Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesús Martínez was born on April 7, 1932, in Rincón de Romos, Aguascalientes, México; as a child, he helped his family with the farming duties, which took precedence over attending school; when he was twelve years old, his father died, which forced him to take on more family responsibilities, including helping to care for his younger siblings; in 1952, he enlisted in the bracero program in order to help support his family; as a bracero he worked with various crops in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas; in addition, he became the foreman for three separate farms; he continued working with the program until 1961, and he was ultimately able to arrange legal residency for his family.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez describes his family and childhood; in 1952, he enlisted in the bracero program in order to help support his family; he provides a detailed explanation of the necessary documentation to become a bracero, including letters of recommendation; in addition, he describes the various contracting procedures, that consisted of long waiting lines, physical exams, collections of blood samples, and delousing, which was the most embarrassing for him; as a bracero, he worked in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas; he goes on to discuss wages, living and working conditions, treatment, provisions, remittances, and the range of relationships among employees and employers; eventually, he became the foreman for three separate farms, and he attended an agricultural school in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to learn more about cultivating crops; he continued working with the program until 1961, and he was ultimately able to arrange legal residency for his family; he concludes by expressing the importance of working hard and being honest.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jesús Martínez by Selfa Chew, 2005, "Interview no. 1090," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.