Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Rodolfo Balderrama is from Satevó Chihuahua, México. He entered the Bracero Program in 1949 and worked in various parts of the United States until 1955. He worked along-side his brother for a few years while in the Bracero Program and looks back fondly on the experience.
Summary of Interview
Rodolfo Balderrama had some ranches in Satevó Chihuahua, México. He heard of the Bracero Program from a few ranch hands who had worked in the program. Coupled with curiosity and poverty, Rodolfo decided to try the program for himself. He experienced the lengthy entrance portion of the Bracero Program where his hands were closely examined for callouses, nicks and cuts; signs that proved he worked on a ranch/farm. Rodolfo was given x-rays to determine if he had tuberculosis and was searched in his head for lice. He traveled to many cities around the United States while working for the Bracero Program and was often without adequate water to drink and clean with while staying in the work camps. Rodolfo picked cotton, beets, and other agriculture in cities such as, El Paso, Dell City, Lovington NM, and Fort Lupton Colorado. Rodolfo was also registered for military service, but was unable to serve due to having a flat foot. After six years of working within the Bracero Program, Rodolfo applied for citizenship of the United States and was admitted. Although he does not mention a wife, Rodolfo does make mention of a son named Hector and a daughter whose name was not revealed. Rodolfo feels proud of the work he did while in the Bracero Program. He acknowledges that the work he performed is not the typical work a person might want to do, but the work abled him to help his brother work and provide for his immediate family in ways that he would not have been able to do if it were not for the Bracero Program. Even though he feels pride about the time he spent working hard in the Bracero Program, Rodolfo also acknowledges that he witnessed a lot of sadness as well while working in the Bracero Program.
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Interview with Rodolfo Balderrama by José Medina, 2008, "Interview no. 1399," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.
Interview in Spanish.