Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Venustiano Machado was born December 30, 1931, in Sinaloa, México; he had eight siblings, six sisters, all of whom were older, and two brothers; when he was six years old, his father died; shortly thereafter, he began working to help support his family; consequently, he was never formally educated; his mother sold food and various other goods as well; by the time he was fifteen, he was working in the United States; later, during the early 1950s, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Santa Ana, California, picking asparagus, green beans, strawberries and tomatoes; he immigrated to the United States, where he eventually married and raised a family of four.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Machado talks about his family and the death of his father when he was a boy; by the time he was fifteen, he was working in the United States; during the early 1950s, he put himself on the list of available workers in Sinaloa, México; he describes the necessary requirements and process he underwent; moreover, he explains that he had to pay ten pesos for someone to fill out the papers, because he was illiterate; once he crossed into the United States, he was stripped and medically examined; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Santa Ana, California, picking asparagus, green beans, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, remittances, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; furthermore, he chronicles having to work seven days a week, thirteen to fourteen hours a day, when picking asparagus and strawberries so they would not spoil; despite the grueling work, he stayed with the same employer for seven years under the program and for an additional three years after obtaining his visa; he eventually married and raised a family of four; upon final reflection, he is proud to have been a bracero, because it changed his life and gave him more opportunities.
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Interview with Venustiano Machado by Alejandra Valles, 2008, "Interview no. 1353," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.