Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Genaro Garza was born on a ranch in Puruándiro, Michoacán, México, on December 1, 1923; he had four brothers and two sisters; his father worked in agriculture, and his mother was a housewife; he was formally educated through the third grade; when he was fifteen years old, he began helping his father work the land; he later worked in the bracero program for four years, in California and Nevada, picking asparagus, grapes, peaches and potatoes and caring for livestock; after the program ended, he worked without documentation in the United States and suffered greatly; he was eventually able to arrange for legal status, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Garza briefly talks about his family; some of his uncles lived in the United States, and he longed to do the same; in addition, he knew of other men who had worked with the bracero program and returned with money; he did not see much of a future for himself in México and saw the program as a way to have a better life; to begin the contracting process, he traveled to México, Distrito Federal; he recounts the entire process, including the difficulties he faced, having to wait for two months and the medical exams he endured; after getting processed, he was able to go home for a week before being transported to the United States by train; he worked in the program for four years, in California and Nevada, picking asparagus, grapes, peaches and potatoes and caring for livestock; moreover, he goes on to detail the worksites, housing, living conditions, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, correspondence and recreational activities; while working in Nevada, he had to accompany his employer’s daughter when she went riding, which he absolutely hated, because he was extremely embarrassed and shy; he recalls Mexican officials often visiting the camps to ensure the men were treated well; after the program ended, he worked without documentation in the United States and suffered greatly; he was eventually able to arrange for legal status, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Genaro Garza by Danielle Healey, 2008, "Interview no. 1412," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.