Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Carmen Velazquez was born on a small ranch in Las Jaritas, in the municipality of Lagos de Moreno, México; she has six siblings, and her parents owned livestock and worked in agriculture; her father hired a tutor for the children, which only lasted a short while; when she was sixteen years old, she married José Bartolo Velázquez, who enlisted in the bracero program.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Velazquez briefly describes her childhood and family; she recalls being young and naïve enough to believe that coming to the United States guaranteed money; when she was sixteen years old, she married José Bartolo Velázquez; shortly after their nuptials, he went to Empalme, Sonora, México, to enlist in the bracero program; while he was away, she and her ten children lived with her father; she remembers not having enough money for cloth diapers, having to tear up whatever clothes she could find, and constantly washing; what little money he did manage to send she used to buy necessities for the children; they were eventually able to save up enough money to buy a small home, which she lent to a friend while she lived with her father; it was difficult for her to care for so many children alone; she recalls going with them to visit an uncle; he told them all to go home early, because they were too unruly and too much to handle; even so, her children helped when they could; she relates one instance when her son went into the city alone to sell paletas, and he did not return until very late, which worried her greatly; much to her surprise, he came home with beans, tortillas, tomatoes, and chiles for the family to eat; she also helped support the family by ironing and washing, but because she washed by hand her fingers often bled; her husband would write letters home, and she would have her sister respond, because she did not know how to write; she concludes by stating that she and her family suffered greatly in her husband’s absence.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Carmen Velazquez by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1184," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.