Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Maria Andres Ramires, was a daughter of a bracero and was born on Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico on August 22, 1953. Her parents were Firilo Andres Vázquez, a peasant, and Tomasa Ramires Santiago, a housewife.
Summary of Interview
She recalls her father travelled to the U.S. several times as a bracero to harvest cotton, strawberries, and tomatoes, and returned immediately after his contract was over. She remembers that she attended up to second grade in school, since she did not have time to do homework because she was the one that helped her mother gathering wood so her mother could make tortillas and sell them to people in town that had helpers at their houses. Both of her parents did not go to school since they never had time to attend. Her mother contributed to the family income also by selling onions during the Sunday market in their town and her older sisters also worked taking care of children of some of their relatives. María Andrés Ramíres mentions that her father did not earn that much money when he went to work to the U.S. and recounts that he sent between $50.00 and $70.00 dollars a month, and that her mother had the impression that it was not worth it for this kind of money. She explains that her mother continued to work while her father was in and out of the country and that the money that her father made in the U.S. allowed him to plant corn on his own land and feed his animals like sheep, pigs, and chickens allowing them to always have food on their table. She comments that it was common that neighbors had somehow the same family dynamic, that is, the women worked while their husbands went to the harvest in the U.S. allowing them to have some money and buy a property. She also recalls that it was common that her uncles went together to work at this activity up north and communicated among themselves so they knew when hiring opportunities were available, and that they also went together to work to several places when the harvest ended and they returned to Mexico to their hometowns to work as peasants. María Andrés Ramíres remembers details about her father returning to Mexico to work on his land and at other people’s land and that one time he worked in the highway installing light poles that brought this service to her town. To conclude, she discusses several issues like the kind of communication her mother and father had while he was in the U.S.; the things her father used to bring to them when he came back to Mexico; the time his father stopped going to the U.S.; the experiences that people of her hometown talked about the Bracero Program; when she got married and eventually came to live to Los Angeles with her daughters and how her father disagreed with her about this decision since he had another impression about crossing the border and living in the U.S.; and her thoughts about how the Bracero Program had an impact on her life.
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Jaime R. Ruiz
Interview with Maria Andres Ramires by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1658," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.