Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juan Sanchez Abasta was born on June 3, 1917, in Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua, México; he had five brothers and three sisters; his father worked as a foreman for the railroads in México; he also worked for the railroads, and because of his experience he went to México, Distrito Federal, to acquire a contract with the Bracero Program in 1942.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Sanchez briefly recalls his childhood and family; his father worked as a foreman for the railroads in México and helped his son gain employment there; Mr. Sánchez had worked on the railroads for sometime before hearing of the Bracero Program; because the program needed experienced railroad workers, he went to México, Distrito Federal, to begin the hiring process; he gives a detailed description of all the medical examination procedures, including vaccinations, delousing, and x-rays; in 1942, his first contract took him to work in California for South Pacific; for his second contract, he only had to get x-rays, and there was no need for vaccinations or delousing; he worked for the North Pacific in North Dakota; in addition, he describes how lottery chips were used to determine which city braceros would work in; he also provides a detailed narration of the long journeys by train from one city to the next; while working as a bracero, he would often write letters for others who could not write; he also describes one corrido that was written and composed while he was in the program.
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Interview with Juan Sanchez Abasta by Violeta Mena, 2005, "Interview no. 1144," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.