Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Anselmo Gamez was born on April 21, 1928, in Villa Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, México; when he was three years old, his mother died; shortly thereafter, he and his family moved in with his grandmother; although his father remarried, he continued to care for his family; in 1955, Anselmo enlisted in the bracero program; he worked primarily in California picking cantaloupe, cotton, dates, and lettuce, and he also used to water the crops; with the help of one of his employers, he was ultimately able to gain citizenship.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gamez briefly talks about his family and childhood; initially, he learned about the bracero program through word of mouth, because people were often given the necessary credentials for the program in town; he went through contracting centers in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Empalme, Sonora; while in Empalme, a representative from an American company was there to recruit workers; he also describes the journey from the centers to the border; as a bracero he worked primarily in California picking cantaloupe, cotton, dates, and lettuce, and he also used to water the crops; he goes on to detail the various worksites, duties, housing, amenities, treatment, provisions, and payment; in addition, he talks about one instance where he was watering the crops in over one hundred degree weather, when he stopped to get a drink of water, and he was reprimanded; consequently, he complained, and he was sent to work elsewhere; soon after, there was an incident in which he and other workers were given inedible food, and when they objected, the situation was quickly resolved; he goes on to describe how their living quarters were burglarized one day while they were eating lunch; the thief was a local teenager who was apprehended, and the workers’ belongings were soon returned; moreover, he repeatedly makes reference to the fact that he had both good and bad experiences; he was ultimately able to gain citizenship with the help of one of his employers; despite all his negative experiences, his overall memories of the program are good.
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Interview with Anselmo Gamez by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1217," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.