Verónica Cortez and Rochelle Garza
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Leocadio Marquez was born December 9, 1933, in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, México; he had two brothers, but they died; although he was never formally educated, his uncle taught him how to read and write; as an only child, he wandered around and traveled a lot; in 1953, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, for a time; in 1957, he married; two years later, in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in the fields of California with several different crops; he and his wife went on to have seven children, five boys and two girls; one of their sons later immigrated to the United States and became a citizen, and he helped them immigrate as well.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Marquez talks about his family and childhood; he recounts several stories about his life in México; in 1957, he married, and he and his wife had three children soon after; two years later, in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program and went though the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he describes the process he endured, including medical exams and generally being treated worse than an animal in México and the United States; as a bracero, he worked in the fields of California with several different crops, and he completed two eight month contracts; he goes on to detail the worksites, camp sizes, duties, routines, treatment, provisions, payments, deductions, recreational activities and contract lengths and renewals; while he was gone, his wife and children stayed in Sonora, México, just outside of Baja California, México; when he was working in Palm Desert, California, as a palmero, he fell and was seriously injured; he was taken to the hospital and afterward to the bracero association to fully recover; in addition, he describes another accident in which a bracero lost his arm and was rumored to have received a large cash settlement; Eucadio also recounts other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero; he and his wife went on to have four more children, five boys and two girls in total; one of their sons later immigrated to the United States and became a citizen, and he helped them immigrate as well; overall, he has positive memories of the program.
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Interview with Leocadio Marquez by Verónica Cortez and Rochelle Garza, 2006, "Interview no. 1228," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.