Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Rosa Martha Zarate was born in Guadalajara, Mexico; at an early age, she learned about activism, social justice, and worker rights from her father; she recalls constantly moving because of her father’s job with the train; her education was private and ended in primary school. At a young age she lived with her maternal grandmother who taught her about the Cristero War. At the age of nineteen she joined the convent; she taught grade school in Mecca and San Ysidro, California; she educated wealthy Mexican children, attended the private University in San Diego, she struggled with English.
Summary of Interview
She recalls crossing the border twice in Tijuana; she details her two distinct experiences with border agents. She details the racial discrimination she felt in the convent from priest and other nuns; her push for Spanish Catechism and more Spanish masses. She remembers meeting Cesar Chavez; details her first protest with him, her revolutionary idealistic music, and her involvement with the Agriculture Movement, as well as the role of chicano priest and nuns in creating a better connection with the people; she recalls being seen as the evangelical voice of the Latin American Church Movement. Rosa’s activism and music labeled her a possible communist; the church questioned her and served her expulsion papers. She continued her work aiding undocumented people with their Amnesty papers in 1985 that eventually lead her to work with braceros; she rallied braceros in Mexico and the United States, aided in forming organizations, protest, and rallies; additionally, she recalls in detail the corruption and fraud that occurred against braceros from organizers, lawyers, and the Mexican government.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Mayra L. Avila
Interview with Rosa Martha Zarate by Mireya Loza, 2011, "Interview No. 1545," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.