Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)

Immigration/Refugee Crisis. A Sign of the times in our World
Image Modern Farmer
The world refugee crisis (immigration) is today a very hot topic of conversation. It's unfortunate that various political ideologies take varying stances on the issue purely to get an edge against another political ideology they have a murderous hatred for. In today's heated ideologue climate you generally have one political side who claims to champion the cause of being the voice for immigrants, while the other claims to voice the cause for it's natural citizens (USA & E.U.). Both sides fail miserably. The true motive is acquiring power over the other side's ideology whom they promote hateful animus towards. In the who has the higher moral ground derby, no matter which side wins, the immigrants will still lose. But suddenly everywhere now it seems stylishly fashionable to champion the side of immigrants which you can see here on the right with "Modern Farmer's" editor-in-chief, Sarah Gray Miller, and her "Immigrants Feed America" T-Shirt. It's shame that this immigration issue has to be a political one. I've never ever once been involved in any country's politics. I could care less for the cause of either side's obsession for worldview dominance. But I do like most immigrants I've ever met. After all, I now live in a foreign country as an immigrant. But this immigration subject has the same generalized fuzzy a definition as I gave yesterday when writing about the words "Science" or "Scientist." Most people have a comfort zone when generalizing a subject which unfortunately renders the words/terms meaningless. Take the Modern Farmer T-Shirt slogan, "Immigrants Feed America." Really, do ALL immigrants feed America by working and laboring in hot fields all day to make a living ? Of course not. This work is mainly done by hispanic immigrants coming into the United States from the southern border. Perhaps it should have read, "Some Immigrants Feed America the United States." See how even the word "America" can be generalized here. Does not America also include Canada, Mexico & the smaller Central American counties ? Also take special note that I'm will be using the term hispanics because all Spanish speaking immigrants are not all Mexican. That's another issue with most folks when viewing the subject of illegal immigration crossing the Mexican border. In most US citizen's mindset, they're all Mexican. See how even this subject can be generalized ? Many come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and other places in South America. And of course now days immigrants come from every corner of the globe. But let me for the moment just focus here on the hispanc immigrants as referenced by the Modern Farmer T-Shirt. 

Image -

The country of Sweden where I now reside is not all that much different from the United States or any other country when it comes to how immigrants are treated or viewed. Sure, there are certainly several groups and political ideologies who attempt to champion a voice for immigrants, but quite often they have personal ambitious motives for doing so. Like the USA, most citizens here in Sweden or elsewhere in the E.U. won't do any of the blue collar labor jobs (janitorial, landscaping, field worker, construction laborer, etc) that hungry immigrants will do. Like the USA, the citizens here view such jobs as beneath them. They demand free college tuition and high paying IT jobs (or any white collar job) once they graduate. Take this photo above of African immigrants from Cameroon and Nigeria working planting timber seedlings in hot humid back breaking work conditions where you are constantly under attack by Arctic Circle Mosquito hordes. Swedes will not subject themselves to this type work or it's low pay. Same with berry picking. Swedes have a passion for their beloved indigenous Lingonberry, but Swedes won't do this type of work. Worker migrants from Thailand have been employed to do this type of hard labor after being tricked by fliers advertising making easy money in a short time and with a return trip home. Once here, they are not paid what they were promised or paid at all and no return trip ticket available. They are stuck in a foreign land. Rather than elaborate on this any further, you may read what I previously wrote about both of these real life circumstances in the post below in 2013:
The United States of Sweden
Here's a bit of an update for any who may feel I've exaggerated the negative Swedish "Blue Collar" work ethic mindset towards jobs considered beneath their dignity. This comes from the online Swedish News on English journal, 'The' >>>>
Sweden needs immigrants to solve labour shortage: employment agency 
Now Let's Focus on the Hispanic migrant workers
Hispanics in the United States are often subject to exploitation. Believe it or not, often by many of their own countrymen, but little is ever discussed about this. Here in Sweden, there are unscrupulous legal immigrants from Africa and Asia who become entrepreneurial businessmen. They often prey upon the desires of their poorer countrymen back home looking for a better life. Once they get them here (often illegally), they exploit them with pitifully low wages or sometimes cheating them altogether by not paying the promised agreed upon wage. But unfortunately, who can an illegal immigrant run to and complain ? The authorities ? Not likely since they are affraid of being sent back to their homeland. Sound familiar ? And yet I'm describing the conditions within Sweden and the rest of the European Union. Count on things getting worse. This same scenario plays out in the USA with hispanic workers.

