Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Catalino Díaz was born on April 30, 1925, in Acatepec, Guerrero, México; he was the second born in a family of twelve; his father worked the land, and his mother was a housewife; when he was six years old, he started selling goods in order to help support his family; consequently, he never went to school; during the late thirties, he began working in the mines, where he remained employed for a total of fourteen years.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Díaz describes his family and what his life was like growing up; when he was roughly thirty-five years old, he wanted to join the bracero program; his parents were reluctant to let him go; they thought he was too naïve, especially because he could not read, and they did not trust the United States; in spite of their worries, with his uncle’s help and a few of his cousins, he enlisted near Iguala [de la Independencia], Guerrero, México; he details the contracting center he went through in Empalme, Sonora, and the difficulties he faced while there; more specifically, he details the medical exams and fumigation that were part of the overall hiring process; he was transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, before being taken to Manteca, California, to pick grapes and strawberries; his employer provided him with the necessary materials for work, and he renewed his contract onsite; he mentions that at times, he was barely paid enough to cover food expenses; moreover, there was not always not enough work, and he often had to go with another rancher; cherries were his favorite to pick, because he was paid well; he goes on to discuss the daily routine, caring for different crops, provisions, remittances, and recreational activities; in addition, he talks about braceros and undocumented workers laboring in the fields together; the foreman would give a warning whenever immigration officials showed up at the camps; Catalino ultimately left the United States, because there was not enough work or money; in spite of this, his overall memories of the program are positive.
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Interview with Catalino Díaz Villa by Anais Acosta, 2008, "Interview no. 1340," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.