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Miguel Ortega Álvarez

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Miguel Ortega nació en Miacatlán, Morelos, México; su padre trabajaba en los cultivos de caña de azúcar. A los doce años él comenzó a trabajar junto a su padre, participó en el Programa Bracero desde 1957 hasta 1964; como tal, trabajó en Arizona empaquetando lechuga y en California cortando apio.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Ortega evoca su niñez en Miacatlán, Morelos, México; cuenta que cuando tenía doce años comenzó a trabajar junto a su padre en los cultivos de caña de azúcar; recuerda también que en 1957 se mudó a Empalme, Sonora, México, a fin de obtener un contrato de bracero. Se acuerda de la ayuda que recibió mientras esperaba para enlistarse en el programa y cómo fue el proceso por el que debió pasar en el centro de contratación; narra además el trayecto que realizó hasta la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México y cómo lo trataron en el centro de procesamiento de El Centro, California. Ofrece detalles sobre el proceso de desinfección al que lo sometieron, así como sobre la documentación que prepararon; luego hace un recuento de su trabajo en Arizona y en California empaquetando lechuga y cortando apio; describe cómo eran sus tareas diarias y las dificultades físicas que presentaba el trabajo. Para finalizar, reflexiona sobre cómo hubiera sido su vida de haberse quedado en Estados Unidos luego de que terminó el programa.

José Ramírez Solano

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Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: José Ramírez nació el 27 de agosto de 1939 en Tizapotla, Morelos, México; desde temprana edad comenzó a trabajar en el campo con su familia; trabajó de bracero entre 1960 y 1962 en Arizona y California, allí cosechó algodón y cortó lechuga.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Ramírez evoca sus años de crecimiento en Tizapotla, Morelos, México y su trabajo en el campo desde temprana edad; recuerda que fue a la escuela hasta tercer grado; luego relata el momento en que se enteró del Programa Bracero mediante unos hombres que habían ido a los Estados Unidos durante los primeros años del programa. En 1960 se enlistó en el programa, describe el proceso de contratación que tuvo lugar en Empalme, Sonora, México; cuenta la discriminación que sufrían los braceros en Empalme y en Estados Unidos; destaca cómo los echaban de la misa en las iglesias y cómo el cura organizaba misas en español para ellos. Trabajó de bracero en Arizona y California hasta 1962. Describe que durante este periodo cosechó algodón y cortó lechuga; detalla cómo era la vida diaria para él en los campos de braceros y en qué consistía su trabajo. Una vez que el programa se canceló, regresó Estados Unidos en 1973 como mano de obra indocumentada; explica de qué modo cruzó la frontera y el trabajo que realizó en Chicago; en 1980 volvió a México y decidió no regresar más a Estados Unidos.

José Guadalupe Verdín Arriaga

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: José Verdín nació el 26 de noviembre de 1938 en Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, México. Comenzó a trabajar en el campo junto a su padre desde temprana edad, fue a la escuela hasta quinto grado; en 1959 se enlistó en el Programa Bracero; trabajó en la cosecha de algodón en Arizona y California.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Verdín evoca su etapa de crecimiento en Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, México y el trabajo en el campo junto a su padre; recuerda que fue a la escuela hasta quinto grado. En 1959 se enlistó en el Programa Bracero y narra su experiencia durante el proceso de contratación; cuenta también que lo seleccionaron como cocinero en el campamento de braceros y detalla cómo fue su vida de bracero; también trabajó en Arizona y California cosechando algodón; se dedicó a estas actividades hasta 1967. Luego de que se canceló el Programa Bracero, regresó a los Estados Unidos como trabajador indocumentado y describe el cruce de la frontera y los trabajos que realizó en Estados Unidos; concluye contando que vive en Austin, Texas desde 1971 con su familia, gracias a que aprovechó las ventajas de la Amnistía que se ofreció en 1985.

