historia oral

For my oral history project, I interviewed my mother, Angela Ortiz. She was born in the Dominican Republic and has travelled to many countries in Latin America. Our conservation focused on development in her home community in Bani, looking back at her childhood and how the community has evolved since then. The interview was conducted in Spanish, though the questions were asked in English. I translated especially interesting parts of the interview for you to read below, or listen in!

Below you can find an audio recording of our conversation.


Q: What is your relationship to Latin America?

A: (Translation and summary) Well, I’m from Dominican Republic, from a place called Bani in the southern coast of the country. The pueblo is very beautiful and it’s full of hard workers. During my childhood, agriculture was very limited, and the land was dry. However, it has evolved since then and now there is better quality of life and better agriculture opportunities el campo.


Q: How did most the people carry out a livelihood during your childhood when there was not a lot of agriculture?

A: It was very hard to live. Agriculture was what sustained people daily. So people had to leave to other campos to look for work. Most worked in “Zonas Francas” (industrial zones) where they fabricated clothes for export in Europe and the US. It was a good alternative.


Q: How is the place where your from now (economically)? Is it still a poor community?

A: I wouldn’t say that it is poor, I would say that it is stable. Agriculture is good now, and the industrial opportunities help a lot of families. Three or four family members will all work in manufacturing and it would provide enough money for subsistence and education costs.


Q: How has immigration changed the community?

A: It has changed drastically. One of the reasons being that it has brought better economic opportunities. People immigrate for better jobs. In the end, agricultural and manufacturing jobs do not give families enough money, and they are still struggling, living day-by-day. Coming here (to America) has given people extra income to send back home and help their family financially. I left because I did not see any opportunities for me in Dominican Republic, and it was a good decision for me since I can support my family now.


Q: What advice would you give to [Nicaraguans] who can not immigrate to the US (with regards to helping their financial situations)?

A: I would say to try to educate themselves and become a professional to find a good paying job. Working in agriculture is also a good option.

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