Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Eva R. Ortiz was born April 5, 1934, on a ranch in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; her mother, Teresa Orozco, was a housewife, and her father, Jesús Ruiz, worked on an ejido; Eva was the third born of her five siblings; she was formally educated through the fourth grade and often helped her father work the land; in 1957, she married Manuel Ortiz Orozco and later had two children; Manuel enlisted in the bracero program prior to their marriage, in1955, and he continued after as well; as a bracero, he labored in New Mexico and Texas, picking various vegetables and cotton and caring for livestock; they later immigrated to the United States and ultimately became citizens.
Summary of Interview
Ms. Ortiz talks about her family and what her life was like growing up; as a young woman she began dating Manuel Ortiz Orozco, whom she knew from the ranch where they were both raised; in 1955, he enlisted in the bracero program; she was happy that he joined, because it was of great help, especially given that the harvests were so undependable; they often wrote love letters to each other; when he and other men were gone their fields were abandoned, and the women and children did the best they could; after he returned from his first contract, they married in 1957; they continued living on the same ranch, but were very poor; Manuel renewed his contract three more times out of necessity; even so, he earned only fifty cents an hour, and consequently did not have much to send home; the barracks he lived in often had rats and snakes; Eva stayed with her parents, and a year later, her son was born; she suffered greatly in Manuel’s absence; they were so poor, she had to go to different stores asking for them to extend her credit for food; the other bracero wives all helped each other as best they could and shared what little money they had; many were worried their husbands would find new wives in the United States and not return home; Manuel went home roughly every year; in 1960, their daughter was born; the family later immigrated to the United States, and they ultimately became citizens.
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Interview with Eva R. Ortiz by Alejandra Díaz, 2008, "Interview no. 1362," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.