The Impact of Latin Americans on Transportation in Northern Louisiana

Immigration to Northern Louisiana came to a halt in the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused job opportunities to dry up and some states began repatriation movements, deporting both Mexicans and Americans of Mexican origin to Mexico. This, combined with trade and settlements in a strategic border area, kept the Mississippi River closed to U. S. navigation.

In 1980, Latinos in San Francisco organized United Latinos (United Latinos) to support a hotel strike. In the 1770s, when the colonies of northern New Spain were organized into an enormous semi-autonomous administrative unit, the Internal Provinces, the reason for the agreement in New Mexico and Texas was to improve the colonies' defensive potential, not expansive. At the beginning of the 21st century, Mexican Americans and Mexicans continued to occupy many of the same niches in the Great Plains labor market that they had occupied for nearly a century. President Roosevelt's New Deal labor legislation, including the Wagner Act of 1935, expanded the role of Latina workers, such as Bert Corona, of the International Union of Longshoremen and Warehouses (ILWU), and of Latina women from the International Union of Women's Garment Workers (ILGWU), who were participating in and building the American labor movement. Determined to eliminate the American threat, Mexican governors in the 1820s and 1830s granted huge land grants to the Baubiens, Miranda, and other important New Mexico families. At its 1996 annual convention, the Labor Council for the Advancement of Latin America presented resolutions on the intensification of the organization of Latinos in the labor movement. Puerto Rico's colonial status and its problem of overpopulation provoked and sustained emigration, transforming impoverished Puerto Ricans into proletarian globetrotters who went to work in the Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and the Hawaiian Islands.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans maintained a significant presence in the southern plains. Ucapawa had between 18,000 and 20,000 Mexican-American beet workers in the plains, of whom 60 percent were born in Mexico and 40 percent were born in the United States. In 1972, 2,000 Mexican American and Mexican women workers who belonged to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America of the Farah Pants Company in El Paso, Texas, went on strike for two years to protest low salaries, low benefits and unfair treatment by management. In Ybor City, Cuban-American workers who belonged to the United States Workers' Alliance and the Popular Front Committee were equally immersed in local, national and international issues. But like other organizing efforts, UCAPAWA failed due to Euro-American organizers who knew little about beetroot industry or Americans of Mexican origin. Growing American influence first contributed to the Texas Revolution in 1836, and then culminated in the annexation of Texas and New Mexico by the United States in 1845 and 1848 respectively.

Federico Peña strove to make politics in Denver during his time as Secretary of Transportation during President Bill Clinton's first administration and Secretary of Energy for two years during his second administration. The presence of Latin Americans has had a profound effect on transportation infrastructure throughout Northern Louisiana. From their involvement with labor movements such as UCAPAWA to their role in keeping trade routes open along strategic border areas like Mississippi River - Latin Americans have been instrumental in shaping transportation networks throughout Northern Louisiana.

Willem Vermeulen
Willem Vermeulen

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