Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Guadalupe García was born in La Concha, Sinaloa, México; he was the second eldest of his eleven brothers and three sisters; his parents worked in agriculture and with cattle; he was formally educated through the third grade, but he left school in order to help his family work the land; for a time he was an undocumented worker in California, but he was later able to obtain proper documentation under the bracero program; as a bracero, he continued working throughout California picking celery, lettuce, and tomato, and he also operated heavy machinery, including a Caterpillar; he was ultimately able to emigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García briefly describes his family; as a child, he recalls hearing about braceros and seeing them pass him by in trains; for a time, he was an undocumented worker in California; in 1953, farmers were fined for hiring such employees, and as a result he was let go; upon returning to México, he began the contracting process for the bracero program in Mexicali, Baja California; he goes on to detail the required documentation, the different contracting centers he went through, the extraordinarily long waiting times, and the thousands of men vying for contracts; in addition, he explains how the medical exams grew more stringent over time and how during the delousing process many men would vomit from the smell; he goes on to describe his various worksites, duties, housing, provisions, payment, treatment, remittances, and recreational activities; moreover, he relates how he was able to buy a car and obtain a driver’s license; although he did have some good employers, the foremen were often mean and mistreated the braceros; he even organized a strike once due to insufficient payment; even so, his memories of having worked as a bracero are positive; he was ultimately able to emigrate to the United States.
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Interview with Guadalupe Garcia by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1169," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.