Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Miguel Zavala was born on June 9, 1925, in Copandaro, Michoacán, México; at an early age, he began sowing beans, corn, garbanzos, and wheat; he joined the Bracero Program in 1955, and worked in California and Texas; there, he picked asparagus, cotton, grapes, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Zavala recalls growing up in Agua Caliente, Michoacán, México, and working from an early age sowing beans, corn, garbanzos, and wheat; he joined the Bracero Program in 1955, and remembers picking asparagus, cotton, grapes, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries and tomatoes in California and Texas; additionally, he describes the hiring process in rural areas, the bribes he had to pay to be on a selection list, his experience at the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, and the long waits there; he details the hardships braceros suffered waiting to be contracted, the humiliation of the medical exams, and the bad treatment they received from doctors; furthermore, he discusses the daily activities on the farms, their working hours, the bad food they were given, and the treatment they received from foremen; he explains the different contracts he had, and the extensions he got; moreover, he relates what braceros did on weekends, how they sent money back to México, and the kind of mail they received; he also states the complaints braceros had; to conclude, he recounts the way he missed his family while in the program, the bad treatment braceros received, the negative memories he has of the program, and why he decided never to return to the United States for work.
Date of Interview
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Interview with Miguel Zavala López by Violeta Domínguez, 2002, "Interview no. 1046," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.