Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Perfecta Rivas de Rodriguez was born in Valparaíso, Zacatecas, México, on December 11, 1947; her mother, Consuelo Garcia, was a housewife, and her father, Juan Rivas Bañuelo, made marble headstones for cemeteries; Perfecta is the eldest of her twelve siblings; in the mid-fifties her father enlisted in the bracero program, which financially helped her family; later, in the early seventies she immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Rivas de Rodriguez briefly discusses her family and childhood; she recalls hearing about the courtship between her mother and father; in the midfifties her father enlisted in the bracero program, which financially helped her family, and they were able to move out of her paternal grandfather’s home and into their own; she remembers that there were always notices around town to sign up for the program; the men had to stay anywhere between eight and fifteen days in Empalme, Sonora, México; while waiting some men ate banana peels or nothing at all, and they used cardboard as blankets; the fumigations they underwent were also difficult, but necessity drove them; when her father left, the entire family was sad and worried about what could happen to him; upon receiving their first letter from him they were elated and relieved; every fifteen days her father sent letters and money home; her mother cashed the money orders at local stores, because they offered a better dollar to peso ratio than the banks; at the time they were able to receive twelve pesos for every dollar, which went a long way; with this money, some of her younger siblings were even able to attend secondary schools; they were able to buy their necessities instead of having to depend on whatever the crops would yield if there was even enough rain in a given season; one of her father’s employers offered to help him and his family obtain legal documentation, but her grandfather did not want to let them leave; overall, her family benefited greatly from the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Perfecta Rivas de Rodriguez by Araceli Esparza, 2006, "Interview no. 1181," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.