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Issue #1759      November 30, 2016


“Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (also known as “Deportee”) is a protest song written by Woody Guthrie detailing the January 28, 1948 crash of a plane near Los Gatos Canyon. A US government chartered plane deporting 28 Mexican nationals went down, killing all on board. They were “wetback” workers who had entered the United States illegally – induced by the promise of good-paying jobs from agents of the big fruit orchards in California. Newspaper articles at the time called the workers “deportees” – no names were given.

Woody Guthrie’s song is still relevant today. As to the “deportees” – they were finally given names in a ceremony in 2013 when thanks to the local community a memorial ceremony was held and the names of all the people killed in the plane crash were inscribed on a headstone.


The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are piled in their creosote dumps,
You’re flying them back to the Mexico border
To pay all their money to wade back again.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
You won’t have a name when you ride the big plane
All they will call you will be DEPORTEES.

My father’s own father he waded that river
They took all the money he made in his life.
Six hundred miles to the Mexico border
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts
We died in your valleys and died in your plains
We died ‘neath your trees and we died in your bushes
Both sides of the border, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon
A fire ball of lightening it shook all our hills
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio tells us they’re just DEPORTEES.

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To be scattered like dry leaves and to rot on the topsoil
And be called by no name except DEPORTEES.

Woody Guthrie

Next article – 457 system broken

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