Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Ismael Chavira López was born on June 17, 1925, in El Belduque, Valle de Zaragoza, Chihuahua, México, but he grew up in Julimes, Chihuahua; he was the eldest of five brothers; at the age of ten, he began helping his father with agricultural tasks; in 1953, he was hired as a bracero and continued working as such until 1964; he worked in New Mexico picking cotton and irrigating the fields.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chavira briefly recounts his childhood; his first paying job was as a construction worker; in 1953, he went through the hiring process in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, to become a bracero; he chronicles the entire process, which began in a rural area of Chihuahua and ended with the medical examinations at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; in addition, he describes the various processing center facilities, the length of contracts, and the conditions under which these contracts were extended; while working as a bracero, his daily activities included irrigating and picking cotton; he describes the wages he earned, the methods of payment, and how braceros would send money home to their families in México; in addition, he goes on to detail what the farms where he worked and lived were like, what kinds of food they cooked and ate, what their hobbies were, and how they often received permission from their employers to cross the border on weekends; furthermore, he concludes that he is very proud to have participated in the Bracero Program, and that it had a huge impact not only on his family, but on him as well.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Length of Transcript
Interview with Ismael Chavira López by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1123," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.