Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alejandro Hernández was born July 10, 1927, in Durango, México; he was the first born of his four siblings; in 1936, when he was nine years old, his father died; as the eldest, he began working by helping care for livestock, in order to help support his family; consequently, he was formally educated only through the second grade; by the time he was eleven years old, he was working in the fields picking cotton; in 1950, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the alfalfa and cotton fields of Las Cruces, New Mexico, cleaning, pruning, watering and picking for ten years; in 1954, he married a woman he met in El Paso, Texas; they had three boys while he was a bracero, and later they had two more boys and three girls, eight children in total.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Hernández talks about his family and how much he suffered growing up; he initially learned about the bracero program through the radio; in 1950, he and a friend went to Chihuahua, México to earn money picking cotton; from there they went to the contracting center in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, which was situated in an abandoned racetrack; among the thousands waiting, they found some friends that were already on a list of workers; two men from the list were missing and they easily took their place; Alejandro describes crossing into El Paso, Texas, where he was stripped, examined and deloused; from there he was transported in trailers used for animals to Las Cruces, New Mexico; as a bracero, he labored in the alfalfa and cotton fields of Las Cruces, cleaning, pruning, watering and picking for ten years; he goes on to detail housing, accommodations, living conditions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, working relationships and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he recounts several anecdotes about his experiences; moreover, he talks about the woman he met in El Paso, Texas and visited every week until they finally married in 1954; they had three boys while he was a bracero, and later they had two more boys and three girls, eight children in total.
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Interview with Alejandro Hernández by Hugo Camacho, 2008, "Interview no. 1347," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.