Adriana Sandoval and Rochelle Garza
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Raul Cardenas was born on March 18, 1943, in Venustiano Carranza, Michoacán, México; oldest child of Trino Cárdenas and María Maceas; his mother was a housewife; his father died when he was six years old; he moved to México at the age of sixteen and worked as a taco vendor; he became a bracero at the age of seventeen and worked in Yolo, California picking tomatoes; he also labored in Salinas, California and Santa Ana, California picking chile; he later labored in the fields of Poston, Arizona; after his last contract he immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Cardenas briefly recalls his childhood and having to move to México City, México, to start working; when he was seventeen years of age he heard about a call for braceros; he decided to leave his job for the chance to work in the United States; he traveled to the processing center in Calexico, México; he details the harsh conditions he and other men endured while waiting there; in addition, he talks about how painful the physical exams were and how rudely they were conducted; his first contract took him to work in the tomato fields of Yolo, California; he goes on to detail living conditions, provisions, payments, deductions and remittances, treatment, friendships, and recreational activities; in 1962 while working in the fields of Santa Ana, California, he recalls hearing of President Kennedy’s assassination; in 1964 he completed his last contract, returned to México and got married; he and his wife later immigrated to the United States; although he did suffer as a bracero, his overall memories of the program are positive.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Raul Cardenas M. by Adriana Sandoval and Rochelle Garza, 2006, "Interview no. 1186," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.