Avila Camacho, Manuel (1897-1955)

457px-Manuel_Ávila_Camacho,_portrait

Avila was a “soldier and moderate statesman whose presidency (1940–46) saw a consolidation of the social reforms of the Mexican Revolution and the beginning of an unprecedented period of friendship with the United States.”

The EB‘s article concludes with the following: “His administration was noted primarily, however, for the new relationship it established with Mexico’s neighbour to the north, the United States. The long-standing dispute over the expropriated U.S. oil properties was settled; Mexico supplied needed agricultural labour and raw materials for the Allied war effort, and it declared war on the Axis powers in 1942, even sending a squadron of pilots to serve in the Pacific.”

It seems that Mexicans were first used in American agriculture because of an agreement between Presidents Avila and Roosevelt.   According to Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1HmBhLv),

The bracero program (named for the Spanish term bracero, meaning “manual laborer” [lit. “one who works using his arms”]) was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements, initiated by an August 1942 exchange of diplomatic notes between the United States and Mexico, for the importation of temporary contract laborers from Mexico to the United States. At the start of the program, train loads of Mexicans immigrants ready to work were sent over during the heart of WWII for the ’emergency wartime agricultural and railroad importations.’ Shortages of food and other goods throughout the U.S caused chaos throughout the nation, leading to the bracero program as a solution.

I find it interesting that many of our immigration problems have their origin in the exigencies of World War II.  Would there be a shortage of food today if the U.S. stopped using Mexican farm workers?  If not, as I suspect, do we really need them?

I also thought it was interesting that Mexico stole some of our oil properties.  Textbooks condemn the United States for “stealing”  the Southwest and California from Mexico, even though some of this land was actually purchased.  The fact that Mexico expropriated our oil properties makes me wonder just how Mexico’s record of theft compares with that of the United States.

For me, a good rule of thumb regarding historical narratives is this: If one side is always a demon and the other side is always an angel, the person telling the story is more a propagandist than a historian.

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1HmDTJx

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