Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Marselina Meza was born on April 26, 1944, in Santa Cruz Huitziltepec, Molcaxac [Puebla], México; she is the eldest of her five siblings, and her parents were campesinos; in 1959, her father enlisted in the bracero program, and she and her mother were left to care for the children and work the land; when she was seventeen years old, she married Nemencio Meza Ortiz, who also labored as a bracero; she later came to the United States with her family and settled in Los Angeles, California.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Meza describes her family and what life was like growing up in a small town; her family owned a parcel of land where they planted beans, corn, and wheat; she recalls never going to school very much, because she helped care for her younger siblings; her father was a bracero in the late fifties and early sixties; he worked in California and Texas, usually on forty-five day contracts, three to four times a year; when he was gone, she and her mother were left to care for the children and work the land; in 1962, she married Nemencio Meza Ortiz, who also labored as a bracero; he was contracted a few times before their nuptials and only twice more afterward; while he was away, she was left alone with the children and little to no money; they were able to communicate occasionally by phone and through letters; he worked illegally in the United States during the seventies; their eldest son immigrated to the United States in the mideighties, and the rest of the family moved to Tijuana, Baja California, México; they sold whatever they could to make ends meet; over time, her son was able to save money and rent a home so that the rest of the family could move to Los Angeles, California; upon final reflection of the bracero program, she feels that many of the men suffered greatly; moreover, she insists that the government should pay the 10 percent that is owed to the braceros; her father even gave her all his documentation in the hopes that she would be able to receive reparations.
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Interview with Marselina Meza Lo. by Anabel Mota, 2006, "Interview no. 1172," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.