Interviewee

J. Cruz Gonzalez

Interviewer

Annette Shreibati

Project

Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

J. Cruz Gonzalez was born September 14, 1923, in Teocaltiche, Jalisco, México; he had only one sister; he was never formally educated, but he did learn to read as an adult; by the time he was five years old, he was already working in the fields; later in 1947, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and New Mexico, picking alfalfa, beets, cotton, lettuce, pears, plums and tomatoes; he completed eight contracts, which spanned over roughly four years; afterward, he worked in the United States without proper documents, but he was able to obtain legal status with the help of his employer; he ultimately became a US citizen in 1984.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Gonzalez talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; in 1947, he learned about the bracero program and decided to enlist; he describes the contracting process he underwent, including medical exams and fumigation procedures, as well as the centers he went through in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and Mexicali, Baja California, México; once he obtained a contract under a different name and was sent back, because they recognized who he was; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and New Mexico, picking alfalfa, beets, cotton, lettuce, pears, plums and tomatoes; he completed eight contracts, which spanned over roughly four years; José goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, contract lengths and renewals, payments, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; he also explains that they were not allowed to speak English, because then they would know what was going on; moreover, they could not have watches, because then they could keep track of how many hours they worked; he mentions several other anecdotes about his experiences as a bracero; afterward, he worked in the United States without proper documents, but he was able to obtain legal status with the help of his employer; he ultimately became a US citizen in 1984; in spite of his sufferings, he still has positive memories of the program.

Date of Interview

5-20-2006

Length of Interview

53 minutes

Listen to the Interview

 
Media is loading

Tape Number

No. 1224

Transcript Number

No. 1224

Length of Transcript

30 pages

Interview Number

No. 1224

Terms of Use

Unrestricted

Comments

Interview in Spanish.

Share

COinS