Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Margarita Saldivar was born in México, Distrito Federal; she is the eldest of her eight siblings; before her parents were married and she was born, her father, Francisco Leopoldo Saldívar, enlisted in the bracero program; he labored in the fields from 1944 to 1949; Margarita and all her siblings were formally educated, and most went on to have professional careers; she did not finish her schooling at the university, because she came to the United States with her husband.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Saldivar briefly mentions her family and childhood; what she remembers most is her father, Francisco Leopoldo Saldívar, always talking to her about the United States and how it was a completely different country where people lived very well; he frequently spoke of the relationships he formed and how he felt free; on weekends he would make pancakes and bacon, because he missed the food so much; although he worked a lot, he enjoyed his time in the United States and longed to return, but he never had the opportunity; he enlisted when he was eighteen years old and regularly sent money home to his mother; oftentimes, he and other braceros were rejected by townspeople, because they were thought to have taken away their jobs; moreover, the language barrier and even the color of their skin proved to be problematic, because they were frequently refused service in stores or simply not allowed to enter certain places; when he returned to México he was able to open a small store with the money he saved; through her father, she was able to see the bracero program as something positive, because people were able to save money; even so, she thinks it was a bit different for those who decided to stay; she ultimately learned to see the United States as a place of opportunity and freedom, which is in great part why she decided to immigrate to this country with her husband; upon final reflection, she states that the program affected families the most, especially wives, because it is Mexican custom for women not to work; as a result, they had no choice but to wait for money to survive, which is much the same case even today.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Margarita Saldivar by Araceli Esparza, 2006, "Interview no. 1182," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.