Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Vidal Tafoya was born April 28, 1948, on a ranch in Tarengo, [Jalisco] México; his parents were campesinos, and he had six siblings; he was formally educated through the third grade; by the time he was eleven years old, he was already working in the fields; later, when he was eighteen, he enlisted in the bracero program; he completed one contract in California picking tomatoes; eventually, he married and had six children; during the late 1960s, he immigrated to the United States with his family.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Tafoya briefly talks about his family and what his life was like growing up in México; he recalls that a great flood ruined all the crops, which led to government officials giving out cards to enlist in the bracero program on several ejidos; he went to Empalme, Sonora, México, where he encountered difficulties, because he had not completed his military service; eventually, he was able to pass through to the center in Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he was examined and fumigated; he was then transported by bus to the San Joaquin Valley Association where ranchers chose the workers they wanted; as a bracero, he completed one contract in California picking tomatoes; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payment, deductions, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; at the camp, he had to work in fields that had already been picked, which did not allow him to earn very much; soon after, he followed the older men there and walked out on strike; he describes the events and difficulties that ensued and how he was transferred to a new camp; after his contract ended, he returned to México and continued working in the fields with his father; eventually, he married and had six children; during the late 1960s, he immigrated to the United States; although he felt that as a bracero, he was viewed as less by the locals, the program still afforded him the opportunity to work and provide a better life for his wife and children.
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Interview with Vidal Tafoya by Adriana Sandoval, 2006, "Interview no. 1252," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.