Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alejandro Ruteaga was born on April 12, 1932, in Rodeo, Durango, México; he was the third of ten siblings; at the age of eight, he began helping his father with agricultural tasks; when he was eighteen, he crossed the border into the United States to become an undocumented worker in California; he entered the Bracero Program in 1953, and he worked in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming; his jobs included picking almonds, apricots, asparagus, cauliflower, cotton, grapes, lettuce, olives, and strawberries; he performed these duties until 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ruteaga recalls his childhood and the stories his father told about the Mexican Revolution; in 1953, he entered the Bracero Program; he describes the hiring process in Durango, Durango, México, the requirements, and the medical exams performed by American doctors at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; he worked in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming; additionally, he recounts daily activities, what braceros did on weekends, their contracts, and their wages; he states that ranchers hired undocumented workers along with braceros; furthermore, he relates how representatives from the Mexican consulate visited their camps to settle their complaints; he also discusses the discrimination the braceros suffered; addressing his time after the program, he explains why he became an undocumented worker, his thoughts on why ranchers hire undocumented workers, and his pride in having been a bracero; he concludes by stating his reasons for living in México and not migrating to the United States.
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Interview with Alejandro Ruteaga Rivas by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1017," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.