Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Saturnino González was born on November 25, 1943, in Tequisquiapan, Querétaro, México; he was raised with his eleven siblings; his father was an artisan, and although he learned the trade, he did not like it; he was formally educated through the sixth grade, and he ultimately obtained a secure job with the federal electricity commission in México; when he was nineteen, he enlisted in the bracero program where he worked throughout California picking lemons and strawberries; in 1972, he was able to emigrate to the United States, and he was ultimately able to bring the rest of his family with him.
Summary of Interview
Mr. González briefly recalls his family and childhood; he remembers hearing stories about his dad working in the United States, which made him want to do the same; as a young man he acquired a secure job with the federal electricity commission in México, mounting high tension cables; when he was nineteen he heard about a call for braceros, and he decided to quit his job for the chance to work in the United States; he traveled to the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, México, but he ended up being in debt before ever obtaining a contract; moreover, he details the harsh conditions he and other men endured while waiting there; in addition, he talks about how painful the physical exams were and how rudely they were conducted; as a bracero he worked throughout California picking lemons and strawberries; he goes on to describe the various worksites, duties, contract renewals, living conditions, provisions, payment, treatment, remittances, and recreational activities; oftentimes he served as a kind of leader for the other men, because he looked out for them and made sure no one took advantage of them; while working in Aromas, California, the crop was ruined by rain, but instead of returning to México, he deserted and sought work elsewhere; he initially went to Salinas, California, but he eventually made his way to Chicago, Illinois, where he found more permanent work; later, in 1972, he was able to legally emigrate to the United States, and he eventually brought the rest of his family with him.
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Interview with Saturnino González Díaz by Magdalena Mieri, 2005, "Interview no. 1271," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.