Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesús García was born on July 18, 1941, in Culiacán, Sinaloa, México; he had eight siblings, and his parents worked in agriculture; by the time he was seven years old, he was planting tomatoes; when he was roughly fourteen years old, he moved to Bácum, Sonora, México.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García briefly recounts his childhood; when he was roughly fourteen years old, he moved to Bácum, Sonora, México, which was where he learned about the bracero program; several men picked cotton there in order to obtain papers for the workers’ lists in Empalme, Sonora; consequently, he did the same, and he details the process he underwent while there, including the humiliation of being stripped and medically examined; after that, he and other braceros were given lunch and transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, México; as they were about to arrive, the train slowed, and people offered them milk so that their X-rays would show up clean and white; he comments that people risked severe diarrhea in doing so, because oftentimes, they did not know any better; as a bracero, he worked throughout California picking various fruits and vegetables; he earned 15¢ for each box of tomatoes, which meant that he had to pick at least one hundred boxes just to break even and more than that if he wanted to save money; he also describes the great difficulty of working in the lettuce fields, because he had to be hunched over all day, and of keeping up with the trailers when picking cantaloupe; moreover, he goes on to explain the different worksites, duties, daily routines, living arrangements, provisions, and recreational activities; with the money he earned as a bracero, he was able to build a home and open a store in México; during the 70s and 80s, he returned to the United States for seasonal work; he was eventually able to become a citizen, and he immediately registered to vote, which he considers to be of vital importance; he concludes by stating that braceros were agricultural soldiers whose contributions were of crucial significance to the United States, in spite of the fact that they often go unnoticed.
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Interview with Jesús García Estrada by Cristóbal Borges, 2008, "Interview no. 1345," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.