Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Pedro Benitez was born in the state of Sinaloa in México; when he was about two years old, his mother died while giving birth to his younger sister; shortly thereafter, his grandmother began to take care of him and his two sisters, and his father abandoned his family not long after his wife died; lamentably, Pedro’s grandmother later passed away as well; he later began picking cotton in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora, which eventually led him to join the bracero program in the early fifties; after the program ended, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but he ultimately acquired legal status.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Benitez vividly describes his childhood, including the deaths of his mother and grandmother, being abandoned by his father, and the various resulting difficulties he and his two sisters faced; he sobs at the recollection of such events; growing up, he wandered from place to place in search of work and a place to stay; he later began picking cotton in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora; while in Sonora, during the early fifties, he picked two thousand kilograms of cotton, which allowed him to travel to Empalme, Sonora, to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he picked cotton, oranges, and tomatoes; he recalls working in the fields during the conclusion of the Korean War, in 1953; additionally, he goes on to talk about a man, who served as a third party by obtaining contracts from farmers and transporting workers from place to place to pick various crops; furthermore, Pedro also explains how much he struggled, because sometimes, he was paid daily and other times every two weeks; one of his biggest complaints, however, was that sometimes he would not get to the crops until the second or third picking, which always yielded much less money; after the program ended, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker, but after an amnesty was declared, he was able to acquire legal status; he comments that if he had it to do over again, he would not choose to be a bracero, because he suffered entirely too much; moreover, he sees no forthcoming resolution with regard to the current bracero struggle for compensation.
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Interview with Pedro Benitez by Perla Guerrero, 2006, "Interview no. 1166," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.