Edwin R. Ubeda
Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gabriel Martínez Ángel was born in San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla, México, on March 24, 1938; his uncles worked as braceros in the late forties, which ultimately inspired him to do the same; in 1960, he enlisted in the bracero program, and he worked in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking beans, beets, cucumbers, strawberries, and tomatoes; in 1970, he obtained a visa, which was later taken away from him, but he was able to help the rest of his family legally emigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez briefly recalls his family and childhood; his uncles worked as braceros in the late forties, which ultimately inspired him to do the same; in 1960, he enlisted in the bracero program; he describes the entire process he went through both in México and in the United States, including obtaining his military ID card, getting his name on the county’s list of available workers, physical examinations, and being deloused; as a bracero he worked in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Texas, picking beans, beets, cucumbers, strawberries, and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, duties, contract lengths, payments, deductions, housing, living amenities, provisions, remittances, and recreational activities; moreover, he relates how there were occasional problems and confrontations among workers and between workers and foremen; he also talks about celebrating Mexican holidays among themselves; Texas was the worst place for him to work, because they were treated like animals there; while working as a bracero people offered to help him gain legal status, but it never happened; consequently, he mentions that the political situation under Díaz Ordaz factored into his inability to gain legal status; he stayed in México until 1970, when he entered the United States with a visa, and he was also able to obtain visas for the rest of his family; later, he had his visa taken away from him and was sent back to México, at which point he returned to the United States illegally; he concludes by stating that the bracero program was a positive experience, because in México he did not have as many possibilities to make the same kind of money.
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Interview with Gabriel Martínez Ángel by Edwin R. Ubeda, 2005, "Interview no. 1274," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.