Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto Almaraz Valdivia was born in Tabasco, Zacatecas, México, but raised in Villanueva, Zacatecas; his parents worked in agriculture, and he had four sisters and three brothers; he was formally schooled through the fourth grade; when he was roughly twelve years old, he began working in agriculture as well; in 1952, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking beans, beets, cotton, cucumber, grapefruits, limes, oranges, and tomatoes; he continued working with the program until 1960.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Almaraz briefly discusses his family and childhood; in 1952, he enlisted in the bracero program in Villanueva, Zacatecas, México; from there, he traveled to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he mentions the physical examinations and delousing process he underwent as part of the contracting process; from Empalme he was taken to El Centro, California, which is where the ranchers chose the workers they wanted; while there, the workers also signed their contracts, which were initially for forty days, but they could be extended for six month periods at a time, until they had completed eighteen months of work in total; as a bracero, he worked in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking beans, beets, cotton, cucumber, grapefruits, limes, oranges, and tomatoes; he goes on to discuss the various work-sites, duties, living conditions, provisions, payment methods, and recreational activities; in addition, he describes the letters he sent home to his mother and girlfriend, whom he later married in 1957; while in Oxnard, California, he became good friends with the foreman, and he eventually worked his way up to second in command; he was later able to get permission to rent a small house with other co-workers; he continued working with the program until 1960.
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Interview with Roberto Almazar Valdivia by Argelia Morales, 2005, "Interview no. 1263," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.