Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jaime Rivas was born January 22, 1941, on a ranch in Morelos, Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango, México; he was the second eldest of his ten siblings; his father worked in agriculture and as a bricklayer; by the time Jaime was six years old, he was already working in the fields; his older brother enlisted in the bracero program; in 1959, Jaime also joined the program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Nebraska and Texas cleaning, pruning, picking and packing alfalfa, beets and cotton; he eventually immigrated to the United States, where he later married and started a family.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Rivas briefly talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; after completing his military service in 1959, he heard about the bracero program contracting in Empalme, Sonora, México, and he went with his brother; he explains that they waited for one month to pick the cotton; they needed to obtain papers to enlist, but they did not have any more money and had to leave; they paid three hundred pesos to get on another list of available workers in Durango, and they went though the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; several thousand men were waiting and roughly seven hundred were processed daily; when they crossed into the United States, they were stripped, medically examined and deloused; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Nebraska and Texas cleaning, pruning, picking and packing alfalfa, beets and cotton; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, contract lengths and renewals, payments, remittances, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates several anecdotes about his time with the program, including surviving a three day trip to Nebraska with only a sack lunch and getting snowed in at a barracks in Texas for fifteen days; he eventually immigrated to the United States, where he later married and started a family; overall, his experiences as a bracero were positive.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jaime Rivas by Marina Kalashnikova, 2008, "Interview no. 1370," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.