Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Rafael Covarrubias was born in Tlaltenango [de Sánchez Román], Zacatecas, México; he was the youngest of his two sisters and four brothers; his parents owned a small ranch, where they worked the land; when he was roughly twenty-one years old, he enlisted in the bracero program; at the time, he as married and had a son, which put him in great need of financial assistance; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of New Mexico and Texas, irrigating and picking various crops and driving a tractor; he continued working with program for a total of ten years.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Covarrubias briefly mentions his family and childhood; by the time he was twenty-two, he had a wife and a son, but they were in desperate need of financial assistance, which prompted him to join the bracero program; he traveled to the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, where his paperwork was thoroughly checked, and he was medically examined; from there, he was transported, free of cost, by cargo train to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, then he crossed into El Paso, Texas, and finally, he was taken by bus to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; later, as he continued to re-enlist, he was transferred by bus from Chihuahua to Ciudad Juárez, and once he had money, he traveled by passenger train; while at Rio Vista, he again underwent medical assessments before being given the necessary contractual documentation; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of New Mexico and Texas, irrigating and picking various crops and driving a tractor, for a total of ten years; during this time, he worked seasonally with the same employers in Las Cruces, New Mexico and Big Spring, Texas; sometimes, he had to go to different farms, either because there were already enough workers or he could not wait to be picked up; overall, being a bracero was a positive experience for him, because it changed his life for the better; with the money he earned, he was able to buy land and livestock in México, which helped him provide his family with a steady income; he concludes by stating that given the chance, he would absolutely do it all over again.
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Interview with Rafael Covarrubias by Perla Guerrero, 2006, "Interview no. 1168," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.