Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Lucio Nuñez was born December 13, 1940, in Durango, México; he had two brothers and three sisters; his father worked in the mines, but died when he was still young; he was never formally educated, but he did work in the fields; when he was fifteen years old, he moved to Sinaloa to work; sometime later, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, primarily picking avocados; he eventually immigrated to the United States where he raised a family of six with his wife and later became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Nuñez briefly talks about his family; he was working in Culiacán, Sinaloa, México, when he first heard about the bracero program; he decided to enlist, and three months later, he went to Empalme, Sonora, México, where he waited a week and a half to obtain a contract; he offers a detailed description of the entire process he underwent in México and the United States, including being stripped, medically examined and fumigated, which was especially humiliating and discriminatory; many men even broke out into rashes from the poison used during fumigation; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, primarily picking avocados; he goes on to detail camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, friendships, working relationships and recreational activities; Lucio also explains that the men were provided with sheets, blankets, towels and soap; initially, he picked tomatoes for a week and a half, before being taken to work in an avocado orchard on his own; because he worked alone, he was able to earn seventy to eighty dollars every two weeks; although the men were cared for if they were sick, he often chose to go to Tijuana, Baja California, México instead, and pay for his own pills; he also discusses the difficultly in transitioning to life in México after the program with significantly less money; he eventually immigrated to the United States where he raised a family of six with his wife and later became a citizen; overall, he has positive memories of having been a bracero.
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Interview with Lucio Nuñez by Violeta Mena, 2006, "Interview no. 1234," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.