Los Vendidos, Luis Valdez shocking satire, speaks the language of exploitation and callousness. The backdrop of this play is a “Used Mexican Lot” akin to a car lot where poor workers are peddled like petty and inexpensive merchandise. The enthusiastic salesman declares that at “Honest Sancho’s Used Mexican lot..we got all types here”. What does the playwright mean by this despicable and dehumanizing setting? A significant objective of this play is to show the ruling bourgeois shopping for labor and the twist of labor fighting back to seek vengeance against their exploiters.
Valdez highlights how politics and mistreatment of poor workers go hand-in-hand through social parody bordering on outlandishness. He uses whimsical dialogue and the language of corrupt politicians to hint at this inherent racism economic paradigm. Miss Jimenez, one of Valdez’s characters, inquires about how to store farm labors to save them from wear and tear. Sancho in his bright Shylock manner states “You know these new farm labor camps our honorable Governor Reagan has built…they were designed with our model in mind”. In this case, Valdez shows how the field worker lives in deplorable conditions set forth by inept and racist public policies uncaring of farm labor health and safety. Furthermore, the mission that Miss Jimenez is sent to accomplish is very telling to highlight this point. Reagan sends her to find a “Mexican type for the administration” to be used in a crowd as a proper token of “Mexicaness” and support his political causes. Luis Valdez critique climaxes with the underhanded Johnny’s attempt at a stolen purse with Miss Jimenez’s lament “we can’t have anymore thieves in the State Administration”.
Valdez ultimately bemoans the emptiness and stupidity of stereotypes. The generalizations that underpin these prejudices are ultimately hollow and buffoonish. Miss Jimenez is a dupe paying for so-called merchandise when in fact she is being tricked. The Mexican workers displayed as robots are naturally real-life humans. The slick and sly Sancho is rhetorically shown to be the actual puppet ashamed of his phony gimmicky ways to sell out his uneducated countrymen, women and others. While he is filled with bluster, the character he is playing has not real dignity, he is only that type that “always got to play the goddamn Mexican-American” as Valdez angrily showcases. Sanchos is the sad sell-out denying his roots with Miss Jimenez cooing in admiration and the merchandise labor struggling to emerge out of automation and express their true worth to a society looking for the latest cogs to control the economy.