Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Justo G. Montes was born in Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco, México, in 1931; he was the second born of his seven siblings; his parents were agricultural workers, and they also cared for livestock; as a boy, he helped his parents with the animals and in the field; he worked illegally in the United States for a short time, but he later enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked primarily in the cotton fields of Texas; his last contract was in 1963; he was ultimately able to become a U.S. citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Montes briefly mentions his family and childhood; when he was eighteen years old, he came to the United States illegally, but shortly thereafter he enlisted in the bracero program; he often went through contracting centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Empalme, Sonora, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; the medical exams he underwent included x-rays and blood samples; he goes on to chronicle the various worksites, duties, daily routines, living conditions, amenities, provisions, payments, deductions, remittances, contract renewals, and recreational activities; in addition, he explains that he spent three years in Big Spring, Texas; he stayed there year-round and handled all aspects of the crops; moreover, he was in charge of the other eight or nine braceros, and he weighed cotton; in contrast, Plainview, Texas, occupied roughly seven hundred braceros at once; he did not like it, because there were too many people; furthermore, he only worked two or three days, which was just enough to pay for food, and he had to be in line by 3:00 AM just to eat breakfast by 5:00 AM; he continued working with the program until 1963; several years later, in 1984, he was able to obtain citizenship, and he brought his children with him; his overall memories of the program are positive, because he was able to save enough money to help his family.
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Interview with Justo G. Montes by Mireya Loza, 2005, "Interview no. 1110," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.