Why Cybraceros?

WHY CYBRACEROS? sarcastically uses the form of a promotional film.  It is based on a real promotional film produced in the late 1950’s by the California Grower’s Council, titled ‘Why Braceros?’  This film was used by the Grower’s Council to defend the use of Braceros, or temporary Mexican farmhands.  I use footage from this old industrial to briefly lay out the history of the Bracero Program in the United States.  At the half way point the piece takes a sharp turn as the narrator advocates a futuristic Bracero Program in which only the labor is imported to the United States.  The workers themselves (Cybraceros) are left at home in Mexico, as they tele-commute to American farms over the high-speed internet. The narrator explains that in this imagined future there is no difference between rich and poor on the internet, this is a future in which truly everyone can work from home, even braceros.

This dystopic concept, of a world in which immigrants can labor in America but never live in, or become the responsibility of, American society, is to me not only a bizarre twist on the American Dream; in some ways this is the realization of the American Dream.  The United States has always benefited from the low wage (and sometimes free or coerced) labor of recent immigrants who are drawn to America, in part, by The Dream of economic success.  Simultaneously, nearly every wave of new immigrants suffers through several decades of intense discrimination, and usually a combination of verbal and physical attacks.  The Cybracero, as a trouble free, no commitment, low-cost laborer, is the perfect immigrant.  The Cybracero is the hi-tech face of the age-old American Dream.



• Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, CineFestival Best Experimental 1997



• National Broadcast on PBS Independent Lens 2003

• PBS/WYBE Philadelphia Through the Lens 1997



• International Center of Photography Only Skin Deep Exhibition 2003

• Guggenheim Museum With Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times’ 2001

• Telluride Film Festival 1998

• Robert Flaherty Film Seminar: Memory and Modernity 1997

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