Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Cándido Alarcón was born on February 10, 1940, in Chichihualco, Guerrero, México; his parents worked in agriculture, and he had seven siblings; he finished the equivalent of elementary school in México, and shortly thereafter he began helping his father till the land; in his late twenties he decided to enlist in the bracero program, but he only obtained one forty-five day contract to work in the lettuce fields of Salinas, California; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Alarcón very briefly discusses his family and childhood; he learned about the bracero program through his friends; when he was roughly twenty-six years old, he decided to join the program in order to give his wife and daughter a better life; he explains that each town had a raffle to see who would travel to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, in order to enlist; from there he traveled to Calexico, California, where he was stripped naked and medically examined before being deloused; he describes the process as humiliating, because he was treated like an animal; moreover, he and the other men had to wait to be chosen by ranchers before they could go to work; he was ultimately able to obtain a forty-five day contract to work in the lettuce fields of Salinas, California; at first, he had a hard time learning how to do the work, but he soon found some friends to help him; he goes on to detail his various duties, living conditions, provisions, treatment, payment, and remittances; in addition, he mentions that another rancher would stop by to ask if any of the men wanted extra work; on Saturdays and Sundays, his days off, he worked for this rancher picking nuts for about five hours a day; upon completing his contract he was transported by train to the border, and from there he had to pay his own way to return to México; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he eventually returned to México, where he tilled the land that his parents left him; in the late nineties, he and his family immigrated to the United States.
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Interview with Cándido Alarcón by Ivonne Méndez, 2008, "Interview no. 1329," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.