Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Higinio Muñoz Martínez was born January 19, near San Miguel [el] Alto, in Jalisco, México; when he was eight years old, his family moved to San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, México, where he was raised; his parents were campesinos, and he had three sisters and two brothers; he was formally educated for roughly seven years, and he also worked in the fields; in 1945, he enlisted in the bracero program and continued with the program until 1962; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan and Oregon, cleaning, pruning and picking beets, grapes, green beans and tomatoes; later, in 1960, he married, and two years later he legally immigrated to the United States; he ultimately became a citizen in 1984.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Muñoz talks about his family and childhood memories; while he was in México, Distrito Federal, he saw an announcement in the newspaper for the bracero program; in 1945, he decided to enlist in the program, because he was not earning enough money and wanted a chance for a better life; he went through the contracting center in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, and from there, he was transported by train to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, before finally arriving at the camp in Oregon; the braceros had no say in where they went to work; in his opinion, they were all very ignorant about all of it; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan and Oregon, cleaning, pruning and picking beets, grapes, green beans and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, working relationships, friendships, contract lengths, payments, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; from 1958 to 1962, he picked grapes in Borrego Springs, California, which is where he worked the longest; during this time he married, and he visited his wife and family every week in Mexicali, Baja California, México, which was about an hour away; shortly after his time in the program, he legally immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen in 1984.
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Interview with Higinio Muñoz Martínez by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1229," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.