Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Esteban Saldaña was born on December 25, 1929, in San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México; as a child, he often helped his father work on their ranch and care for the animals; he never received any formal schooling; when he was twenty-one years old, he stopped working for his father and began the hiring process for the Bracero Program; he worked on and off as a bracero from 1949 to 1954.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Saldaña spent his childhood and adolescence helping his father work the land and care for the animals they owned; he married when he was only seventeen years old, and he had children shortly thereafter; when he was twenty-one years old, he stopped working for his father in order to become a bracero and make more money to support his family; he had heard of the Bracero Program through media and news advertisements; for this first contract, he went to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, which in turn took him to work in Lovington, New Mexico, for three months; he later went through contracting centers in Durango and Monterrey México to find work; from 1949 to 1952, he worked as a bracero; he recalls that their meals consisted of a sandwich and an apple each day, for which they had to pay $12.00 per week; in 1953, he worked illegally in the United States, and a year later, in 1954, he was again able to work legally as a bracero; he comments that there were no differences in salary or duties while he worked illegally; that same year, while working in Arkansas, he organized a strike for workers to get paid 10¢ more per pound of cotton that they picked.
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Interview with Esteban Saldaña by Myrna Parra-Mantilla, 2003, "Interview no. 1139," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.