Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Eduardo Saldaña was born in México City, Guanajuanto México on October 13, 1920. Both his parents lived until the age of a 105 and died in México. Eduardo’s parents worked in agriculture. He had three brothers and one sister who lived past the age of 90. He became a bracero in 1943. Eduardo is married and has one son and one daughter.
Summary of Interview
Eduardo was born in a town (rancho) called Ojos de Agua, located within the Greater México City urban area, in 1920. From the age of five, Eduardo worked with him father, brothers and uncles sowing and plowing in México. When he was 16, he moved to México City. In 1943 after hearing about the Bracero Program in a national ad, Eduardo took a chance to make more money and have a better opportunity through the program. Eduardo and one of his brothers came to the United States via train and were provided food during their travel, courtesy of their new employer. Everything was in order during the trip to the United States and for Eduardo everything was good and in order here in the United States as well. During the reception part of the process, their clothes were taken away and replaced with new clothes and the new braceros were able to wash up in showers provided for them; showers that according to Eduardo were very elegant. He earned $0.50 cents per hour, for a nine hour day, in cash. Eduardo and his brother were provided with a place to sleep as well as meals and if they were out and about with the employer and it came time to eat, the employer would pay for the meals. In addition, they were provided with medical insurance as per their contract with their employer. Eduardo and his brother worked for one employer who treated them very well. The employer, according to Eduardo, treated them like family, provided well for them, ate meals with them and greatly respected the wishes of the workers. Eduardo is very thankful for this employer and feels that due to the generosity of his employer, Eduardo was able to be more successful. Eduardo sent money to his parents as often as he could, while at the same time saving money as well. Since he was hired to work for a certain salary, Eduardo did not earn more than what he was contracted for. However, he states that he was never cheated out of the correct amount of earnings and 10% was deducted from their earnings and deposited in the National Bank in México. Eduardo and his brother were always together and were able to come and go as they pleased. Eduardo worked in the Bracero Program for three years. After those three years, he and his brother returned to México to reclaim the 10% that removed from their earnings. Eduardo returned to the United States illegally. He eventually met and married a woman who was a citizen of the United States and together they worked on Eduardo becoming a legalized citizen of the United States. Prior to working in the program, Eduardo never considered going north to the United States, however, he is thankful to God that he was able to come to the United States to work and be successful. Eduardo was very successful in the United States and through his hard work he was able to purchase several properties. Eduardo is very grateful to the United States and to God, who he feels rescued him from everything.
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Interview with Eduardo Saldaña by Kim Sebril, 2008, "Interview no. 1420," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.