Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Antonio Chávez was born on January 17, 1928, in Canatlán, Durango, México; he was the youngest of nine siblings; his father died when he was only a year old; when he was eight years old, he began helping his family by sowing beans and corn; in 1950, he enrolled in the Bracero Program; as a bracero, he worked in Nebraska and New Mexico, harvesting and picking cotton, cucumbers, and sugar beets; he continued working with the program until 1960.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chávez briefly recalls his family and childhood; his yearning for a better life led him to enlist in the Bracero Program in 1950; he began the hiring process at a contracting center in Chihuahua, México; while there he presented legal documents, and he was interviewed and medically examined; from there, he was taken to a processing center in Ysleta, Texas; as a bracero, he worked in Nebraska and New Mexico, harvesting and picking cotton, cucumbers, and sugar beets; he describes his various jobs and how he carried them out, the hours he worked, the different types of contracts and their amendments and extensions, the methods of payment, and the corresponding tax deductions; in addition, he explains what daily life was like on the farms, including housing, trips into the towns to buy provisions, weekend outings, how he managed to send money home, and what the relationships among the braceros were like; overall, he was treated well by the farmers; he also describes his return trip to México; for him, being a bracero is something he continues to be very proud of.
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Interview with Antonio Chávez Betancourt by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 997," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.