Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Eusebio Hernandez was born on December 16, 1934, in Cuquío, Jalisco, México; growing up, most of his time was spent traveling between his hometown and Guadalajara during planting seasons; consequently, he received very little formal education; in 1958, he enlisted in the bracero program where he worked in the fields with crops such as beets, cotton, lettuce, and onions; he continued on and off with the program until 1962.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Hernandez briefly mentions his family, childhood, and adolescence; while working at a gas station in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, he heard about contracts for the bracero program; in order to receive the proper documentation for the program he had to pick two thousand kilograms of cotton before being sent to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora; he describes the journey from the centers to the border and the physical exams and delousing process he underwent as rude and embarrassing; as a bracero he worked in the fields with crops such as beets, cotton, lettuce, and onions; furthermore, he details the difficulty of working while hunched over with a short hoe for hours at a time and the subsequent back problems he developed; he also talks about being paid 65¢ an hour, and in addition to taxes, having to pay $1.75 per day for food; there was one incident when he was not paid, but after bringing it to the foreman’s attention, the situation was soon resolved; in addition, he recalls a situation where a bracero was physically and verbally abused by an employer; he also mentions conflicts between the braceros themselves; the cooks, for example, earned a little more money and often mistreated those who worked in the fields; while he was a bracero his sister moved to Mexicali, Baja California, México, and he was able to visit her on weekends; he continued working on and off with the program until 1962, at which point he immigrated to the United States and began working as a tailor; during the midnineties, he was able to obtain citizenship; he concludes by stating that braceros had a positive effect on the nation as a whole.
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Interview with Eusebio Hernandez by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1226," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.