Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Lauro Rivas was born April 3, 1939, in Morelos, Durango, México; he is the oldest of his ten siblings; his father’s name is Juan Manuel Rivas, and his mother’s name is María Josefa; they worked in agriculture and cared for livestock; in 1957, when Lauro was seventeen years old, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Colorado and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, celery, cotton, lettuce and tomatoes; he completed a total of five contracts; later, he married and had two children, one boy and one girl; he eventually immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Rivas recalls hearing people talk about the bracero program when he was young; he had great illusions of coming to the United States and having a better life; in 1957, when he was seventeen years old, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he initially went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, but he was unable to obtain a contract; later that same year, he went through the center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; as part of the process, he had to present proof of military service, and he also endured medical exams, which included blood samples and delousing procedures; as a bracero, he completed a total of five contracts, and he labored in the fields of California, Colorado and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, celery, cotton, lettuce and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions and recreational activities, including trips into town; when working with beets and lettuce, he had to use the short hoe, which was extremely difficult; he was happiest while working in Oxnard, California, because he was treated very well and the weather was agreeable; he was sad to leave after only one year; he later married and had two children, one boy and one girl; eventually, he immigrated to the United States, and he describes the process he underwent to obtain legal documentation; he concludes that the bracero program changed his life for the better, because he was able to help his family.
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Interview with Lauro Rivas by Maribel Treviño, 2008, "Interview no. 1371," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.