A former nun disenchanted with her superiors pursues a path aimed at improving the lives of others less fortunate. In part, that break with a strong tradition arises from a faith that liberation theology may provide answers that tradition may not. Rosa Martha Zarate Macias tells of finding a place in the farmworkers’ labor movement once led by Cesar Chavez. A singer-songwriter, Zarate Macias would find herself on makeshift stages as the union movement organized lettuce and grape pickers. For the past decade, Zarate Macias has focused most of efforts as an advocate for the remaining, living members of the bracero generation (1942-1964). see the clip from the Movie, El Bracero del Ano with Piporro and the vignette, Manda Marries the Wetback, elsewhere in this edition of IberoAztlan.
The braceros (Mexican nationals) entered into contracts to provide primarily stoop labor in all of the southwestern states of the United States. Those contracts required that a portion of the bracero’s compensation would be held in a benefits bank account by Mexican banks. Some 80 years later, the Mexican government has still not be able to account for all of the financial benefits which were due to the braceros. In her interview, Zarate Macias describes the legal, diplomatic and public relations struggle which she and her cohorts face to recover some of the financial benefits due them.