Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Loreto Martínez was born on July 7, 1932, in Cuencamé, Durango, México; he was the fifth of nine brothers; to help his father, he started working in agriculture at the age of thirteen; he worked in construction and picked cotton throughout his teenage years; in 1947, he traveled to the México-United States border in Tamaulipas, México, and was hired as an undocumented worker in Brownsville, Texas; in 1954, he joined the Bracero Program and worked in California, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; he gathered cabbage, carrots, green peppers, lettuce, and sugar beets; additionally, he cut Christmas Trees, picked cantaloupes, watermelons, and cotton; he performed these activities until 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez recalls his first job cleaning grass from a pond for 25 cents, and his undocumented work in Brownsville, Texas; he remembers hearing about the Bracero Program over the radio in 1947; in 1954, he joined the program and worked in California, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; he describes the hiring process in the contracting centers of Monterrey, Nuevo León, México and Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; additionally, he discusses the medical exams he endured at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; he recounts daily activities on farms, the different wages they received, and how work was performed; furthermore, he states what the lengths of contracts were, the treatment they received from foremen, and the help they got from interpreters; he also presents what kind of housing they had, the food they made, and how they were paid; moreover, he relates the benefits of being a bracero and why he is proud of his experience.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Loreto Martínez Villegas by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1013," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.