Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Luis Guzmán was born August 25, 1939, in Santa María del Oro, Durango, México; he and his nine siblings grew up on a ranch with their parents, and he helped his father work in the fields while going to school; in 1956, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, picking beets and cotton; he continued working on and off with the program until 1962; later, in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he brought the rest of his family with him in 1976.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Guzmán briefly discusses his family, childhood, and adolescence; in 1956, he enlisted in the bracero program at a contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, and he later went through a center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; as part of the hiring process, he had to have a letter of recommendation from a judge or authority stating that he was a good worker; in addition, he was physically examined, and he had to give blood samples as well; as a bracero, he worked in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, picking beets and cotton; he goes on to describe the various worksites, a typical work day, housing, living amenities, provisions, payment, and recreational activities; overall, he was treated well by his employers; he spent his longest time working in Pecos, Texas, on a small farm with about thirty to forty workers; although he was never in need of medical treatment, he knew of others who were taken to see a doctor by the foreman; moreover, he states that he kept in contact with his family via letters, and he sent money home every eight to fifteen days; he continued working on and off with the program until 1962; later, in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately brought the rest of his family with him in 1976; his memories of the program are positive, and he is proud of having worked as a bracero; he concludes by commenting that his experiences ultimately changed his life, because they are what made him decide to permanently live in the United States.
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Interview with Luis Guzmán by Nancy Villafranca, 2005, "Interview no. 1272," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.