Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Olivares Samaniego was born February 8, 1929, in Bavispe, Sonora, México; he was the fourth born of his five siblings; his mother was a housewife, and his father was an agriculturalist; he was formally educated only through the third grade, because he had to help his father work in the fields; the family later moved to Hermosillo, Sonora, México; during the early 1950s, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Washington, picking and irrigating alfalfa, beets, cotton, pears, peas and tomatoes; after the program ended, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, but he was able to obtain legal status shortly thereafter.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Olivares briefly talks about his family; after they moved to Hermosillo, Sonora, México, he heard about the bracero program; during the early 1950s, he decided to enlist in the program; he recounts the contracting process he underwent; although he was not medically examined in México, his hands and arms were checked to ensure that he was able to work; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Washington, picking and irrigating alfalfa, beets, cotton, pears, peas and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, routines, treatment, payment, remittances and contract lengths; in addition, he explains that while in Washington, his boss did not speak any Spanish; as a result, they communicated through signs; in Arizona, he had more contact with his boss, because he did speak Spanish; while there he was also given passes to return to México for Christmas; he also mentions that he worked from sun up to sun down, but he was only paid for ten hours daily; after the program ended, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, but he was able to obtain legal status shortly thereafter; overall, his experiences with the program were positive, because he had work in the United States, whereas in México, he did not.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Antonio Olivares Samaniego by Olivares Samaniego, 2008, "Interview no. 1360," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.