Jesús Zamarrón Rocha

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Jesús Zamarrón nació el 23 de octubre de 1936 en San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México; recibió sólo un año de educación escolar formal. A temprana edad comenzó a trabajar en el campo con su padre; a la edad de dieciocho años trabajó en la construcción cortando piedra. En 1957 se enlistó en el Programa Bracero y como tal, trabajó en Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan y Texas en la cosecha de maíz, algodón, lechuga y fresas; realizó estas actividades hasta 1966.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Zamarrón evoca su infancia en San Luis Potosí, San Luis Potosí, México y su trabajo en el campo junto a su padre desde temprana edad; recuerda que recibió sólo un año de educación escolar formal; a la edad de dieciocho años trabajó en la construcción y explica cómo cortaba piedras; luego describe cuando lo contrataron de bracero y el viaje a Estados Unidos. Hace un recuento de sus años en el Programa Bracero desde 1957 hasta 1966, relatando cómo era la vida diaria y cómo se llevaban a cabo los trabajos; habla también sobre las relaciones entre los braceros y las celebraciones de las fiestas mexicanas en Estados Unidos; cuenta acerca de su trabajo en Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan y Texas cosechando maíz, algodón, lechuga y fresas. En 1968 regresó a Estados Unidos para trabajar como mano de obra indocumentada, continuó así hasta la década de 1990, viajando regularmente a México para visitar a su familia; luego se retiró a Austin y en el año 2000 pudo llevar a su esposa a los Estados Unidos a vivir con él.

Gregorio Flores Pérez

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Gregorio Flores nació el 12 de marzo de 1932 en Tepoztlán, Morelos, México; empezó a ayudar a su padre en las tareas del campo desde temprana edad. Recibió sólo un año de educación escolar formal; de joven trabajó en la industria de la construcción. Desde 1959 hasta 1961 trabajó de bracero en Arizona, California y Texas cosechando algodón, melones y otras frutas y vegetales.

Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Flores evoca su etapa de crecimiento en Tepoztlán, Morelos, México; cuenta que luego de recibir sólo un año de educación escolar formal, se puso a trabajar junto a su padre en las tareas del campo; recuerda también que de joven trabajó en la construcción; habla de su trabajo como bracero desde 1959 hasta 1961. Cuenta su época recolectando melones en Arizona, frutas y vegetales en California y algodón en Texas. Describe el periodo durante el cual trabajó como indocumentado en Virginia y Dallas entre 1980 y 1985; luego compara la vida que llevaba como bracero con la experiencia del trabajo como mano de obra indocumentada.

Filiberto Villaseñor Ocampo

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Filiberto Villaseñor nació el 25 de julio de 1928 en Tizapotla, Morelos, México; a los doce años comenzó a trabajar en el campo con su padre; fue bracero desde 1955 hasta 1964; cosechó algodón y tomates en California, Nebraska y Wyoming.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Villaseñor evoca su crecimiento en Tizapotla, Morelos, México. Su padre era panadero, pero él nunca tuvo interés en ese oficio, a los doce años empezó a ayudar a su padre en el campo; recuerda haber pasado una infancia con muchas dificultades económicas y habla del trabajo que tuvo que hacer de joven. Cuenta cómo se enteró acerca del Programa Bracero y cómo fue el proceso de contratación por el que debió pasar en 1955; relata también su experiencia en los centros de contratación de Empalme, Sonora, México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México y Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México. Describe cómo fue su vida mientras trabajó de bracero en California, Nebraska y Wyoming; relata que allí se dedicó a cosechar algodón y tomates hasta 1964. Una vez que se terminó el programa volvió a los Estados Unidos a trabajar como indocumentado; explica que estuvo diez años trabajando así y después regresó a México; dice que más adelante obtuvo los papeles para ingresar a Estados Unidos y que los usa para volver trabajar de vez en cuando.

