Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Apolonio Venegas was born on April 10, 1930, in San Román, Jalisco, México; his father’s name was Santiago Venegas, and he worked in agriculture in addition to selling goods in town to earn money; his mother’s name was Guadalupe Guzmán; Apolonio had twelve siblings; his family moved to México, Distrito Federal, for a few years, before settling in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, México; he later enlisted in the bracero program, and he worked throughout California picking apples, beets, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, pears, and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Venegas talks about his family and how they all worked hard to make ends meet; they moved around before settling in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, México; he later went to Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, with a group of thirty-five men to enlist in the bracero program; at the time, he was very naïve and thought that the work would be easy, but it was extremely difficult; as a bracero, he worked throughout California picking apples, beets, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, pears, and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, living conditions, provisions, daily routines, duties, treatment, correspondence, payments, and remittances; moreover, he provides an extremely detailed explanation of the work involved in cultivating several crops, especially, cleaning, pruning, and picking beets, which included using the short hoe; while in Santa María, California, there was a dress code for the dining hall; if the men did not follow it, they were sent to change; he also describes immigration checks in which those with papers ran away to protect those without documentation, knowing nothing would happen to them once they showed their contracts; in addition, he mentions being part of a strike, because workers were cheated out of their fair pay due to an improperly balanced scale; by the time their complaints were investigated, the foreman had already fixed the scale; sometime after the program ended he immigrated and permanently settled in the United States.
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Interview with Apolonio Venegas by Anais Acosta, 2006, "Interview no. 1163," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.