Anyone remember the movie classic from 1940, "The Grapes of Wrath" starring Henry Fonda as Tom Jode ? The last time I watched this film it had a whole different meaning to me. The majority of younger generations of Anglos Gringos and the rest of native born peoples of various ethnic backgrounds in the USA, have no clue as to what life was like back in the 1930s for rural working class American families. This film's storyline provides a close enough picture of what life is like for many illegal immigrant hispanics. But once again we cannot generalize hispanics because not all of them work in agricultural fields. Many work at janitorial, gardening and landscaping, or factory type jobs. At one time there was a rather successful guest worker program called the, "Bracero Program," which ran from about 1951 to 1964. Take note of the description as given by Wikipedia:
"The Bracero Program (named for the Spanish term bracero, meaning "manual laborer" or "one who works using his arms") was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated on August 4, 1942, when the United States signed the Mexican Farm Labor Agreement with Mexico. The agreement guaranteed basic human rights (sanitation, adequate shelter and food) and a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour; it also enabled the importation of temporary contract laborers from Guam to the United States as a momentary war-related clause to supply workers during the early phases of World War II. The agreement was extended with the Migrant Labor Agreement of 1951, which with the PL 78, set the official parameters for the Bracero Program until its termination in 1964."
( - Bracero Program)
When I lived up in Anza California during the 1980s-90s, a friend of mine who grew up in Hemet California on a large Apricot Farm said that his father used this very program to hire good quality talented laborers from Mexico. Of course they made money on a piece work basis per flat of apricots picked and the fast skilled workers made good money at the time. But with the 1960s, the civil rights movement was in full blown protest mode. Labor Unions and Churches were against the Bracero Program claiming that it took jobs away from the unemployed American citizens. The program ended in 1964. At that time my friend said the government created another program to employ out of work Americans from poorer districts of places like the city of Los Angeles who were then bussed out to work in Hemet Valley apricot orchards. They were given the same pay comission per flat as the well skilled Mexican pickers from the previous decade's guest worker program. It was a complete failure. Not only did these formerly unemployed Americans lack the skill to perform this work, but they hated it. As a consequence of being forced to do something they disliked, there was the problem of cheating where boxes of apricots stacked onto the flatbed trucks were packed with rocks and dirt clods on the bottom of the flat with apricots on the top layers. Ironically, this utter failure of this new program to replace the guest worker program is what eventually led to the flooding in of the illegal migrant worker crisis. The ethnicity or race of the natural born citizen is irrelevant when it comes to not liking this type of employment. I don't care if a person is purple, with green stripes and pink poka dots, if you are born in an industrial nation with silver spoon in your mouth welfare entitlements, more than likely you will not have a work ethic for most types of physical labor. Many will call this unskilled labor, but trust me that this is not really the case. For 20+ years I worked in Imperial Valley once or twice a week. Across the street from one of my auto dealer accounts, El Centro Motors (Ford Dealership), there was Alford Liquor store on the corner. Every Friday evening field workers would come in and cash their pay cheques there. In the older days most people did everything by cash, they didn't trust banks. One husband and wife picking team that I knew from the Winter and Spring months made around $800 per week between them. Back in the 1980s, that was good money. They were both very skilled and professional at what they did. As seasons changed of course they traveled north where newer crops came to harvest. But they were hard working good people and actually enjoyed what they did. 