Felipe Corona Franco

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Felipe Corona nació el 1º de mayo de 1922 en Mazatepec, Morelos, México; su padre falleció de asma cuando él tenía ocho años; a muy temprana edad empezó a trabajar con su madre vendiendo arroz. Más adelante se empleó de mano de obra en los campos de caña de azúcar; en 1955 se enlistó en el Programa Bracero y trabajó en la cosecha de algodón y lechuga en Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana y Texas.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Corona recuerda la muerte de su padre cuando él tenía ocho años y cómo ayudaba a su madre a vender arroz en los alrededores del pueblo de Mazatepec, Morelos, México. Cuenta que más adelante trabajó en los cultivos de caña de azúcar, se acuerda también que en 1943 lo contrataron como bracero, pero en ese momento decidió quedarse en México por temor a lo que pasaría en Estados Unidos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Relata que se enlistó nuevamente en el Programa Bracero en 1955 y describe el trato que recibió como bracero; detalla el modo en que rociaban a los braceros con pesticidas y el mal trato que recibían de los empleadores. Cuenta que trabajó en Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana y Texas cosechando algodón y lechuga; dice que después de la cancelación del programa regresó a México y se estableció en Miacatlán, Morelos; informa que durante su período de bracero envió dinero a su familia, lo cual le permitió construirse una casa.

Eleuterio Flores González

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Eleuterio Flores nació el 20 de febrero de 1935 en Miacatlán, Morelos, México; en su familia todos trabajaban en el campo y en plantaciones de caña de azúcar cerca de su pueblo natal. Debido a la carencia de educación escolar formal, aprendió a leer y a escribir de su padre; trabajó de bracero desde 1956 hasta 1963 en California y Texas.

Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Flores describe su etapa de crecimiento en Miacatlán, Morelos, México y su falta de educación escolar formal; cuenta que su padre le enseñó a leer y escribir; también se acuerda del periodo en la plantación del ingenio azucarero; además relata cómo su experiencia en la plantación lo ayudó a conseguir trabajo de bracero. Explica cómo en 1956 obtuvo permiso en su trabajo para enlistarse en el Programa Bracero; detalla el trabajo que realizó en California y Texas cosechando algodón y en la recolección de varios otros cultivos.

Bernardo Treviño Cervantes

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Bernardo Treviño nació el 2 de septiembre de 1936 en Saltillo, Coahuila, México; creció en el seno de una familia de trabajadores agrícolas. A temprana edad empezó a trabajar en el campo con su familia, trabajó de bracero hasta 1964 en Michigan y Texas en la cosecha de algodón y pepinos.


Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Treviño evoca su infancia en Saltillo, Coahuila, México y su trabajo en el campo desde pequeño; recuerda luego el proceso de contratación para convertirse en bracero en Zacatecas, Zacatecas, México y la firma de un contrato en Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; además, describe el viaje a la frontera y cómo lo rociaron con pesticida en la frontera entre Estados Unidos y México. Dice que trabajó de bracero hasta 1964 en Michigan y Texas, donde cosechó e irrigó algodón y recolectó pepinos. Detalla cómo eran sus actividades diarias y el buen trato que le dieron en los Estados Unidos; cuenta que a veces pasaba su tiempo libre del lado mexicano de la frontera; expresa su deseo de querer volver a tener la cuenta de ahorros de bracero y dice que debieran prestarle más atención a los casos de braceros; concluye diciendo que una vez que terminó el programa ya no quiso regresar a Estados Unidos.

Alberto Mendoza Torres

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Alberto Mendoza nació el 7 de septiembre de 1933 en Tizapotla, Morelos, México; su padre peleó en la Revolución Mexicana en el ejército de Emiliano Zapata; si bien heredó tierra de su padre, pasó muchos aprietos debido a sequías e inundaciones. Más adelante trabajó en una fábrica de tizas; se enlistó en el Programa Bracero en 1959 y como tal trabajó en Arizona, California y Texas.

