Efraín de Santos
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Samuel Pérez was born in Indaparapeo, Michoacán, México, but he was raised in Morelia, Michoacán; he had seven sisters and four brothers; early on, his father worked as a civil judge, but he later became a teacher; consequently, because he was a teacher, the family moved around a lot; as a boy, Samuel worked at a movie theater selling popcorn; his aunt helped support the family as well, and when she died he had to take on more responsibility; during the midfifties, when he was nineteen years old, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in the fields, picking, weighing, irrigating and driving a tractor, as well as caring for livestock and other ranch duties; he later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Pérez talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; during the midfifties, when he was nineteen years old, he worked delivering Pepsi, and a customer gave him the necessary documents to enlist in the bracero program; he traveled to Irapuato, Guanajuato, México to begin the contracting process, and he describes the requirements and entire process, including medical exams; as a bracero, he worked in the fields, picking, weighing, irrigating and driving a tractor, as well as caring for livestock and other ranch duties; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, friendships, contract lengths and renewals and recreational activities, including trips into town and religious services; in addition, he recalls being transported to Friona, Texas in a trailer used for livestock; it was covered with canvas, and it was extremely cold; he was advanced five dollars to buy food, but what he bought did not even last him through the week; soon after arriving, he became ill and could not pick crops; instead, he began weighing and was paid the same as whomever picked the most; he also recounts a number of anecdotes from his experiences; moreover, he relates his life after the program and how he later immigrated to the United States; he was also able to bring his wife with him, and they had eleven children; during the early 1990s, he became a US citizen.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Samuel Pérez by Efraín de Santos, 2008, "Interview no. 1417," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.