Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Aragón was born on May 3, 1936, in Arrazola [Santa Cruz], Xoxocotlán, Oaxaca, México; he was the youngest of his three siblings; his parents were campesinos; he was formally educated in various places, including a military school; his father served in the bracero program for a time, and he worked in Michigan; in 1956, Antonio followed in his father’s footsteps and became a bracero; he labored in the fields of California planting, cleaning, pruning, picking and packing various crops; Antonio continued working on and off with the program until it ended in 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Aragón talks about what life was like growing up, including the various schools he attended; his father joined the bracero program and worked in Michigan; the money he sent home took too long to arrive, and Antonio was forced to leave school due to lack of payment; with his military schooling, he was able to obtain a recommendation to enlist in the program in Empalme, Sonora, México; he describes the medical exams he underwent there and in the United States, including delousing procedures; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California planting, cleaning, pruning, picking and packing various crops; he goes on to chronicle the various worksites, housing, living, amenities, provisions, contract lengths and renewals, hours, duties, daily routines, treatment, payment, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; the discipline he learned while in military school helped him greatly, because he learned how to work hard and was accustomed to being away from his home and family; during one of his return trips to México, he met and married his wife; shortly thereafter, they started a family, and he stayed home for a while; when he did return on another contract, his wife and children suffered greatly without him; during his last contract in 1964, he recalls that a number of men stayed in the United States, because they knew the program was ending; Antonio ultimately returned to México and went on to have seven children with his wife; overall, he has positive and negative memories of his experiences as a bracero.
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Interview with Antonio Aragón by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1426," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.