Resumen de la Entrevista: El sr. Mendoza rememora su infancia en Tizapotla, Morelos, México y las historias de su padre, soldado del ejército de Emiliano Zapata durante la Revolución Mexicana; recuerda las dificultades que atravesó mientras trabajaba la tierra heredada de su padre y cómo sus cultivos se vieron afectados negativamente por las inclemencias del clima. Detalla además su trabajo en las fábricas y su decisión de enlistarse en el Programa Bracero; ingresó al programa en 1959; detalla el proceso de contratación en Cuernavaca, Morelos, México y cómo lo fumigaron cuando llegó a la frontera con Estados Unidos. Describe el trabajo que desempeñó en Arizona, California y Texas recolectando fresas y otros cultivos; comenta acerca de su vida en el programa y cómo se vio obligado a regresar a México cuando se enfermó por culpa de la comida que le daban en el campamento de braceros; por otra parte, dice que regresó a los Estados Unidos como trabajador indocumentado luego de la cancelación del programa. Concluye expresando su desencanto por no haber aprovechado mejor todas las oportunidades que ofrecía el programa y por no haber ahorrado más dinero.

Jesse Treviño

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Jesse Treviño was born on December 25, 1925, in Harlingen, Texas; he was employed by the Department of Labor as a compliance officer; his office was in San Benito, Texas, but he also went to the bracero processing center in Harlingen, Texas, on a regular basis; he later worked for an insurance company that catered to the bracero community.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Treviño recalls being employed by the Department of Labor as a compliance officer; his office was in San Benito, Texas, but he also went to the bracero processing center in Harlingen, Texas, on a regular basis; as a compliance officer, he ensured that the contracts between farmers and braceros were adhered to while working on behalf of the farmers; on average, it cost between seven and eleven dollars to process each worker, and the farmers had to pay them at least minimum wage or adequately based on the weight of cotton they picked; in addition, the farmers were required to provide medical and life insurance, clean beds, transportation, utensils with which to cook, and other such things; he goes on to describe how he often worked closely with members of the Mexican consulate, who worked on behalf of the braceros, to investigate cases; together, they were able to handle cases quickly and easily; while working as a compliance officer, he was discriminated against, and he was continually passed over for raises and promotions even though he was the only one with a college degree; in light of this, he left his job there, and began working with an insurance company that catered to the bracero community; there were a number of braceros who died due to sunstroke, and the company had to pay the families several thousands of dollars in compensation; he goes on to describe other experiences he had while working with the company.

Aida Bareda Torres

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Aida Bareda Torres was born on July 31, 1934, and her sister, Tula Bareda Sánchez, was born on December 1, 1935; they were both born in Mission, Texas; their father worked as a local doctor, and coincidentally delivered Aida; during the 1950s, both girls began working as typists, during the summers, at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Aida and Tula recall their time working as typists at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas, during the 1950s; they initially learned about the job through word of mouth; upon being hired, they were contracted with the federal government, and given government classifications; although there were different shifts because the center was open twenty-four hours a day, they worked the morning shift, which lasted eight hours; the girls were allowed to take brakes, and they often brought a sack lunch; the braceros were brought into the center, which was a huge warehouse, and they were taken into holding rooms; they were then brought into a big hall and grouped according to where they came from so that they could stand in line and wait for their information to be taken at the screening station where the girls worked; the braceros would hand a paper to the girls, and they would ask basic biographical questions and type out the answers; the girls would then hand the paper back to the workers so they could take it to the next station; oftentimes, the girls would get bored of asking the same questions, and they would ask about the men’s scars or wives to break the monotony; although the girls never saw much of what happened beyond their station, they had heard about the braceros being fumigated; the girls also mention that their uncle had a store downtown, which was often frequented by braceros.

