Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gonzalo Soto was born on January 10, 1934, in San Pedro de Azafranes, Durango, México; he was the fourth of eleven siblings; at age eight, he started working in agriculture to help his father; at age seventeen, he decided to cross the México/United States border to acquire work as an undocumented laborer; in 1954, he joined the Bracero Program and worked in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas; there, he picked and irrigated carrots, cotton, lettuce, limes, potatoes, and tomatoes; he performed these duties until 1963.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Soto grew up in Otáez, Durango, México; in 1954, he joined the Bracero Program; he worked in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas; recalling the hiring process, he discusses the contracting center in Mexicali, Baja California, México; he describes the medical exams performed by Mexican and American doctors, and the bracero reception center in El Centro, California; additionally, he remembers their daily activities, their housing, the food they ate and their curfew; he also details the kinds of contracts they had, the wages they got, and the treatment they received from foremen; furthermore, he relates what the relationship between braceros was like, how they used interpreters on the farms, and the complaints brought up by braceros; he recounts the activities they engaged in during weekends, their hobbies, and how he sent money to his family in México; moreover, he explains his life after the program, why he decided to return to the U.S. as an undocumented worker, and the difficulty he had finding a job; he continues to discuss the time when he decided to move back to México and why he has positive memories of his experience as a bracero.
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Interview with Gonzalo Soto Núñez by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1021," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.