Jose Natividad Alva

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Alva talks about his childhood, family, and father, who was abusive, which led him to seek a life outside of his home very early on; growing up, he worked picking cotton in various places throughout México, and this eventually led him to enlist in the bracero program; he details the process he went through to get the necessary paperwork for the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; from there, he and the other men were loaded in cargo trains, about one hundred per box car, and transported to Calexico, California; he was treated so badly that he wanted to return to México, but he had to work; while being processed in the United States, he underwent what he describes as cruel and embarrassing medical exams; he was also deloused and vaccinated; moreover, he mentions that several men became ill and feverish due to the immunizations, but they had to work, because they were only able to acquire forty-five day contracts; as a bracero, he obtained a total of three contracts to work in California and Texas, picking cantaloupes, grapefruits, green beans, lettuce, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes; he goes on to explain the various worksites, duties, daily routines, living conditions, treatment, provisions, recreational activities, and remittances; in addition, he talks about the difficulties he had with fellow workers and how hard it was to manage, because there were no mediators; after the program ended he immigrated to the United States with his wife and children; he concludes by stating that being a bracero changed his life, because it opened his eyes to a lot of new things