Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mario P. Beltran was born August 9, 1933, in Cabrera de Limones, in the municipality of Sinaloa, in the state of Sinaloa, México; his parents worked in agriculture; he had twelve siblings and fifteen half-siblings; his formal education extended through the third grade; in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California, picking asparagus, cotton, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes until 1957; in 1963, he was married, and he and his wife went on to have two sons and two daughters; with the help of his employer, he was ultimately able to arrange legal status for himself and his entire family.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Beltran talks about his family and hometown; he and his older brother had to work to support their family, because their father was too old to work; in 1954, his economic situation led to his decision to enlist in the bracero program; he describes the entire process he underwent in Mexicali, Baja California, México, including medical exams, delousing procedures and extremely long waiting lines; from there he was transported to El Centro, California, where some men had to wait up to five days before getting chosen to work; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California, picking asparagus, cotton, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes until 1957; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, duties, routines, treatment, working relationships, payments, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates several anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero, including being accused of cheating with the wife of a rancher; in 1963, he was married, and he and his wife went on to have two sons and two daughters; with the help of his employer, he was ultimately able to arrange legal status for himself and his entire family; overall, he has positive memories of the program, because it gave him the opportunity to work, obtain legal documentation and have a better life in general.
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Interview with Mario P. Beltran by Adriana Sandoval, 2006, "Interview no. 1207," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.