited inside the consulate, many with proof to show they were part of the program. But those without any documents are simply out of luck.

"Fifty years ago, I was Bracero. I lose my proofs," said Macario Maroquin. Maroquin is one of many people who came to the consulate without any documentation. He feels discriminated against because he doesn't have the paperwork proving he was a Bracero more than 50 years ago.

"Anyone could come up and say I was part of the program, but how do you prove that? I mean something would be necessary, some sort of paper or document or record to prove that," said Mendivil.

"The only thing left to do is fight because this is not fair," said Maroquin. But for those with documents, they are just happy to finally get paid.

The Mexican consulate says they take bracero contracts, old pay stubs, and green and social security cards as proof of documentation.

Bracero workers looking to retrieve benefits should contact the Mexican Consulate in Fresno.
(559) 233-3065
They must provide at least one of these items:
Bracero Contract
Check Stub
Green Card
Social Security Card

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