Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Liborio Santiago was born on June 23, 1924, in Etla, Oaxaca, México; he was the oldest of three brothers; at age of twelve, he became an orphan, and was adopted by an aunt; there, he was forced to work in the family bakery; in 1944, he joined the Bracero Program; he worked in California, Idaho, and Texas picking cotton, lettuce, onions, and sugar beets.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Santiago recalls growing up in Etla, Oaxaca, México, and being adopted by an aunt after his parents died; he remembers being forced to work in his aunt’s bakery; in 1944, he joined the Bracero Program; he states that he worked in California, Idaho, and Texas picking cotton, lettuce, onions, and sugar beets; additionally, he explains how he heard about the program, what the hiring process was like, and what he experienced at the contracting centers in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México and Empalme, Sonora, México; he recounts the physical exams he endured, and the long train trip he had to take to El Paso, Texas and California; furthermore, he describes what daily life was like on the farms, the housing and food they had, and how they were treated by foremen; he details what different contracts he had, and what he had to do when his contract expired; moreover, he discusses what braceros did during weekends, and how they sent money back to México; he also recounts the complaints braceros had, their concerns about World War II, how they listened to the radio together for news, and the import contribution they made to the United States war effort; to conclude, he presents what the benefits of being a bracero were, and how it helped him and his family have a better life.
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Interview with Liborio Santiago Pérez by Violeta Domínguez, 2002, "Interview no. 1043," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.