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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Interviews With Farm Workers In The Rio Grande Valley Of Texas
Program #

Linda Fregoso
Alfredo De Avila, John Gonzales, Josefina Castillo
Mar 20, 1981

Interviews with farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas

Host Linda Fregoso speaks with John Gonzalez, Alfredo de Avila and Josefina Castillo about their efforts to organize farm workers, demand better working conditions and increase wages. Fregoso first interviews Gonzalez, an eighteen-year-old organizer who has been working the fields since he was twelve. Gonzalez explains why he had to work at such an early age and talks about the difficult working conditions under which he labored. He also speaks about the health effects of pesticide exposure and the deteriorating health of his little brother who was exposed to pesticides when a plane sprayed a field near where the little boy was waiting for his family.

De Avila, an organizer with the Texas Farm Workers Union (TFWU), says that as many as 100,000 children under the age of 12 are employed in agriculture. He explains that child labor is a necessity for farm worker families who simply cannot survive on the wages of one or two farm workers. The income for farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley is between $1,500 to $3,600 a year.

Fregoso then speaks with Castillo, a TFWU organizer who has worked in the fields since she was ten. Castillo discusses the exploitative conditions of the citrus industry: the low wages, hazardous conditions and short workdays. De Avila explains that because of the labor surplus in the Valley, many citrus workers only work 3-4 hours a day, and he discusses how the TFWU will try to resolve that issue. De Avila also discusses their current boycott against the citrus industry and the difficulties they have encountered as they sought to organize citrus workers.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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