Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Mendoza García was born in 1932, in Durango, México; he was the fourth born of his seven siblings; when he was still young, his mother died while she was giving birth to one of his younger siblings; his father owned a small plot of land, which he farmed, and Antonio helped; during the 1960s, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Oregon picking avocados, cotton, pecans, strawberries and tomatoes; he eventually married and had six children, all of whom were born in Durango, México; for a time, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, but he was ultimately able to obtain legal status.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Mendoza briefly talks about his family; initially, he heard about the bracero program through the radio; during the 1960s, he enlisted in the bracero program; he went through centers in Durango and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; the center in Monterrey was a sports stadium, and people often went by to give the men free food as they waited; once in the United States, he was medically examined and deloused, like an animal; the powder used smelled horribly, and he had to wait two hours before he could wash it off; he and others were then packed into trailers like cattle and transported to the worksites; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Oregon picking avocados, cotton, pecans, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, payments, remittances, contract lengths and renewals and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he describes the different crops he picked and the particulars of each; he eventually married a woman by the name of Angela Rojas García; together, they had six children, three boys and three girls; they were all born in Durango, México; for a time, Antonio worked in the United States without proper documentation, but he was ultimately able to obtain legal status; his family also immigrated to the United States; overall, he has positive memories of the program.
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Interview with Antonio Mendoza García by Hugo Camacho, 2000, "Interview no. 1356," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.