Tula Bareda Sánchez

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Aida Bareda Torres was born on July 31, 1934, and her sister, Tula Bareda Sánchez, was born on December 1, 1935; they were both born in Mission, Texas; their father worked as a local doctor, and coincidentally delivered Aida; during the 1950s, both girls began working as typists, during the summers, at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Aida and Tula recall their time working as typists at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas, during the 1950s; they initially learned about the job through word of mouth; upon being hired, they were contracted with the federal government, and given government classifications; although there were different shifts because the center was open twenty-four hours a day, they worked the morning shift, which lasted eight hours; the girls were allowed to take brakes, and they often brought a sack lunch; the braceros were brought into the center, which was a huge warehouse, and they were taken into holding rooms; they were then brought into a big hall and grouped according to where they came from so that they could stand in line and wait for their information to be taken at the screening station where the girls worked; the braceros would hand a paper to the girls, and they would ask basic biographical questions and type out the answers; the girls would then hand the paper back to the workers so they could take it to the next station; oftentimes, the girls would get bored of asking the same questions, and they would ask about the men’s scars or wives to break the monotony; although the girls never saw much of what happened beyond their station, they had heard about the braceros being fumigated; the girls also mention that their uncle had a store downtown, which was often frequented by braceros.

Carol Norquest Jr.

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Carol Norquest Jr. was born on November 27, 1934, in Edinburg, Texas; her father owned about 100 acres of farm land, and the primary crop was cotton; as a child she helped work the land, and later as an adult, she ran the farm; in the late 1940s and all through the 1950s, her father hired braceros to help with the crops.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Norquest recalls growing up as a child on her father’s farm; her family owned 100 acres of land, and they rented another 200 acres; their primary crop was cotton, but they also had carrots, citrus, corn, grain, and tomatoes; she and her siblings would help during the harvest by picking and weighing cotton; in the late 1940s and all through the 1950s, her father hired braceros to help with the crops; there was an average of five to ten workers that stayed on year round, and more during the harvesting season; her father hired a number of skilled laborers, such as irrigators and tractor drivers, on a permanent basis, and a few of them later became United States citizens; she mentions that her father had to abide by strict government standards with regard to housing, pay, and medical insurance; some of the braceros preferred going to doctors in México, and her father would drive them across the border if necessary; he would also give workers bonuses at the end of a season as an incentive for them to come back and work for him; she recalls one instance when her father did not have enough money to pay everyone the minimum wage, but the they agreed to work for him anyway; one worker reported him to government officials, but he was shunned by the bracero community for having made such a statement; she goes on to recall other specific incidents with braceros as well; overall, her family developed great relationships with the braceros, and a number of them stayed in touch with the family long after they stopped working together.

Leo Montalvo

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Leo Montalvo was born on June 9, 1943, in México; when he was nine years old, he came to the United States; he also worked in the fields for a time; during his senior year in high school, he worked as an assistant cook at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; while there, he worked in the kitchen helping to prepare meals and cleaning; he went to college and eventually graduated from law school; later, he became involved in politics, and he went on to serve two terms as mayor of McAllen, Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Montalvo recalls his senior year in high school when he worked as an assistant cook at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; his shift started after school at 3:30 and lasted until 11:30; in addition, he also worked Saturdays and Sundays; he earned a little over $1.00 an hour; the braceros were given breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the meals consisted of chicken or meat, which was prepared as carne guisada, picadillo, or papas con carne picada, beans, powdered potatoes, bread, milk or an orange drink, and fresh fruit; anywhere between 200 and 300 people would eat at once, depending on the time of day; breakfast was served between 7:00 and 7:30, and dinner was served between 5:30 and 6:00; the braceros were always allowed a second serving if they so desired, and they were never denied more food; the mess hall was comprised of an open area with nothing but tables and up front was the counter; in order to get served a meal, the men would move in a line alongside the counter with their trays; he goes on to recall particular instances with braceros while he was in town; in addition, he comments on how and why he views the use of braceros as exploitative; in his opinion, a legal guest worker program would be beneficial insofar as it would ensure payment for the workers and provide an avenue for complaints.

