The theft continues

Millions of Mexicans who participated in the bracero program do not have much time to wait

Mexico owes a big debt to millions of Mexicans who came to the U.S. to work decades ago and never received a payment that got to their country, but not to them. That pending debt is still not settled now, despite new promises and the funds earmarked for this purpose.

Last week, several senators complained that the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit is withholding almost $12 million out of a total of $300 million approved as compensation. Estimates show that only about 194,000 people received money, while the total number of people that money is owed to is between 3.5 and 4 million.

This is a shameful situation, because for years there has been talk of doing justice after the brazen theft of money that Wells Fargo gave the Banco de Crédito Agrícola-10% of the wages of every laborer who came to work in the U.S.-between 1942 and 1964 to be given out to the workers upon their return. They never received it at that time and successive Mexican governments did not investigate the huge fraud committed with these funds.

Still today, there are excuses not to pay even $3,000 per person, a number arbitrarily set in 2005 during the administration of former President Fox. That year, President Calderón gave payments to a group of laborers in an official ceremony, but the promise of a “national crusade” to settle this debt is very far from being fulfilled.

The senators have complained about the bureaucracy’s lack of organization and the journey they force elderly beneficiaries to make between the bank and the Secretariat of Governance.

Millions of Mexicans who participated in the bracero program do not have much time to wait for the money they earned with the sweat of their brows in our country to be paid out to them. As time goes by, their numbers dwindle.

That is why this is urgent and doing it should be a priority. Otherwise, a theft that began 50 years ago will be perpetuated today and the generations of accomplices of this crime will continue growing.