Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto Garcia S. was born on May 13, 1933, in El Bueyero, Mexticacán, Jalisco, México; his mother’s name was Dominga Sánchez, and his father’s name was Cruz García; Robert had eight siblings, but two of them died; his father, Cruz, owned a small plot of land, a milpa, which he inherited from his father; consequently, Robert grew up sowing corn and beans as well as caring for animals; in 1942, Cruz enlisted in the bracero program; later, in the midfifties, Roberto followed in his father’s footsteps, and he continued working with the program until it ended in 1964; he and his family later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Garcia gives a detailed description of his parents, siblings and children; he recalls his father becoming a bracero and the difficulties he and his family faced; they had to work the land and care for the animals on their own; in addition, he describes the various tasks his mother had to perform as well; he later began working illegally in Arizona against his father’s wishes; during the midfifties he went with a coyote in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, and later to Empalme, Sonora, México, to enlist as a bracero; on average, he had to wait there for at least fifteen days; he was able to survive by working as a cook in a restaurant, and he continued doing so whenever he had to wait for a contract; as part of the processing he was stripped, which he describes as embarrassing and sad; in addition, he mentions having to pay a representative for handling the papers, as well as travel expenses; as a bracero, he worked in six different places, but he spent most of his time in the San Gabriel, California, area; he goes on to detail the camps’ living conditions, housing, accommodations, daily routines, payments, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities, including trips into town; in 1994, he and his family legally immigrated to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Roberto Garcia S. by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1150," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.