Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Antonio García B. was born on August 9, 1934, in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico; he had five siblings; both his parents passed away by the time Mr. García was six years old; as a young boy he helped his family by working in the fields; he was formally educated through the third grade; later, in 1954, he became a bracero and worked in the agricultural fields of Texas and California; one of his brothers was also a bracero; his last bracero contract was in 1961.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Antonio García B. briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his siblings endured; he remembers hearing stories about the bracero program and he decided to enlist; in 1954, he went through the hiring process to become a bracero; he recalls the entire process, lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation to and from the center; he recalls that one of the requirements for the braceros was to have calloused hands; in addition, he mentions going through the centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; he also describes the medical exams and required documents; his first contract took him to work in the cotton fields of Texas; he returned to Mexico and renewed his contract in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico; in 1955, while married for only twenty-eight days, he returned to Lamesa, Texas for a second contract; his duties entailed irrigation and picking cotton; he worked nine hour shifts, six days a week; he earned four dollars and fifty cents a day; he briefly details the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; many braceros would go to the movies, play cards, drink, and gamble nearly every weekend; his third contract took him to work in the strawberry fields of Watsonville, California; his forth contract took him to work in the asparagus fields in the San Joaquin Valley; many braceros used a short-handled hoe and were ordered to remain stooped over while working in the fields; during one of his contracts, Mr. García B. recalls that the braceros were not paid on time; for this reason, his family struggled to pay the bills in Mexico; he mentions the emotional hardship his family endured while he was working as a bracero; in 1962, he was able to legally emigrate to the United States; he concludes that he is proud to have worked with the Bracero Program.
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Interview with Antonio García B. by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1325," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.