Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Manuel Salamanca was born on December, 26, 1923, in Nochistlán, Zacatecas, Mexico; as a young boy, he helped his family by working in the fields and caring for animals; both of his parents and a sister were killed; he was raised by his older brother and sister-in-law; when he was eighteen, he joined the bracero program; as a bracero he labored in the fields of California, Texas and Arizona picking oranges, lemons, tomato, cotton, and beets; he also irrigated the fields; he worked as a bracero from 1942-1959; he married in 1956 and fathered six children.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Manuel Salamanca recalls the humble beginnings of his childhood and how he and his siblings suffered; he discusses the advice his eldest brother gave him and his reasons for moving to the United States; Mr. Salamanca discusses the harsh treatment he endured at the hands of his sister-in-law; he went without food for several days because she did not want to raise him; in 1942, at the age of eighteen, he heard about a call for braceros; he traveled to the processing center in Mexicali, Mexico; he briefly discusses the processing center; as part of the process, he was medically examined, vaccinated, and deloused; his first contract took him to fields of Texas; it was a forty-five day contract; after the contract ended, he returned to Mexico; in 1943 he renewed his contract and worked in Tucson, Arizona; in 1953-54 he worked in the grape fields of Delano, California; he met and married his wife in 1956; his wife would visit him at the camp; he briefly details the camp size, living conditions, duties, remittances and correspondence; after the bracero program ended, he returned to Mexico but continued crossing into the United States illegally until he was able to gain legal status; Mr. Salamanca concludes that his overall experiences as a bracero were positive.
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Interview with Manuel Salamanca by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1315," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.