Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Salvador Velazco was born November 8, 1919, in Atengo, Jalisco, México; in 1935, his family moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico due to financial difficulties with the family business; he initially came to the United States, in 1947, without documents, but roughly a month later, he acquired a bracero contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking and packing various crops and driving a tractor until 1960; during this time he married and began raising a family of five children, three girls and two boys; he later returned to the United States and ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Velazco talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; he recalls that at first, people were afraid of getting sent off to war if they enlisted in the bracero program; Salvador initially came to the United States, in 1947, without documents; roughly a month later, he went to the Coachella Valley Farmer’s Association (CVFA) and acquired a bracero contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking and packing various crops and driving a tractor until 1960; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, payments, remittances, treatment, friendships, contract lengths and renewals and recreational activities, including trips into town; his first contract was for three and a half months, but he ended up staying four years and four months; he also mentions the CVFA and how helpfully they were, particularly when renewing contracts; in 1951, he returned to México in order to obtain a new contract; he eventually went through centers in Guanajuato, Sonora, Querétaro and Baja California, México; moreover, he was also able to get specialized worker contracts as a tractor driver and palmero, or date picker; his largest weekly check was $77.00, but he had to work over one hundred hours; he also relates several other anecdotes about his experiences; during his time as a bracero, he married and began raising a family of five children, three girls and two boys; he later returned to the United States and ultimately became a citizen; overall, he has positive memories of the program.
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Interview with Salvador Velazco by Verónica Cortés, 2006, "Interview no. 1254," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.