Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Guadalupe García was born in La Concha, Sinaloa, México; he was the second eldest of his eleven brothers and three sisters; his parents worked in agriculture and with cattle; he was formally educated through the third grade, but he left school in order to help his family work the land; for a time he was an undocumented worker in California, but he was later able to obtain proper documentation under the bracero program; as a bracero, he continued working throughout California picking celery, lettuce, and tomato, and he also operated heavy machinery, including a Caterpillar; he was ultimately able to emigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. García briefly describes his family; as a child, he recalls hearing about braceros and seeing them pass him by in trains; for a time, he was an undocumented worker in California; in 1953, farmers were fined for hiring such employees, and as a result he was let go; upon returning to México, he began the contracting process for the bracero program in Mexicali, Baja California; he goes on to detail the required documentation, the different contracting centers he went through, the extraordinarily long waiting times, and the thousands of men vying for contracts; in addition, he explains how the medical exams grew more stringent over time and how during the delousing process many men would vomit from the smell; he goes on to describe his various worksites, duties, housing, provisions, payment, treatment, remittances, and recreational activities; moreover, he relates how he was able to buy a car and obtain a driver’s license; although he did have some good employers, the foremen were often mean and mistreated the braceros; he even organized a strike once due to insufficient payment; even so, his memories of having worked as a bracero are positive; he was ultimately able to emigrate to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Guadalupe Garcia by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1169," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.