Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto García was born in Tepetzingo, [Morelos] México; his father passed away when he was very young; eventually, he had to stop going to school, because the family did not have the money; instead, he began working to help support the family; shortly after, he married; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Colorado, Montana, Texas and Wyoming, picking beets, cantaloupes, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes; he continued working with the program until it ended in 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García talks about going to school as a young boy and the different cities he traveled to in order to continue his education; eventually, he had to stop going to school, because the family did not have the money, and he began working instead; shortly after, he married, and in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; he explains that he signed up on the list of available workers in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México, which in turn allowed him to get to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he waited there for over a month with thousands of other men; oftentimes, they slept on cardboard and ate whatever they could find; upon arriving in the United States, he was yelled and cursed at, in addition to being pushed around and generally mistreated; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Colorado, Montana, Texas and Wyoming, picking beets, cantaloupes, peaches, pears, plums and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, working relationships, friendships, contract lengths and renewals, payments, deductions and recreational activities, including trips into town and religious services; while working, the heat was so intense in some places, that they had to take salt pills; he also mentions that prostitution was a regular occurrence in the barracks; moreover, he relates several other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero; he continued working with the program until it ended in 1964; in addition, he discusses his life after the program.
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Interview with Roberto García by Verónica Cortéz, 2006, "Interview no. 1067," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.