Mexico

Alfonso Lara


The Other Soldiers

Little-remembered treaty sent 300,000 sons of Mexico to the United States during WWII; their weapons were their labor-hardy bodies

By Violeta Dominguez

The battlefield wasn’t the only place where Mexicans lent their services during World War II.

In spite of the fact that few remember, the North American home front counted on the help of nearly 300,000 servicemen known as “soldiers of the furrows and the railroad,” as well as, simply, laborers, or, in Spanish, braceros.

Genaro Garcia Cortes


By Juliana Torres

It wasn't the hard work he'd have to endure as a laborer that scared Genaro Cortes as he considered his decision to travel to the States. At 24, he was most worried about the possibility of being drafted. A mason by trade, Cortes remembered the rumors that swirled about how the notion of recruitment for labor work was simply a guise to actually "draft people and send them to the Pacific to fight."

Máximo Perez Butanda


The Other Soldiers

Little-remembered treaty sent 300,000 sons of Mexico to the United States during WWII; their weapons were their labor-hardy bodies

By Violeta Dominguez

The battlefield wasn’t the only place where Mexicans lent their services during World War II.

In spite of the fact that few remember, the North American home front counted on the help of nearly 300,000 servicemen known as “soldiers of the furrows and the railroad,” as well as, simply, laborers, or, in Spanish, braceros.

Delfina Cooremans Baladez


By Kim Loop

Sisters Wilhelmina Cooremans Vasquez, 79, and Delfina Cooremans Baladez, 81, have done nearly everything together throughout their lives, including joining the workforce during World War II.

In early 1942, when the United States was mobilizing to join the war in Europe and the Pacific, the two sisters were eager to help.

Elena V. Ortiz


By Matt Norris

San Antonio, Texas, resident Elena Ortiz has a deep family history rooted in the Canary Islands, Spain, Mexico and San Antonio. Her family fought at the Alamo, in the Battle of New Orleans and World War II.

María Isabel Solís Thomas


By Aaan Zukowski

María Isabel Solis Thomas remembers the day as if it were yesterday: She and her sister, Elvia, are standing on a dock at a Richmond, Calif., shipyard, waving goodbye to sailors boarding American ships destined for battle during World War II.

Thomas recalls a young sailor asking for one of her tiny cross earrings. Not one to part easily with any of her jewelry, Thomas remembers Elvia’s shock when she gladly removed the earring and gave it to the sailor as a going-away memento -- even though she’d never see the sailor again.

Joe Nevarez


By Melanie Sewell

A pioneer in his field at a time when jobs were scarce, Joe Reyes Nevarez was one of the first Mexican Americans to work for The Los Angeles Times as a reporter.

"I used to tell the managing editor, 'Why don't you employ Mexican Americans?'" said Nevarez, adding that his editors always told him there wasn't anyone who was trained.

"Of course today," he said, "I think the whole staff is Mexican American. There are so many Mexican-American reporters at the Times."

Marcelino Ramirez Bautista


Shortly after Marcelino Ramirez Bautista’s mother, Petra Ramirez, died in 1916, Bautista’s father took young Bautista with him when he left Zacatecas, Mexico, for New Mexico in search of work.

When Tiburcio Bautista lost his job in the United States, he and Bautista moved back to Mexico, where Bautista later met and married Anastacia Muñez Robles on June 7, 1930, in Zacatecas.

Adolfo Vega Reyes


By Zachary Warmbrodt

Around March of 1921, Anita Vega Reyes and her three young boys were on the run. Her husband, Pedro Reyes, had owned a mine in their hometown of Cananea, Sonora, and he was getting too political, his youngest son Adolfo Reyes– then six months old – recounts. Pedro was shot and killed by enemies in Baja who wanted his mine. Now, his killers were after his wife and sons.

Alfonso L. Matta


By Christina Tran

When he became vice chairman of Houston’s Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1990, Alfonso Matta would recall his closest experience with a railcar, when he was a 14-year-old on a bike.

“The railcar – we had rail then – it turned on Houston Avenue, and I came and bumped up into it, and I fell onto there and hit something, and it stopped the streetcar, and the streetcar driver was like what are you doing there, and get off,” Matta said. “It was electric. I thought the wheels were gonna get me.”