Photgraph - Leonard Nadel (1956)

 Central Valley farmworkers forced to stand 
naked in line to be sprayed with pure DDT.
 The photographer was later arrested in Mexico
 for documenting "bracero" recruitment

There is no comparison to the Imperial Valley hispanics and those of Los Angeles. Both are hispanic, but radically different cultures. This is where one cannot generalize when speaking about most  immigrants. But writing this made me think of that Bracero Program again when both Labor Unions and Churches wanting the guest worker program gone and all workers deported back to Mexico. I was a bit surprised though by the negative reaction of the churches to push for an ending to the Bracero Program. Both Catholic and Protestant. I'm certainly not surprised by the lack of concern on the part of industrial Agro-Chemical companies on the negative effects of their science-based synthetics. This gave rise later to activists like Cesar Chavez, his hunger strikes and call for boycott of US grapes because of dangerous pesticides used in these fields which exposed the field workers to potential negative health consequences. 

These consequences were real. At Clemente Jaime's Auto repair shop in El Centro California, just behind El Centro Motors, many hispanic friends of Clemente and his sons Frank and Joe Jaime would come after work and drink beer, eat food and just generally socialize. One such day a Mexican field worker related a story of a pesticide incident on the outskirts of Brawley to the north. As the account unfolded, apparently one fellow worker was a bit hungry while picking iceberg head lettuce and ate a single leaf of the iceberg lettuce. No one knew that it had been recently been sprayed (I have no idea the chemical used) for pests. But after a while the guy felt sick, then went into a sort of epileptic fit. The worker described his behaviour as when you spray raid on a cockroach and it flips upside down on it's back with it's legs jerking and twitching. Everyone listening to this guy relate the story was spooked. The danger has always been real. So I guess that Cesar Chavez guy wasn't so crazy after all. Modern day incidents from many Industrial Ag ventures overseas like in South America's Brazil and Argentina bear out the reality of these ongoing science-based consequences of following the conventional way Scientists say only with pesticides can we feed the world. Don't buy into that. 

But again, all of this has made me think again not only of the John Steinbeck film, Grapes of Wrath, but also of the folk singer Woody Guthrie who wrote songs about the hardships of depression era refugee's lives. Woody Guthrie also wrote a poem "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)", which was set to music by Martin Hoffman, commemorated the deaths of 28 braceros being repatriated back to Mexico in January 1948. The song has been recorded by dozens of folk artists. Below I've provided a Youtube version of a Live Record (1975) of Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger performing "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" by Arlo's father Woody Guthrie who died not long after the Bracero Program ended. Sure has  a lot of meaning today of how opinions on migrants hasn't changed very much. No matter what country.

'Deportee' Lyrics
The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning, The oranges piled in their creosote dumps; They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border To pay all their money to wade back again   
Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita, Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria; You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane, All they will call you will be "deportees"   
My father's own father, he waded that river, They took all the money he made in his life; My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees, And they rode the truck till they took down and died.   
Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted, Our work contract's out and we have to move on; Six hundred miles to that Mexican border, They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.   
We died in your hills, we died in your deserts, We died in your valleys and died on your plains. We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes, Both sides of the river, we died just the same.   
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon, A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills, Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?  The radio says, "They are just deportees"   
Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?  Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?  To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil And be called by no name except "deportees"?
Other references about Refugees, Immigrants, the jobs they do and our attitude towards treatment of them
I loved this film below because it was so realistic and accurate. Very well done and shows how often hopeless life can be for immigrants (legal or illegal) in places like Los Angeles. This film is called, "A Better Life" which was released in June 2011. Immigrants come to industrialized nations believing the grass is greener so to speak. But often reality is a terrible lesson. The public relations schpeel pushed on modern people today often equaltes materialism with happiness. For most immigrants, the reality is the exact opposite. Many hispanics come from close families that they leave behind. This story is beautifully illustrative of that life. It'll tug at your heart strings and make you cry. This is what some call the "American Dream," which is often held up as an ideal by which equality of opportunity is available for anyone. It is said that anyone can achieve their highest aspirations and goals of buying a house, car, business, etc. Mostly it's always been only dream to the majority. Even when people have an appearance of success, often a great amount of debt is attached. Still the movie here is a reminder of how many are taken in by the promised advertisement.

