Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Sierra García was born November 8, 1927, in the municipality of Santa María Peñoles, Oaxaca, México; his parents were campesinos, and they planted beans and corn; he was formally educated for a short time, and he learned basic reading and writing skills; his family spoke the Mixtecan language, not Spanish; in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program and completed a total of three contracts; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California, picking asparagus, cotton and oranges.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Sierra talks about growing up in an extremely poor indigenous town where hardly anyone spoke Spanish; he initially learned about the bracero program through government announcements; at the time, many were afraid of being taken away to fight in the war; Antonio eventually married, and he and his wife had three children, two girls and one boy; later, in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program; he suffered greatly while going through the contracting process in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, because he had to wait for twenty days and only ate occasionally; moreover, he did not pass, and he had to go through the entire process again in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; his first contract took him to Arizona, where he picked cotton for forty-five days; in 1956, he obtained his second contract, and he went to California for six months to pick asparagus; he describes his time there as very sad; the work was especially grueling, and the workers spent the entire day hunched over; furthermore, while the men were picking, a machine followed closely behind them, virtually hitting them and causing many to get hurt; he was unable to renew his contract while there, but he did obtain a new one later that same year and worked in California picking oranges for six months; he goes on to explain that correspondence was particularly difficult, because he had to find someone to read and write in Spanish and then translate into the Mixtecan language so his parents could understand; in addition, he mentions that as a bracero,10 percent was deducted from his check every two weeks, which lead to his subsequent involvement in the Bracero PROA organization.
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Interview with Antonio Sierra García by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1454," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.