Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto Garcia S. was born on May 13, 1933, in El Bueyero, Mexticacán, Jalisco, México; his mother’s name was Dominga Sánchez, and his father’s name was Cruz García; Robert had eight siblings, but two of them died; his father, Cruz, owned a small plot of land, a milpa, which he inherited from his father; consequently, Robert grew up sowing corn and beans as well as caring for animals; in 1942, Cruz enlisted in the bracero program; later, in the midfifties, Roberto followed in his father’s footsteps, and he continued working with the program until it ended in 1964; he and his family later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Garcia gives a detailed description of his parents, siblings and children; he recalls his father becoming a bracero and the difficulties he and his family faced; they had to work the land and care for the animals on their own; in addition, he describes the various tasks his mother had to perform as well; he later began working illegally in Arizona against his father’s wishes; during the midfifties he went with a coyote in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, and later to Empalme, Sonora, México, to enlist as a bracero; on average, he had to wait there for at least fifteen days; he was able to survive by working as a cook in a restaurant, and he continued doing so whenever he had to wait for a contract; as part of the processing he was stripped, which he describes as embarrassing and sad; in addition, he mentions having to pay a representative for handling the papers, as well as travel expenses; as a bracero, he worked in six different places, but he spent most of his time in the San Gabriel, California, area; he goes on to detail the camps’ living conditions, housing, accommodations, daily routines, payments, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities, including trips into town; in 1994, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States.
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Interview with Roberto Garcia S. by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1150," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.