Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Aceves Gutierres was born on August 15, 1939, in Tototlán, Jalisco, México; he is the second oldest of eight brothers and five sisters; he received little formal schooling, but his mother taught him to read and write; in 1957, he joined the bracero program; he worked in Coachella, California picking cotton, dates, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges; he left the program in 1960 and later returned to California to pick dates.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Aceves Gutierres recalls his childhood in Tototlán, Jalisco, México; he explains that his father was a wealthy man, and that his mother educated him; at age eleven, he began working in agriculture; he remembers joining the bracero program in 1957 and traveling to Empalme, Sonora, México for his contract; moreover, he relates what the contracting process was like, how he was treated by officials, and what physical exams he was given; he describes being taken to the border in trucks, and how he was deloused in El Centro, California; he expresses felling humiliated during this process; furthermore, he explains how braceros were picked for work at El Centro and then taken to their worksites; he worked in Coachella, California until 1960, picking cotton, dates, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges; he details daily life as a bracero, the work he did, how much he was paid, and how many hours he worked; more specifically, he outlines the differences between getting hourly pay versus contract pay, as well as how deductions were made to his paychecks for food; he details bracero living arrangements, the bad quality of the food they received, and how they were treated by foremen; he also discusses labor unions that were developed in the fields; in addition, he remembers how he was discriminated against by police officers; he states he returned to Coachella with papers after the program finished; beyond his bracero experience, he relates that he is a writer and composer; he also states that he once had a close encounter with a UFO.
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Interview with Jesus Aceves Gutierres by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1202," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.