Ramos Juárez, Laurentina

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Laurentina Ramos was born on August 24, 1922, in Rio Grande City, Texas; her parents were migrant workers, and she consequently went to school in Roma, Texas; in 1945, she married Benito Juárez; he owned a ranch that had been in his family for several generations; in the mid 1950s, they began hiring braceros to help with the harvesting of the cotton.


Summary of Interview: Ms. Ramos married Benito Juárez in 1945; her husband owned a ranch in Delmita, Texas, that had been in his family for several generations; although her parents were migrant workers, she did not begin ranching until shortly after getting married; she and her husband knew about the braceros because they would often come to work in the neighboring city of Edinburg, Texas; in the mid 1950s, they began hiring braceros to help during the cotton season; they would hire between eighteen and twenty workers to help with the harvesting of the cotton; Laurentina recalls that most of the workers were between the ages of twenty and forty; the braceros would stay in the old abandoned house that belonged to Benito’s parents; although there were no beds in the house, the workers were given plenty of blankets and a radio for entertainment; they would use the bathrooms and washing machines in the main house; oftentimes, the braceros were passed on to her brother-in-law, and they would help him on his ranch; she would interact with the braceros often, as she would weigh the cotton they picked; in addition, she goes on to describe what some of the braceros were like in general and specific memories she has of them.

Reynaldo Chapa

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Reynaldo Chapa was born on July 17, 1932, in Edinburg, Texas, but he was raised in Mission, Texas; in 1951, he graduated from high school; after graduating, he enlisted in the service, and he finished his tour of duty in 1955; after leaving the service, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he continued working summers there until 1957; a year later, in 1958, he graduated from the university.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Chapa remembers getting out of the service in 1955; shortly thereafter, he began going to school at the University of Texas-Pan American; that summer he started working at a bracero processing center in Hidalgo, Texas; he worked in the selection area, which is where the braceros were sent after their medical exams when they were ready to be processed; in addition, he worked with the men that were not chosen, often due to illness, and were sent back to México; his brother also worked with him at the center as a foreign labor escort; as an escort, he would cross the border along with three or four other men to pick up potential braceros in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, México, and bring them to the center in Hidalgo; upon arriving at the center, the men were searched for drugs and weapons, fingerprinted, and medically examined, which included x-rays and delousing; the braceros were primarily hired to pick cotton in the area, but sometimes they were sent to work as far away as Arkansas or Michigan; in such an event, the farmers were responsible for transporting the braceros by bus; in addition, the farmers were expected to adhere to strict regulations with regard to their treatment of the braceros; there were about 4,000 braceros processed in a day at the center, and when things slowed down, they processed about 2,000 braceros per day.

Alberto de Loera Escobar

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Alberto de Loera was born on April 16, 1940, in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, México; his father was a farmer who taught him how to work the land; he went to school only through the third grade, and from then on spent his time helping his father on the farm; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in Arizona, California, and Texas, picking beets, cotton, lemons, lettuce, and tomatoes.


Summary of Interview: Mr. De Loera recalls his childhood and adolescence; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; in order to begin the hiring process, he traveled from Aguascalientes to Empalme, Sonora, México; once he arrived at the processing center in Empalme, he underwent medical exams, including blood samples and x-rays; he also mentions that he was deloused and stripped in front of others as part of the medical procedures; upon being hired, he was transported by cargo train to the border along with thousands of other workers; the train had wooden benches, and he comments that the ride made him feel as though he was being treated like an animal; as a bracero, his first work contract took him to California where he picked beets and tomatoes; his subsequent contracts took him to Arizona to pick lettuce, Texas to pick cotton, and he then returned to California to pick lemons; each time he was contracted he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, and once he went through Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he describes the various contract lengths, amendments, extensions, and stipulations; in addition, he explains the difference between hourly and contractual pay wages; he recalls one incident when he injured his leg and was unable to work for a month; although he was not paid for the days he did not work, the doctor bill was paid; when he returned to México, he worked in the fields and in construction, but in 1971, he crossed into the United States illegally to work.

