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No Man's LandJamaican Guestworkers in America and the Global History of Deportable Labor$
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Cindy Hahamovitch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691102689

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691102689.001.0001

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The Worst Job in the World

The Worst Job in the World

The Cuban Revolution, the War on Poverty, and the Secret Rebellion in Florida’s Cane Fields

(p.135) Chapter Seven The Worst Job in the World
No Man's Land

Cindy Hahamovitch

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the reasons for the mass strikes among the guestworkers laboring in Florida's cane fields during the 1960s. It argues that these strikes were caused by a confluence of two seemingly unrelated events: the Cuban Revolution and Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. Like the collision of two weather systems, these transformations—a revolution and a reform program—brought unintended but devastating changes to working conditions in Florida's fields. What had been a hard but coveted opportunity for poor black men from the Caribbean became, as Johnson's Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz put it only somewhat hyperbolically, “the worst job in the world.”

Keywords:   mass strikes, 1960s, Cuban Revolution, War on Poverty, poor working conditions, rebellion, reform programs, Lyndon B. Johnson

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