Here below is another post of mine. The post deals with subject of Mexican ingenuity by a people who are generally faced with having to depend on themselves with impossible odds stacked against them (corrupt government officials, business leaders, clergy, etc). For 20+ years I learned a lot by working side by side with many hispanics. I marveled at their MacGyver-like abilities of resourcefulness. Always seeming to be able to solve complicated problems by making or fixing things out of ordinary every day materials. Many of them are like living human Swiss Army knife with multiple talents. Put several heads together and they are almost genius.
Mexican Ingenuity: If Anyone Can a Mexi-Can !
Later in life this helped me to take on jobs I normally would never have gravitated towards. What makes it easier is being able to find a sense of purpose and pleasure through creativity of accomplishing the task I would have otherwise rejected. Many hispanic workers are very talented at their jobs. I suppose one other area in which I relate to them is they don't have the material possession achievements many strive for, but they are still happy. I never really gravitated towards acquiring a whole lot of material possessions mainly because I always hated debt. Still do. I hate shopping. But below here is a take from Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe who talks about the falacy of the expression, "Follow Your Passion." Almost as bad as 'follow your heart' which basically has the same meaning.

Discovery Channel's Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs is a far better spokesman  for working class peoples, irrespective of cultural background

Anyone remember this poster on the right here ? This was always meant as an intellectual put down on blue collar jobs. This irresponsible worldview has had an infectious effect that you can find within every industrialized developed nation on the planet. This poster's platitude was what I dealt with in the early 1970s with my own high school guidance counselors. I remember growing up as a kid in the 60s and every adult asking you, "What do you want to be when you grow up ?" My response back then was I wanted to be an engineer. They thought that was cool and explained to me that I would have to be very good at math. I hated math and asked why would I need t know a lot of math to run a train. Then horror and shock set in the adults who attempted to dissuade me out of such a notion because, "You don't want that kind of Job." The only one who understood me was the El Cajon Valley High School counselor and Vice-Principal Ben Amador. I wasn't exactly keen on going on to college. I loved agriculture, ornamental horticulture, forestry, etc, but I hated the conventional science-based direction things were taught back then (Still Are). He told me what he did was to go down to Imperial Valley where he made good money picking lettuce and then later decided what he wanted to do. My parents freaked at the idea. You can imagine. Like Mike Rowe says, many people are fully qualified, they just aren't credentialed. That's what I am, over qualified and not at all credentialed and I love it that way. In the landscape & habitat restoration field I have been involved with, I truly know far more than what universities are spitting out as the new age prime candidates to care for our planet. Now, almost everything I touch when it comes to plants and landscape turns into success, not because of me personally, but because of what I know about whole plant ecosystems that I basically taught myself. That almost never get's taught at school where University Professors are shackled & committed to the Industrial version of Science. Here's another look at Mike Rowe and College if you have the time.

My main post is above and concluded. This below is merely a supplimentary info of interest for those curious
On another interesting note, ABC News interviewed some hispanics from the Los Angeles area about how the feel about the new American President. If anyone has followed this craziest of US Presidential Elections, you understand that the media did not get their approved candidate and are very unhappy. So perhaps wanting to continue shaking things up and get a sampling of outrage and negative reactions, an 81 year old man named, Rudolph Anparano, replied in a neutral way which is probably not they were expecting. I copied it down here:
ABC NEWS - "Hispanic Community in Los Angeles Reacts to President-Elect Donald Trump"
Finally, here's another area of supplimentary information on this post's immigration/refugee subject if you have the time to read. It's an article on how people should treat peoples of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, cultures, etc. It is an article I read from the October Watchtower magazine two weeks called:
"Do Not Forget the Kindness to Stranger"

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