Editor’s note: At the last U.S.-Mexico Binational Meeting on November 9, Secretary of State Colin Powell dashed hopes for an integral immigration reform in the near future. Delivering the line of the Bush administration, he made it clear that the negotiations would only include the Bush guest worker proposal, with no immediate prospect for regularization of the millions of Mexicans living in the United States. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Derbez replied that Mexico “would take whatever’s on the table.” The following article explains why a return to a bracero-like guest worker program fits in with the corporate agenda for cheap labor but completely fails to resolve the problem of immigration and immigrant rights.

In 1947, after reading a newspaper article about the crash of a plane carrying a group of Mexican contract workers back to the border, Woody Guthrie wrote a poem, later set to music by Martin Hoffman. In haunting lyrics he describes how it caught fire as it flew low over Los Gatos Canyon, near Coalinga at the edge of California’s San Joaquin Valley. Observers below saw people and belongings flung out of the aircraft before it hit the ground, falling like leaves, Guthrie says.

While the Coalinga Record carried the names of the pilot and Border Patrol agent on the flight, no record was kept of the workers

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