Jesus Vela and Cesar Sarmiento

Jesus Vela and Cesar Sarmiento both came to Crisfield from Durango, Mexico to work in the oyster and crab industry in Maryland. In their interview, Vela discusses the desperate economic situation and lack of work in his village in Mexico that led him to pay a labor contractor to secure work for him in the US. He explains that he didn’t know where or what he would be doing, but he had to take the risk. Sarmiento recounts a similar story. Both men recall their long four-day journey by bus from Mexico, and the language barriers that added to the confusion of changing multiple buses along the way.

Vela discusses his life in Crisfield, the Hispanic community in Marion, and experiencing racial harassment by the police. Both men talk about their dream of one day owning their own home, Vela in the US and Sarmiento back in Mexico where he has land. They explain they have little time for distractions as they both work every day at two jobs. Their primary focus is to work as much as possible to save and send money home to their families.

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Jesus Vela and Cesar Sarmiento being interviewed for the Crisfield Traditions in Time Project, 2003, Nabb Research Center, Crisfield Traditions in Time Collection (2004.007)

From Durango to Crisfield in Search of a Dream
Jesus Vela and Cesar Sarmiento