Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Audmaro G. Zepeda was born on May 10, 1933, in Jalisco, México; as the second of thirteen siblings he only went to school through the third grade; when he was nine years old, he began working in the fields; his uncles were braceros, and so he decided to follow in their footsteps; he worked with the Bracero Program on and off from 1957 to 1961; as a bracero, he worked throughout California, picking beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chile, and cotton.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Zepeda recalls his childhood and adolescence; because his uncles had worked as braceros, he knew that would be his one chance for a better future; in 1957, he began the hiring process by paying $300.00 to go on the county’s list of eligible workers; he then went to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, and he was sent by train to Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, where he was medically examined and deloused; as a bracero, he worked throughout California, picking beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, chile, and cotton; when he worked in Salinas, California, there were between 400 and 600 workers; they had to wake up at 3:00 am just to eat breakfast; he usually worked seven days a week, and rarely had Sundays off; while working in the fields he often spent the entire day hunched over, and was yelled at and got in trouble for standing up; he goes on to describe the overall working and living conditions, methods of payment, his daily routine, the food, and what he did when he was not working; although there were often strikes in the camps due to complaints about salary and working hours, he avoided them at all costs; each time his contract ended, he returned to México, and he had to pay for his name to go on a new list for another contract; he concludes that he was proud to have been a bracero and considers the United States his second home.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Audmaro G. Zepeda by Mireya Loza, 2005, "Interview no. 1105," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.