Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Zenon Martínez Banda was born in Lagunillas, San Luis Potosí, México; his father worked on a milpa; as a boy, he helped his father work in the fields growing corn and green beans; he was never formally educated; while in his early twenties, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Montana cleaning, pruning and picking cotton and tomatoes; during his time with the program, he married and had three children; he and his wife later had two more children, five in total.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez recalls hearing people talk favorably about the bracero program and wanting to enlist; while in his early twenties, he decided to join the bracero program; he describes the requirements and necessary paperwork to enlist; additionally, he recounts going through the center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México and entering the United States through Hidalgo, Texas; he also went through the center in Chihuahua and Sonora, México and entered through El Paso, Texas and Nogales, Arizona, respectively; Zenon also describes the medical exams and fumigation procedures he underwent; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Montana cleaning, pruning and picking cotton and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, routines, payments, deductions, treatment, contract lengths and recreational activities; although he usually obtained forty-five day contracts, he did work for six months in Wilcox, Arizona and one year in Peoria, Arizona; during his time with the program, he married and had three children; he and his wife later had two more children, five in total.
Date of Interview
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Length of Transcript
Interview with Zenon Martínez Banda by Itzel Kuckle, 2008, "Interview no. 1355," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.