Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juana Ortíz was born on September 11, 1943, in Ocampo, Guanajuato, México; as a child she suffered a great deal, because she was born out of wedlock; consequently, she was raised by her grandmother; her mother later married and started a new life after leaving her behind; when she was sixteen years old, she married Jesús Ortíz Torres, who eventually came to the United States as a bracero; he worked in California, Idaho, Michigan, and Texas, picking cotton, cucumbers, and tomatoes; together Juana and Jesús had a family of fifteen, ten of which survived; they both emigrated to the United States, and they were able to bring their children, except for two, with them as well.
Summary of Interview
Mrs. Juana Ortíz vividly describes her childhood and the troubles she faced as a child born out of wedlock; she remembers her mother tried to sell her to someone, which consequently led to her grandmother deciding to raise her; soon after, her mother married and started a new life after leaving her behind; when she was sixteen years old, she married Jesús Ortíz Torres [See also No. XX]; he struggled to find work, which led to his decision to enlist in the bracero program against her wishes; as a bracero, he worked in California, Idaho, Michigan, and Texas, picking cotton, cucumbers, and tomatoes; Juana vividly describes one instance when her husband left on a contract, and shortly thereafter she was informed that his bus had crashed and he had died; although she refused to believe any of it, after months of not hearing from him, she was beside herself with grief and started imagining him as a ghost; she explains how difficult it was for her while he was gone, not just emotionally but financially as well; about four months later she finally received a letter from him that had been written when he initially left; two days after that, he arrived home safely; she also talks about how homesick he was; working as a bracero, they barely broke even after repaying the loans they took out for him to leave in the first place; eventually, they both emigrated to the United States, and they were able to bring their children, except for two, with them as well.
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Interview with Juana Ortíz Moreno Gómez by Steve Velásquez, 2005, "Interview no. 1277," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.