Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Matilde Gallegos was born on March 30, 1930, in Benito Juárez, Chihuahua, México; he was one of six children; at the age of twelve, he started working with his father and bother in agriculture; he received formal education up to the second grade; at age eighteen, he joined the Bracero Program, and worked in Texas picking cotton.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gallegos recalls growing up in Benito Juárez, Chihuahua, México; he states that he began working in agriculture when he was twelve years old; at age eighteen, he remembers traveling to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México to join the Bracero Program, and describes the conditions he endured there; he details that he had to spend twenty days waiting to be contracted, a time he spent homeless; additionally, he explains the contracting process, the medical exams he endured, and how he was transported to the United States in a train car that was normally used for animals; he worked in Texas picking cotton; furthermore, he presents what life was like in the bracero camps, what kind of housing they got, and how they were treated by foremen; he outlines that in some camps food was provided to them at no cost, but that in others they were deducted a charge from their pay or they had to cook their own food; after three years of bracero work, he decided he did not want to continue contract work; he explains why he returned to the U.S. as an undocumented worker, and why he feels that the Bracero Program was of little help due to the low pay they received.
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Interview with Matilde Gallegos by Anaís Acosta, 2005, "Interview no. 1108," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.