Cayetano Vázquez González

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Cayetano Vázquez was born on August 7, 1929, in Concepción del Oro, Zacatecas, México; his father was a farmer, and he owned the land he worked; as a teenager, Cayetano worked in the mines of his hometown; in 1951, he crossed into the United States illegally in order to work, and he was deported shortly thereafter; two years later, in 1953, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked picking various fruits and vegetables throughout the United States; he continued working with the program until 1964.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Vázquez briefly discusses his childhood and family; he recounts his time working in the mines of his hometown, in Concepción de Oro, Zacatecas, México; in 1951, he crossed into the United States illegally in order to work, and he was deported shortly thereafter; two years later, in 1953, he decided to enlist in the bracero program, and he traveled to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, to begin the process; after paying for the trip there, he had very little money left, and he had to wait two weeks before being hired; as a bracero he worked picking various fruits and vegetables throughout the United States; after each contract ended, he returned to México and began the hiring process all over again; he went through centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Empalme, Sonora, Hidalgo, Hidalgo, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe the various places he worked as well as the range of jobs he performed; in addition, he comments on the contract amendments and lengths; he recalls working in Arkansas, and repeatedly being sent back and forth between there and Michigan; from 1958 to 1960, he worked primarily in California; in January of 1964, he was hired on his last contract, and he worked irrigating cotton fields.

Juan Torres Briones

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Juan Torres was born on January 23, 1941, in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; his father was a farmer, and he was the fourth eldest in a family of eleven; when he was thirteen years old, he went to school for only a year; his first job was helping his father work on the farm; he later worked as a gardener and in construction; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he continued working with the program until 1964.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Torres recalls his family and childhood; he also discusses his adolescence, and the various types of work he performed; in 1959, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he signed his first work contract in Hidalgo, Texas, which took him to work in Raymondville, Texas; while there he picked cotton for the first time in his life; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries; he goes on to describe the various things he would do in his free time, such as go to church, the movies, or into town to shop; in spite of his excursions, he would often send money home to his family; although he was generally in good health, he recalls one instance in which he had infection he believes he caught from picking cucumbers; he was taken to a doctor and prescribed medication that alleviated the infection; when the program ended in 1964, he returned to his hometown of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, México; he continued working in the fields there, but he also went to school and learned how to fix tractors; sometime later, he came into the United States illegally to work; although he was deported, he returned and continued to work as farm laborer.

Ceferino Palomares Mar

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: Ceferino Palomares was born on December 1, 1922, in Tampico, Tamaulipas, México; his father died when he was young, and his maternal grandfather cared for the family shortly thereafter; sometime later, his mother also passed away, and the family eventually drifted apart; in 1944, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; his duties included working in the fields, in a manufacturing plant, and on the railroads.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Palomares discusses his family and childhood; he initially learned about the bracero program through an advertisement in the local newspaper; his brother, Alfonso, encouraged him to enroll in the program; in 1944, they were both hired at the contracting center in their hometown of Tampico, Tamaulipas, México; consequently, Ceferino continued to go through the center in Tampico for all of his subsequent work contracts; his first contract took him to work on the railroads in Union City, Pennsylvania; when his contract ended six months later, he returned to México; the following year, in 1945, he went to work in a steel plant in Chicago, Illinois, that manufactured military armor; while working there, he had an accident that nearly cut off his left foot; he later decided to break his contract due to the horrible working conditions, and a cousin of his found him work in a laundry mat; in 1947, he worked in the lemon fields of Ohio; after the war was over, he came into the United States illegally to live with his brother in Chicago, and he was later deported; he goes on to comment on Mexican workers who come into the United States in search of a better life and how they are often taken advantage of.

