Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Cayetano Loza Ornelas was born on August 7, 1918, on a hacienda in Manuel Doblado, Guanajuato, México; his dad’s name was Doroteo Loza Muñoz, and his mother’s name was Manuela Ornelas Pérez; Cayetano had five siblings; his parents worked in agriculture on the hacienda; Cayetano completed his education through the primary grades; in 1938, he married and later started a family; he lived in the same place and was able to see a number of men coming and going throughout the duration of the bracero program; in addition, his brother, José, and two sons, Juan and Manuel, were braceros.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Loza talks about the hacienda where he grew up and how it gradually changed over time, eventually becoming a city; in addition, he explains what it was like living and working on an ejido; in 1942, government officials went to ranches in buses to enlist and take people for the bracero program; he describes the indecision many men faced with regard to joining the program, working on the hacienda, or taking over an ejido; although he never became a bracero, his brother, José, and two sons, Juan and Manuel, did; Cayetano discusses how his sons were able to get on the list of available workers and how they went through the contracting center in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México; he bought livestock for them whenever they sent money home; by the time Juan returned, he had learned to speak and read in English; he eventually went back to the United States, married, and settled there; when Manuel came back, he was more reserved; he had been treated badly while working as a bracero, and he never wanted to return to the United States; Cayetano also discusses how other men left with the program and returned after only a few months; they often came back with clothes and radios as gifts; a number of men he knew died while in the United States; he speculates they became ill and had no one to care for them; Cayetano knew of another man from the surrounding area who was burned while in his room at night; having lived in the same place, Cayetano was able to see a number of men coming and going throughout the duration of the bracero program.
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Interview with Cayetano Loza Ornelas by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1284," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.