Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto Heynes was born on May 1, 1917, in Tepehuanes, Durango, México; he was the youngest of four siblings; their parents died when he was only a year old, and they were raised by their maternal relatives; during his teenage years, he worked in the mines; in spite of the fear instilled by rumors that Mexican workers could also be sent to fight in World War II, he enrolled in the Bracero Program in 1944; as a bracero, he worked in California and Illinois as a railroad line worker until 1956.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Heynes recalls his childhood and adolescence; sometime later, he had heard of the Bracero Program and the rumors that Mexican workers could also be sent to fight in World War II; in spite of this, he and a friend enrolled in the program in 1944; they signed their contracts in Querétaro, Querétaro, México; from there, they were transported by train to the border; as a bracero, he worked in California and Illinois as a railroad line worker, shoveling gravel on roadbeds and repairing the rails; he goes on to explain, what his first activities for the railroad company were, the training he underwent, his work hours, wages, methods of payment, contract amendments and extensions, the housing in hotel rooms, and the food; in addition, he comments that he was treated well by his American employers and the people in general; he concludes with fond memories of his experiences as a bracero and with the thought that the program should be reinstated.
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Interview with Roberto Heynes García by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1006," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.