Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Margarita Saldivar was born in México, Distrito Federal; she is the eldest of her eight siblings; before her parents were married and she was born, her father, Francisco Leopoldo Saldívar, enlisted in the bracero program; he labored in the fields from 1944 to 1949; Margarita and all her siblings were formally educated, and most went on to have professional careers; she did not finish her schooling at the university, because she came to the United States with her husband.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Saldivar briefly mentions her family and childhood; what she remembers most is her father, Francisco Leopoldo Saldívar, always talking to her about the United States and how it was a completely different country where people lived very well; he frequently spoke of the relationships he formed and how he felt free; on weekends he would make pancakes and bacon, because he missed the food so much; although he worked a lot, he enjoyed his time in the United States and longed to return, but he never had the opportunity; he enlisted when he was eighteen years old and regularly sent money home to his mother; oftentimes, he and other braceros were rejected by townspeople, because they were thought to have taken away their jobs; moreover, the language barrier and even the color of their skin proved to be problematic, because they were frequently refused service in stores or simply not allowed to enter certain places; when he returned to México he was able to open a small store with the money he saved; through her father, she was able to see the bracero program as something positive, because people were able to save money; even so, she thinks it was a bit different for those who decided to stay; she ultimately learned to see the United States as a place of opportunity and freedom, which is in great part why she decided to immigrate to this country with her husband; upon final reflection, she states that the program affected families the most, especially wives, because it is Mexican custom for women not to work; as a result, they had no choice but to wait for money to survive, which is much the same case even today.
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Interview with Margarita Saldivar by Araceli Esparza, 2006, "Interview no. 1182," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.