Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Venustiano Machado was born December 30, 1931, in Sinaloa, México; he had eight siblings, six sisters, all of whom were older, and two brothers; when he was six years old, his father died; shortly thereafter, he began working to help support his family; consequently, he was never formally educated; his mother sold food and various other goods as well; by the time he was fifteen, he was working in the United States; later, during the early 1950s, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Santa Ana, California, picking asparagus, green beans, strawberries and tomatoes; he immigrated to the United States, where he eventually married and raised a family of four.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Machado talks about his family and the death of his father when he was a boy; by the time he was fifteen, he was working in the United States; during the early 1950s, he put himself on the list of available workers in Sinaloa, México; he describes the necessary requirements and process he underwent; moreover, he explains that he had to pay ten pesos for someone to fill out the papers, because he was illiterate; once he crossed into the United States, he was stripped and medically examined; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Santa Ana, California, picking asparagus, green beans, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, remittances, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; furthermore, he chronicles having to work seven days a week, thirteen to fourteen hours a day, when picking asparagus and strawberries so they would not spoil; despite the grueling work, he stayed with the same employer for seven years under the program and for an additional three years after obtaining his visa; he eventually married and raised a family of four; upon final reflection, he is proud to have been a bracero, because it changed his life and gave him more opportunities.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Venustiano Machado by Alejandra Valles, 2008, "Interview no. 1353," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.