Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Lauro Rivas was born April 3, 1939, in Morelos, Durango, México; he is the oldest of his ten siblings; his father’s name is Juan Manuel Rivas, and his mother’s name is María Josefa; they worked in agriculture and cared for livestock; in 1957, when Lauro was seventeen years old, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Colorado and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, celery, cotton, lettuce and tomatoes; he completed a total of five contracts; later, he married and had two children, one boy and one girl; he eventually immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Rivas recalls hearing people talk about the bracero program when he was young; he had great illusions of coming to the United States and having a better life; in 1957, when he was seventeen years old, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he initially went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, but he was unable to obtain a contract; later that same year, he went through the center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; as part of the process, he had to present proof of military service, and he also endured medical exams, which included blood samples and delousing procedures; as a bracero, he completed a total of five contracts, and he labored in the fields of California, Colorado and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, celery, cotton, lettuce and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions and recreational activities, including trips into town; when working with beets and lettuce, he had to use the short hoe, which was extremely difficult; he was happiest while working in Oxnard, California, because he was treated very well and the weather was agreeable; he was sad to leave after only one year; he later married and had two children, one boy and one girl; eventually, he immigrated to the United States, and he describes the process he underwent to obtain legal documentation; he concludes that the bracero program changed his life for the better, because he was able to help his family.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Lauro Rivas by Maribel Treviño, 2008, "Interview no. 1371," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.