José Isabel Ortiz Hinojosa

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee: José Ortiz was born on March 25, 1934, in Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; his parents were farmers, and he had six brothers and three sisters; when he was eight years old, he went to school for roughly six months before leaving to help his family with the farming duties; in 1954, he decided to enroll in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked picking crops in Arkansas and Texas.


Summary of Interview: Mr. Ortiz describes his childhood and adolescence; he initially learned about the bracero program through radio advertisements, and in 1954, he decided to enlist; in order to begin the hiring process, he and his brother traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he goes on to describe what he went through at the center, including the huge crowds, waiting time, medical exams, provisions, and transportation services; upon crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas, he underwent a second set of medical exams, which consisted of blood samples and a delousing process; as a bracero, he worked in Arkansas and Texas, where he primarily picked crops; he explains what life was like in the work camps, while detailing how the workers would go about preparing their food; in addition, he discusses how he would send money home to his family and how he would go shopping to buy them gifts during his spare time; he also mentions that although he had several opportunities to arrange for legal residency in the United States, he preferred to stay in his hometown of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México.

Socorro O. Pérez

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Socorro O. Pérez nació y se crió en El Paso, Texas. En 1954 comenzó a trabajar como empleada administrativa y mecanógrafa en Río Vista, un centro de procesamiento de braceros en Socorro, Texas. Continuó trabajando allí hasta 1957 y más tarde se transformó en maestra de los Distritos Escolares Independientes de Ysleta y Socorro.

Resumen de la Entrevista: La Sra. Perez recuerda que pasó su infancia y adolescencia mudándose por los alrededores de El Paso; cuando terminó la escuela secundaria, su tío, quien trabajaba para la Comisión de Empleo, le informó que había vacantes de trabajó en las oficinas locales de inmigraciones, se presentó para pedir empleo y pasó por el proceso de contratación. La contrataron en 1954 y comenzó a trabajar como empleada administrativa y dactilógrafa en Río Vista, un centro de procesamiento de braceros en Socorro, Texas; describe sus responsabilidades mientras se desempeñó en dicha oficina y el tipo de preguntas que debía hacerle a los braceros; sus observaciones acerca de los braceros la llevaron a deducir que se trataba de gente muy humilde y que por lo mismo más de una vez se aprovechaban de ellos. Explica por qué dejó de trabajar allí en 1957; más tarde, en 1972, volvió a trabajar para inmigraciones, pero solamente tiempo parcial; concluye haciendo cometarios generales y observaciones sobre los braceros.

Samuel Chavira Medrano

Description:

Síntesis Biográfica del Entrevistado: Samuel Chavira Medrano nació en septiembre de 1925 en la municipalidad de General Frías, Chihuahua, México; su padre tenía una hacienda y le enseñó el oficio de la agricultura. Su familia se trasladó con el tiempo a Chihuahua, Chihuahua; en 1949 se casó y casi un año más tarde se enlistó en el Programa Bracero.

Resumen de la Entrevista: El Sr. Chavira recuerda brevemente su infancia; a la edad de trece años comenzó a trabajar esporádicamente cada vez que se presentaba una oportunidad. Por un breve período trabajó en la construcción, sabía de la existencia del Programa Bracero porque vivía en Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, donde estaba uno de los centros principales de contratación del programa. En 1950 comenzó el proceso de reclutamiento para convertirse en bracero. Se extiende en detalles acerca de las distintas fases que abarcaba el proceso de contratación, incluyendo el traslado a Río Vista, un centro de procesamiento en Socorro, Texas, donde se hacían los exámenes médicos. Además, describe la documentación que era necesario completar, trabajó en tareas agrícolas y en la cría de ganado. Trabajó como bracero en Illinois, Nuevo México, Minnesota, Misisipi y Wisconsin. En 1952, con la ayuda de su jefe, se convirtió en residente legal de los Estados Unidos; dos años más tarde, pudo pasarle la residencia a su familia.