Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Salvador Velazco was born November 8, 1919, in Atengo, Jalisco, México; in 1935, his family moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico due to financial difficulties with the family business; he initially came to the United States, in 1947, without documents, but roughly a month later, he acquired a bracero contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking and packing various crops and driving a tractor until 1960; during this time he married and began raising a family of five children, three girls and two boys; he later returned to the United States and ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Velazco talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; he recalls that at first, people were afraid of getting sent off to war if they enlisted in the bracero program; Salvador initially came to the United States, in 1947, without documents; roughly a month later, he went to the Coachella Valley Farmer’s Association (CVFA) and acquired a bracero contract; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, picking and packing various crops and driving a tractor until 1960; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, payments, remittances, treatment, friendships, contract lengths and renewals and recreational activities, including trips into town; his first contract was for three and a half months, but he ended up staying four years and four months; he also mentions the CVFA and how helpfully they were, particularly when renewing contracts; in 1951, he returned to México in order to obtain a new contract; he eventually went through centers in Guanajuato, Sonora, Querétaro and Baja California, México; moreover, he was also able to get specialized worker contracts as a tractor driver and palmero, or date picker; his largest weekly check was $77.00, but he had to work over one hundred hours; he also relates several other anecdotes about his experiences; during his time as a bracero, he married and began raising a family of five children, three girls and two boys; he later returned to the United States and ultimately became a citizen; overall, he has positive memories of the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Salvador Velazco by Verónica Cortés, 2006, "Interview no. 1254," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.