Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gregorio Canseco was born in San Pedro Apóstol, Oaxaca, México; his parents worked in the fields, and he was the eldest of his three brothers and three sisters; instead of going to school, he worked; several of his family members served in the bracero program; in 1948, he also enlisted in the program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Texas, planting, picking and packing various crops; later, during the mid-1970s, he returned to the United States to work; his entire family eventually immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Canseco talks about several of his family members serving in the bracero program; in 1948, he also enlisted in the program out of necessity; he went through contracting centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Irapuato, Guanajuato and Empalme, Sonora, México; in Chihuahua, soldiers kept order at the center, and if the men did not follow instructions, they were beaten; they suffered greatly just to be braceros, including being stripped, medically examined and deloused; although he went to the centers with family and friends, they were inevitably separated; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, California and Texas, planting, picking and packing various crops; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, working relationships, contract lengths, friendships, correspondence, immigration raids and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he explains that it rained in Arkansas for two weeks, and they were unable to work; they were given one dollar a day to pay for their food, but it was from the previous day and had already spoiled; they had no other choice about what to eat; he offers several other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero and the various places he worked; later, in the mid-1970s, he returned to the United States to work; his entire family eventually immigrated to the United States; in spite of his sufferings, he is proud to have been a bracero.
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Interview with Gregorio Canseco by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1210," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.