Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Cuauhtémoc Z. Madrid was born December 11, 1929, in Sonora México; he had eleven siblings; his mother was a housewife, and his father worked in copper, silver and gold mines; by the time Cuauhtémoc was eight years old, he was working odd jobs wherever he could find them; he was formally educated only through the sixth grade, because there were no secondary schools; as a young man, he enlisted in the bracero program and labored in the fields of Arizona for four months.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Madrid talks about his hometown and what his life was like growing up; when he went to the center to enlist, contracts were suspended after ten days, and no one knew why; even so, he and others continued to wait; they held on to the belt loops of the people in front of and behind them so no one would get in line in front of them; while waiting, he climbed a tree, picked dates and gave them to the men that did not have food; when contracts resumed, he could not pass, because his papers were not signed; the men he helped feed argued on his behalf, and he was allowed to pass; he was stripped and examined, which was embarrassing, because there were women present; upon crossing into the United States, he was deloused and so were his luggage and clothing; as a bracero, he completed one contract and labored in the fields of Arizona for four months; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; when he arrived at the camp, it was in very poor condition; there was very little drinking water and nothing but tents; it rained, and all of his belongings were ruined; he could not replace them, because he did not have any money; he also talks about receiving a telegram from his family telling him to come home, because his father was very ill; his boss did not believe him and was reluctant to let him go; when he left his boss told him not to return, because by then it would be too late for any good pickings; although his father eventually recovered, he decided not to return as a bracero.
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Interview with Cuauhtémoc Z. Madrid by Anaís Acosta, 2008, "Interview no. 1354," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.