Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Carmen Velazquez was born on a small ranch in Las Jaritas, in the municipality of Lagos de Moreno, México; she has six siblings, and her parents owned livestock and worked in agriculture; her father hired a tutor for the children, which only lasted a short while; when she was sixteen years old, she married José Bartolo Velázquez, who enlisted in the bracero program.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Velazquez briefly describes her childhood and family; she recalls being young and naïve enough to believe that coming to the United States guaranteed money; when she was sixteen years old, she married José Bartolo Velázquez; shortly after their nuptials, he went to Empalme, Sonora, México, to enlist in the bracero program; while he was away, she and her ten children lived with her father; she remembers not having enough money for cloth diapers, having to tear up whatever clothes she could find, and constantly washing; what little money he did manage to send she used to buy necessities for the children; they were eventually able to save up enough money to buy a small home, which she lent to a friend while she lived with her father; it was difficult for her to care for so many children alone; she recalls going with them to visit an uncle; he told them all to go home early, because they were too unruly and too much to handle; even so, her children helped when they could; she relates one instance when her son went into the city alone to sell paletas, and he did not return until very late, which worried her greatly; much to her surprise, he came home with beans, tortillas, tomatoes, and chiles for the family to eat; she also helped support the family by ironing and washing, but because she washed by hand her fingers often bled; her husband would write letters home, and she would have her sister respond, because she did not know how to write; she concludes by stating that she and her family suffered greatly in her husband’s absence.
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Interview with Carmen Velazquez by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1184," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.