Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Cándido Alarcón was born on February 10, 1940, in Chichihualco, Guerrero, México; his parents worked in agriculture, and he had seven siblings; he finished the equivalent of elementary school in México, and shortly thereafter he began helping his father till the land; in his late twenties he decided to enlist in the bracero program, but he only obtained one forty-five day contract to work in the lettuce fields of Salinas, California; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Alarcón very briefly discusses his family and childhood; he learned about the bracero program through his friends; when he was roughly twenty-six years old, he decided to join the program in order to give his wife and daughter a better life; he explains that each town had a raffle to see who would travel to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, in order to enlist; from there he traveled to Calexico, California, where he was stripped naked and medically examined before being deloused; he describes the process as humiliating, because he was treated like an animal; moreover, he and the other men had to wait to be chosen by ranchers before they could go to work; he was ultimately able to obtain a forty-five day contract to work in the lettuce fields of Salinas, California; at first, he had a hard time learning how to do the work, but he soon found some friends to help him; he goes on to detail his various duties, living conditions, provisions, treatment, payment, and remittances; in addition, he mentions that another rancher would stop by to ask if any of the men wanted extra work; on Saturdays and Sundays, his days off, he worked for this rancher picking nuts for about five hours a day; upon completing his contract he was transported by train to the border, and from there he had to pay his own way to return to México; he later returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he eventually returned to México, where he tilled the land that his parents left him; in the late nineties, he and his family immigrated to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Cándido Alarcón by Ivonne Méndez, 2008, "Interview no. 1329," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.