by David Bacon
FRESNO, CA (8/4/02) — Indigenous people from Oaxaca have been migrating within Mexico, and to the US, for decades. Many were braceros during that program’s 22-year run from 1942 to 1964. In Mexican agricultural valleys from Sinaloa to Baja California, Oaxacan migrants are the backbone of the labor force which made corporate agriculture possible.
As a result, communities of Oaxacans have settled in a broad swath leading from their state of origin, through Veracruz, where they went first as the labor force in the sugar harvest, through northwest Mexico’s fields of tomatoes and strawberries, into the valleys of California’s San Joaquin and Oregon’s Wilamette Rivers, and to Washington state, Florida and beyond.