Verónica Cortez and Rochelle Garza
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Leocadio Marquez was born December 9, 1933, in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, México; he had two brothers, but they died; although he was never formally educated, his uncle taught him how to read and write; as an only child, he wandered around and traveled a lot; in 1953, he worked in the United States without proper documentation, for a time; in 1957, he married; two years later, in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in the fields of California with several different crops; he and his wife went on to have seven children, five boys and two girls; one of their sons later immigrated to the United States and became a citizen, and he helped them immigrate as well.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Marquez talks about his family and childhood; he recounts several stories about his life in México; in 1957, he married, and he and his wife had three children soon after; two years later, in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program and went though the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he describes the process he endured, including medical exams and generally being treated worse than an animal in México and the United States; as a bracero, he worked in the fields of California with several different crops, and he completed two eight month contracts; he goes on to detail the worksites, camp sizes, duties, routines, treatment, provisions, payments, deductions, recreational activities and contract lengths and renewals; while he was gone, his wife and children stayed in Sonora, México, just outside of Baja California, México; when he was working in Palm Desert, California, as a palmero, he fell and was seriously injured; he was taken to the hospital and afterward to the bracero association to fully recover; in addition, he describes another accident in which a bracero lost his arm and was rumored to have received a large cash settlement; Eucadio also recounts other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero; he and his wife went on to have four more children, five boys and two girls in total; one of their sons later immigrated to the United States and became a citizen, and he helped them immigrate as well; overall, he has positive memories of the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Leocadio Marquez by Verónica Cortez and Rochelle Garza, 2006, "Interview no. 1228," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.