Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Bautista R. was born in 1924, in Tonaya, Jalisco, México; he had three brothers and two sisters, both of whom passed away; they were all born on a ranch and came from a family of agricultural workers; his father hired a tutor for the children, but Jesús never liked school, consequently, only his brothers were formally educated; by the time he was twelve years old, both his parents had passed away; in 1956, Jesús enlisted in the bracero program, and he labored primarily in California, picking blackberries, cherries, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes; after the program ended, he worked in the United States illegally for a time, but he was later able to obtain legal documentation.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Bautista briefly discusses his family and childhood; he was married in 1947, and he and his wife later had four children; by 1956, his wife became very ill, which prompted him to enlist in the bracero program in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México; from there he was transported to Empalme, Sonora, México, then to Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he underwent medical examinations; as a bracero, he labored primarily in California, picking blackberries, cherries, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the different worksites, duties, schedules, living conditions, provisions, housing, accommodations, payments, and remittances; in addition, he describes an instance in which a foreman separated him and eleven other men from the rest of the braceros to offer them permanent work, housing, and the opportunity to bring their families to the United States; he turned down the chance, because he wanted to return to México, with his family, where he was most comfortable; furthermore, he explains that as a bracero he was paid poorly and often just earned enough to pay for food; even so, he was able to pay off his home in México; after the program ended, he worked in the United States illegally for a time, but he was later able to obtain legal documentation.
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Interview with Jesus Bautista R. by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1146," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.