Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Ignacio Ochoa was born in 1923, at Petatlán, Guerrero, México; he was the first of six siblings, and his mother died when he was twelve years old; from an early age he worked cutting wood; at age fifteen, he moved to Mexico City, México; in 1943, he worked on a Mexican naval boat; he joined the Bracero Program in 1957, and worked in California and Washington; there he picked asparagus, avocadoes, grapes, green beans, lemons, peas, pumpkins, oranges, strawberries, and watermelon.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ochoa recalls growing up in Petatlán, Guerrero, México, his mother dying when he was twelve years old, and working from an early age cutting wood; he states that he moved to Mexico City, México at the age of fifteen, and that he started working on a Mexican naval boat in 1943; he remembers joining the Bracero Program in 1957, and working in California and Washington; there he picked asparagus, avocadoes, grapes, green beans, lemons, peas, pumpkins, oranges, strawberries, and watermelon; additionally, he details what the hiring process in Empalme, Sonora, México was like, the contract he signed, and how he didn’t know what it said because it was in English; he describes what daily life was like in bracero camps, what housing they had, and the food they ate; furthermore, he discusses a time when the braceros went on strike over the quality of the food; he also explains the treatment they received from foremen, and how Mexican foremen were worst than American ones; moreover, he relates losing his house in the 1963 earthquake, why he returned to the United States to work as an undocumented laborer, and how he would like to have a visa to live in the U.S.
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Length of Transcript
Interview with Ignacio Ochoa by Violeta Domínguez, 2002, "Interview no. 1040," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.