Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Catarino J. Durán was born on March 22, 1934, in Nochistlán [de Mejía], Zacatecas, México; he had eight siblings, and his eldest brother was an undocumented worker for the railroads in San Francisco, California; in 1954, he enlisted as a bracero, like his father; while in the bracero program he labored in the fields of California picking celery, tomatoes, and strawberries; he worked on and off with the program until 1962, at which point he established residency, and continued working for the same employer until 1982.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Durán briefly talks about his family and adolescence; several people in his community worked as braceros and returned home with new clothes and money, which was what he wanted for himself; in 1954, when he was twenty years old, he took a bus from his hometown to Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he enlisted in the bracero program; his first contract took him to Sacramento, California, to pick tomatoes for a cannery; later he worked in Stockton and Tracy, California; he goes on to describe how tiring it was to stay hunched over all day working in the fields; in addition, he details the various worksites, duties, housing, amenities, provisions, treatment, payment, remittances, friendships, and recreational activities; when his contract ended he returned to México; in 1957, he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, and he went to Oxnard, California, to pick strawberries; while there, members of the Mexican consul helped him renew his contract without having to return to México; at the time, his father was also working as a bracero in Coachella, California; his father was able to arrange for the two of them to work together on the same farm; in 1960, his father returned to México, and he stayed in Coachella; two years later, his employer helped him obtain legal residency; even so, he decided to stay working in the same place for the next twenty years; he concludes by stating that he has been very happy in the United States, and he is greatly indebted to this country.
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Interview with Catarino J. Durán by Mario Sifuentez, 2006, "Interview no. 1216," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.