Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Benjamin Zapata was born in Merida Ticul, Yucatán México in 1935. Benjamin has five boys and one girl and is married.
Summary of Interview
Benjamin Zapata was born in 1935 in the Yucatán. In the village that Benjamin lived, they worked in in making hats and head gear. Benjamin had friends who came into the Bracero Program and convinced him to join as well. In 1958, Benjamin decided to join the Bracero Program and he went to Empalme Sonora, México to register for the Bracero Program. From there Benjamin went to Mexicali, México and then he crossed the border and traveled to San Joaquin and Tracy, California. His first job had Benjamin picking tomatoes, that contract lasted for forty-five days. At the end of that contract, Benjamin was able to get contracted for seven more months. Benjamin worked harvesting various items such as grapes, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, almonds and cotton. In addition Benjamin also worked on a chicken farm. He worked in several different places such as Moorpark, Santa Paula, San Benito, Quesque ranch and Lever's Ranch. During his work as a bracero in the Bracero Program, Benjamin was able to visit México. In 1963 he arranged his papers to get a visa and was able to stay in the United States. In 1971 Benjamin got married and brought his wife to the United States in 1972 where they had their children and raised their family. In 1990 Benjamin became a permanent legal citizen of the United States. For Luis, the Bracero Program was a positive experience.
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Interview with Ben Zapata by Amy Taylor, 2008, "Interview no. 1423," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.