Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Villalba C was born in Oacaca, México, on August 14, 1933; his mother’s name was María Cipriana Vega, and his father’s name was Camerina Villalba Reyes; Ismael had three brothers and two sisters; he married during his early twenties; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Texas, picking chile, cotton, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes until 1964; he and his wife had three children; the family immigrated to the United States, and Ismael became a legal permanent resident.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Villalba talks about his family and what his life was like growing up in México; during his early twenties he married; economic necessity drove him to enlist in the bracero program in 1959; his wife was reluctant to let him go for fear he would get sick, injured or not return; as part of the contracting process, he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, México, where he waited for thirteen days; he underwent medical exams in México and the United States; moreover, he was also fumigated upon entering the United States; during this process, he suffered greatly, because he was treated like an animal; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Texas, picking chile, cotton, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes until 1964; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates a few anecdotes about his experiences; he and his wife went on to have three children; the family immigrated to the United States, and Ismael became a legal permanent resident; overall, he has positive memories of the program, because it changed his life and allowed him to provide a better life for his wife and children.
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Interview with Jesus Villalba C. by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1257," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.