Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Herminio Martinez was born in Totatiche, Jalisco, México; he had about fourteen or fifteen siblings, but only ten, five women and five men, are living; although he was not formally educated for very long, he learned to read and write as an adult; in 1962, he enlisted in the bracero program, and he worked in Texas; in 1980, he married, and he and his wife had two sons.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martinez recalls learning about the bracero program through the television; in 1962, he decided to enlist in the program; his father borrowed five hundred pesos to help him on the condition that he would in turn pay fifty dollars; Herminio describes going through a processing center in Chihuahua, México, where there were many people; he then went to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, where there were so many people that they all slept on the floor; from there, the men were transported by bus to a reception center where they were medically examined, which included blood samples, x-rays, and being fumigated; when they were stripped, they were laughed at and taunted; as a bracero, he worked in Lubbock and Plainview, Texas, picking cucumbers; he explains that he had to stay hunched over all day from 6:00 AM until 12:00 PM, at which point he was given a half hour lunch before returning to work again until 5:00 PM; in essence, he worked hunched over for ten hours a day without any breaks; he also mentions that the braceros were referred to by number, not by name; during his free time he would play poker or go to the movie theater, which was only a few blocks away; the foremen treated the men very badly by yelling at them and threatening to return them to México if they did not work hard enough; in addition, he recalls the day President Kennedy was assassinated; years later, in 1980, he married, and he and his wife had two sons.
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Interview with Herminio Martinez by Mónica Pelayo, 2006, "Interview no. 1155," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.