Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Carlos Fuentes was born on November 18, 1932, in Uriangato, Guanajuato; he is the eldest of his five siblings; while going to school, he helped his father work the land, and as a result received very little formal education; his uncles served in the bracero program, and he wanted to follow in their footsteps in the hopes of financially helping his family; he worked off and on with the program from 1952 to 1955; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan, Texas, and Wyoming, picking beets, cotton, cucumbers, lemons, and lettuce; in 1962, with the help of his brother, he was able to emigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Fuentes briefly describes his family, childhood, and adolescence; he becomes emotional and cries upon recalling his decision to become a bracero in the hopes of financially helping his family; initially, he went through the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, to enlist as a bracero; he goes on to explain the requirements, general exams, including immunizations and delousing procedures, and the overall process he underwent at the various centers he went through; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan, Texas, and Wyoming, picking beets, cotton, cucumbers, lemons, and lettuce; he details the different worksites, duties, payment, deductions, treatment, contract renewals, living conditions, provisions, remittances, recreational activities, and relationships; in addition, he mentions having to carry his mica card or contract with him wherever he went; he also describes how the foremen were often very hard on all the workers; there was one instance in which he volunteered to help in Oxnard, California, after a huge fire, and he was paid very well for his work; in 1962, with the help of his brother, he was able to emigrate to the United States; overall, his memories of the program are positive, and he considers it a great satisfaction and privilege to have worked in the U.S. as a bracero.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Carlos Fuentes by Ivonne Cachu, 2006, "Interview no. 1180," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.