Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Audmaro G. Zepeda was born on May 10, 1933, in Jalisco, México; as the second of thirteen siblings he only went to school through the third grade; when he was nine years old, he began working in the fields; his uncles were braceros, and so he decided to follow in their footsteps; he worked with the Bracero Program on and off from 1957 to 1961; as a bracero, he worked throughout California, picking beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chile, and cotton.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Zepeda recalls his childhood and adolescence; because his uncles had worked as braceros, he knew that would be his one chance for a better future; in 1957, he began the hiring process by paying $300.00 to go on the county’s list of eligible workers; he then went to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, and he was sent by train to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, where he was medically examined and deloused; as a bracero, he worked throughout California, picking beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chile, and cotton; when he worked in Salinas, California, there were between 400 and 600 workers; they had to wake up at 3:00 am just to eat breakfast; he usually worked seven days a week, and rarely had Sundays off; while working in the fields he often spent the entire day hunched over, and was yelled at and got in trouble for standing up; he goes on to describe the overall working and living conditions, methods of payment, his daily routine, the food, and what he did when he was not working; although there were often strikes in the camps due to complaints about salary and working hours, he avoided them at all costs; each time his contract ended, he returned to México, and he had to pay for his name to go on a new list for another contract; he concludes that he was proud to have been a bracero and considers the United States his second home.
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Interview with Audmaro G. Zepeda by Mireya Loza, 2005, "Interview no. 1105," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.