Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Natividad Cano was born on December 25, 1947, in Sasabe, Sonora, México; she was the eldest of her eight siblings; her father, Alberto Valenzuela, worked with the bracero program, as did her grandfather and uncle; in México, she was formally educated through the sixth grade, but upon emigrating to the United States, she continued her education and even went to college; she went on to become a community organizer and activist for braceros in Tucson, Arizona.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Cano very vividly describes her family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, and what her childhood was like; her father, Alberto Valenzuela, worked for a rancher in México, and they often came to the United States to sell livestock; the rancher knew people who worked for the bracero program, and he recommended Alberto; in 1943, he traveled by train to Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, to enlist in the program, and he took his ID, birth certificate, and letters of recommendation with him; he worked primarily in southern Arizona with livestock, and he sent money home as often as he could; upon finishing his assigned duties, he was often sent to work with another rancher; he returned home to renew his contract roughly every two years; while he was gone, Natividad and her family stayed with her maternal grandparents; her mother would get very depressed whenever he was gone, especially because there was very little if any contact with him; in 1953, he emigrated to the United States, and he later brought the rest of his family; as a daughter, grand-daughter, and niece of braceros, she went on to become a community organizer and activist in Tucson, Arizona; Natividad has heard several stories about braceros being humiliated during medical exams; furthermore, they were often treated like second class citizens or as less than human; although she believes the program started with good intentions, the end results proved to be quite different; the United States benefited much more than the braceros ever did, and any advantages they did obtain were never long lasting; more than forty years later, they are still waiting for the money that is owed to them.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Natividad Cano by Anais Acosta, 2008, "Interview no. 1337," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.