Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Nemecio Meza was born on October 31, 1931, in Molcaxac, Puebla, México; he has two brothers and two sisters; his parents worked in the fields planting barley, beans, corn, and wheat; he was formally educated through the second grade; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program, where he continued working on and off until 1962; he primarily labored in the fields of California picking various fruits and vegetables; during the mid-eighties his entire family immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Meza very briefly discusses his family; in 1959, he and his father went to Empalme, Sonora, México, to enlist in the bracero program; although they were both sent to California, they worked in different cities; he talks about braceros generally being mistreated throughout the contracting process, because the medical exams were painful, money was frequently stolen from them, they were often left hungry, and in Calexico, California, they were stripped and deloused; they endured whatever they had to out of necessity; the camps, unfortunately, were not much better; as a bracero, he worked on and off from 1959 to 1962, primarily in California picking various fruits and vegetables; he goes on to detail various worksites, housing, provisions, duties, daily routines, payments, deductions, remittances, contract renewals, and recreational activities; once, while on a forty-five day contact, he left after only thirty days, because he was treated so badly; he also describes the grueling use of the short hoe, which was only about two feet long, and having to be hunched over all day; in addition, he states that some braceros spoke Náhuatl, not Spanish, and did not always have an interpreter; he goes on to explain how his hometown had changed as a result of the program, including new homes, paved roads, mail service, phones, and the advent of government operated stores known as CONASUPO, Compañia Nacional de Subsistencia Popular; during the mideighties his entire family immigrated to the United States.
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Interview with Nemecio Meza by Mireya Loza, 2006, "Interview no. 1176," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.