Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Natividad Cano was born on December 25, 1947, in Sasabe, Sonora, México; she was the eldest of her eight siblings; her father, Alberto Valenzuela, worked with the bracero program, as did her grandfather and uncle; in México, she was formally educated through the sixth grade, but upon emigrating to the United States, she continued her education and even went to college; she went on to become a community organizer and activist for braceros in Tucson, Arizona.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Cano very vividly describes her family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, and what her childhood was like; her father, Alberto Valenzuela, worked for a rancher in México, and they often came to the United States to sell livestock; the rancher knew people who worked for the bracero program, and he recommended Alberto; in 1943, he traveled by train to Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, to enlist in the program, and he took his ID, birth certificate, and letters of recommendation with him; he worked primarily in southern Arizona with livestock, and he sent money home as often as he could; upon finishing his assigned duties, he was often sent to work with another rancher; he returned home to renew his contract roughly every two years; while he was gone, Natividad and her family stayed with her maternal grandparents; her mother would get very depressed whenever he was gone, especially because there was very little if any contact with him; in 1953, he emigrated to the United States, and he later brought the rest of his family; as a daughter, grand-daughter, and niece of braceros, she went on to become a community organizer and activist in Tucson, Arizona; Natividad has heard several stories about braceros being humiliated during medical exams; furthermore, they were often treated like second class citizens or as less than human; although she believes the program started with good intentions, the end results proved to be quite different; the United States benefited much more than the braceros ever did, and any advantages they did obtain were never long lasting; more than forty years later, they are still waiting for the money that is owed to them.
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Interview with Natividad Cano by Anais Acosta, 2008, "Interview no. 1337," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.
Interview in Spanish.