Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Luis Guzmán was born August 25, 1939, in Santa María del Oro, Durango, México; he and his nine siblings grew up on a ranch with their parents, and he helped his father work in the fields while going to school; in 1956, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, picking beets and cotton; he continued working on and off with the program until 1962; later, in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he brought the rest of his family with him in 1976.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Guzmán briefly discusses his family, childhood, and adolescence; in 1956, he enlisted in the bracero program at a contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, and he later went through a center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; as part of the hiring process, he had to have a letter of recommendation from a judge or authority stating that he was a good worker; in addition, he was physically examined, and he had to give blood samples as well; as a bracero, he worked in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, picking beets and cotton; he goes on to describe the various worksites, a typical work day, housing, living amenities, provisions, payment, and recreational activities; overall, he was treated well by his employers; he spent his longest time working in Pecos, Texas, on a small farm with about thirty to forty workers; although he was never in need of medical treatment, he knew of others who were taken to see a doctor by the foreman; moreover, he states that he kept in contact with his family via letters, and he sent money home every eight to fifteen days; he continued working on and off with the program until 1962; later, in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately brought the rest of his family with him in 1976; his memories of the program are positive, and he is proud of having worked as a bracero; he concludes by commenting that his experiences ultimately changed his life, because they are what made him decide to permanently live in the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Luis Guzmán by Nancy Villafranca, 2005, "Interview no. 1272," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.