Drought in Central Mexico spurs immigration
©Scott Sines — In the early 1980’s severe drought conditions dried up Mexico’s breadbasket. Crop after crop failed and many small farms were collapsing. Campesinos sold their possessions including the livestock for seed. A surge of men crossing the border illegally into South Texas resulted.
Moses Cervantes was one of them. He was a life-long farmer from Guanajuato working illegally in San Antonio as a day laborer. As Rob Tomsho wrote, “One by one he sold his cattle, goats, pigs and chickens until there was nothing left to sell except the land his father had given him 30 years ago. He couldn’t do it so he went north. A small landowner never gives up. It’s all we’ve got.”
At the same time rich agriculturists who could afford irrigation made money on the drought. The picture of the parched field with the three burros in the background is directly across a dirt road from the field with the watered rows. Many of the people working the irrigated fields are families of the farmers whose crops are failing. They needed the money.
Before leaving the small town near Moses’s ranch Rob and I stopped at a little cantina. We ordered a couple of beers and struck up a conversation with an old fellow at the bar. He was a horse rancher and a friend of the Governor of the state of San Luis Potosi. Or so we thought until our errant interpreter showed up and the guy turned out to be a horse thief banned from San Luis Potosi by the governor. Or something very similar to that.