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Braceros Will Get $3,500

An advocate for the former guest workers in the U.S. calls Mexico's offer an insult.

October 28, 2005|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — After decades of waiting and years of protests, former bracero guest workers who labored in the United States between 1942 and 1964 will get a one-time payment of about $3,500, the government said Thursday.

"This is very little. It's insulting that they are offering so little," said Rafael Garcia, a member of Braceroproa, a group that has pressed the workers' demands. "We have always said the payment should be [$9,175], and not one peso less."

Activists have campaigned for years on behalf of the aging former workers.

The compensation movement was originally designed for migrants who participated in the program between 1942 and 1949.

About 10% of that group's paychecks were withheld for savings and pension funds that were supposed to be paid in Mexico, as an incentive for migrants to return home.

The money disappeared, and a government investigation found no trace of it.

The compensation fund was subsequently expanded to include everyone who worked under the program.

Mexico's Congress this year approved a $27-million fund to partially compensate the braceros; although the move was viewed as a step forward, activists complained that the rules governing the fund would block payments to many who should receive them.

On Thursday, the Interior Ministry announced the ground rules and amount of the payments.

Offices will be set up in many of Mexico's 31 states to process claims.

Each former worker will have up to four months to claim his or her payment by submitting pay stubs, work visas, labor contracts or other documents.

Surviving spouses or children can collect the payment for former workers who have died, by presenting the same documents.

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