Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Cornelio Soto was born on September 16, 1938, in San Pedro de Azafranes, Durango, México; he was the youngest of five brothers; his father died nine days after he was born; he worked as a bracero from 1956 to 1960 in California; during this time, he cultivated and irrigated cotton, lettuce, onions, sugar beets, and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Soto grew up in Otáez, Durango, México; economic hardship led him to leave the country in the 1950s; after working for two years at the México-U.S. border, he became a bracero in 1956; he describes how he survived in Empalme, Sonora, México while waiting to go through the processing center, how he got his first bracero contract, and his trip to the border; additionally, he explains the bracero hiring process, the medical exams he endured, the reception center in California, and his trip to a farm; he details their daily activities, their housing, their wages, their hobbies, and the food they ate; furthermore, he remembers working in a kitchen, as well as the treatment he received from foremen; he relates how he gained the trust of the foreman and how he became second in command; moreover, he also recollects his loneliness and his decision to return to México; this decision made him miss the opportunity to become a legal U.S. resident, but allowed him to start his own business; he explains why he believes the Bracero Program should still be in operation and how the experience changed his life.
Date of Interview
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Length of Transcript
Interview with Cornelio Soto Ramírez by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1022," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.