Santiago Navarro


Violeta Mena


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Mr. Santiago Navarro was born on June 30, 1928, in Martin Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico; he was the youngest of eight children; as a young boy, he helped his family by working in the fields and caring for animals; he was formally educated through the third grade; in 1948 he became a bracero and worked in the lettuce, tomato and palm fields of Merced, Salinas, and Indio, California; later he married and had six children; he returned to Mexicali, Mexico and later immigrated to the United States.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Navarro briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his family endured; he talks about his hometown and what his life was like growing up; when he was eighteen years old there was a drawing for the military but he was not selected; he briefly details working with his brother (1946-48); it was there that he heard about a call for braceros; he recalls the process, including lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation; he went through the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; upon being hired, he was sent to a processing center in El Centro, California; he was given an injection at the camp which made him very ill; he worked in the tomato fields of Salinas, California; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, treatment, and friendships; he recalls that the braceros were told to remain hunched over while working in the tomato fields; he discusses working in the Palm fields in Indio, California; Mr. Navarro recalls that government officials would inspect the safety equipment; he discusses an accident in which his friend fell and broke his back; Mr. Navarro would visit his family in Mexicali every eight days and he would also telephone often; while at one of the camps, Mr. Navarro and the other braceros were suddenly told to board a bus headed back toward the Mexican border; they were told that the Mexican government did not want them to re-contract; with the help of his boss he and his family immigrated to the United States; his overall memories of the bracero program are positive.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

55 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1305

Transcript Number

No. 1305

Length of Transcript

36 pages

Interview Number

No. 1305

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.