The story of Andres Bermudez, the so-called “Tomato King,” seems to exemplify the American Dream – but with a distinctively cross-border twist.
Bermudez got to the United States after being smuggled inside a car trunk through the Tijuana border in the 1970s, according to this story in the Los Angeles Times. Like many other Mexican migrants, Bermudez started out as a farm laborer in California. Unlike many other Mexican migrants, he invented a tomato-planting machine and became a wealthy rancher.
Rather then be pegged as a symbol of immigrant success, Bermudez expropriated his own story and added a new twist, returning to Mexico to run for mayor of his hometown of Jerez, a town of migratory exodus in the state of Zacatecas. After holding that post, Bermudez was elected federal congressman in Mexico.
Referring to the Jerez election, Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones wrote in a Feb. 8 article that “Bermudez’s candidacy reflected long-held animosities these immigrants had for Mexico’s elites, who they felt had run them out of the country.” The Los Angeles Times story sums up Bermudez’s full-circle migratory life after he died of cancer last week at the age of 58.
Quinones previously wrote about Bermudez in the book “Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration.
To see a news report (in Spanish) on Bermudez, you can watch this YouTube video.
Photo from Free Stock Photos