Migrant Labor Corridos
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After the Mexican Revolutionary period (1910-1917), many Mexican citizens
North to escape their war torn nation. The Revolution had left Mexico's
in shambles. For the Mexican, there was no other alternative than to go
The United States during this time, benefited from the booming post-war
had heard of the great job opportunities available in the United States and
to go in hopes of finding jobs with higher wages. In the following years,
from Mexico to the United States grew at a constant rate. The hopes and
the impoverished immigrant would hopefully become a reality in the United
During the early years of migration(1920-1930), labor contractors actively
out Mexican immigrants due to their willingness to work under any
of the laborers who had worked in the Southern states were now being
to Northern U.S. cities. Often, the trips to the Northern cities would
cost the immigrants
more than the pay they received while working under contract. Contracted
as a vehicle of oppression for the Mexican immigrant. The migrant laborer
work and as a result of his desperate state, was exploited by the
"enganchistas." The "enganchistas"
hired Mexican labor because it was cheap and abundant. In 1929 when the
crashed, the stable United States' economy experienced a severe blow. Many
people were left jobless as a result of the crash. Since the Mexican
not a citizen of the United States, his rights were limited. Americans
Mexicans had taken jobs that were justifably theirs. Thus, escalating the
discrimination towards Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. This in effect,
destroyed the migrant laborer's
As the years progressed, the migrant workers became even more disillusioned
treatment they received in the United States. The Mexicans were welcomed
United States only as cheap sources of labor. Once in the United States,
were expected to follow a segregated law system: a system of subordination.
the United States deperately needed workers in the agricultural field due
hired hands that had gone to fight in the second World War. The United
the Bracero program in order to cover the loss of its agricultural work
this period, the Mexican laborer was promoted in the United States; yet, he
did not have a steady job. This caused him to move from city to city in
search of better job opportunities. The migrant worker
endured the many abuses of the employers through his countless journeys
through the states.
In the following decades, the braceros continued to suffer working long
little pay. Despite the many complaints, the migrant laborer remained a
unfortunate soul. As a result of the constant discrimination and injustice
experienced, a union was established. In the 1960s, the United Farm
Workers union served as an organization the farm workers could go to for
help. Those field workers who had been second
generation braceros were now able to organize and let their grievances be
heard. Benefits, job security, and better field equipment were demands made
by the migrant
workers. This became the turning point for many of the once disappointed
Now, the migrant worker could work through a collective action and make a
In studying the corridos concerning migrant labor issues, our group's goal
trace the changing attitude of the migrant laborer over a forty year time span. A selection of six corridos will be historically researched and textuall
Each of these corridos explore the Mexican immigrants' work experience at
in history. These songs, according to Américo Paredes, " have
resonance in the United
States. They record an important aspect of the Mexican-American's long
to preserve his identity and affirm his rights as a human being."<1>
In accordance with Paredes, our group also believes the corridos reflect
economic stances of the times for the migrant worker.
Another aspect of the corridos is the analysis of the evolution of the
"heroic" to "victim"<2>. We see the corridos gradually
change from the protagonist being the brave worker
going to conquer the fields to the victim protester being beaten by the
Although "heroic" corridos are still composed today, the
"victim" corrido appears
to have taken a more popular following with a more contemporary setting.
in these corridos often are innocent victims whose stories of cruel
out messages to people in hopes of them forming a collective action.
However; before we establish such an analysis, we must take a look at the
the corridos. Throughout our textual analysis, our group refers to Armando
Duvalier's six formulaic motifs<3> to establish the characteristics that
define a corrido. As a
guide to the selected corridos, the following numbers denote the various
Duvalier's Six Formulaic Motifs
(1) llamada inicial del corridista
(2) lugar, fecha y nombre del protagonista
(3) formula que precede los argumentos del personaje
(5) la despedida del personaje
(6) la despedida del corridista
After each corrido, a brief summary of its historical significance will be
along with its textual analysis. Also included is a bibliography for each
corrido. We hope you enjoy listening to the corridos and leave with a
better understanding of the migrant labor issues in corridos.
Migrant Labor Group Members
1 Paredes, Américo. A Texas-Mexican Cancionero
. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. xviii. c. 1995.
2 Peña, Manuel. "Folksong and Social Change: Two Corridos as
Interpretative Sources" Aztlan vol.13.c.1982.
3 Duvalier, Armando. "Romance y Corrido". Cristol
15 (September): p.8-16; (November): 135-141. c.1937.
"El Corrido de Texas"
"El Corrido Pensilvanio"
"Las Piscas de Algodón, Pt. 1"
"Las Piscas de Algodón, Pt. 2"
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