Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz was born in Santa Ana del Pilar, Matamoros, Coahuila, México; he was the older of two sons; his father worked in agriculture and died before Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz’s first birthday; his mother supported them by taking in laundry and ironing for others; he was formally educated through the first grade; when he was eight years old, he began working in agriculture; he heard about the bracero program when he was fifteen years old; when he was twenty-five years old he became a bracero; he married and is the father of eleven children; he worked forty-five days in the cotton fields of Texas.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his family endured; he talks about his hometown and working in agriculture while growing up; he married ten days before he joined the bracero program; when he was twenty-five years old, he heard about a call for braceros and decided to enlist in the program; he traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, México; he details the harsh conditions he and the other men endured while waiting at the center; his first contract took him to work in the cotton fields of Texas; he goes on to detail the living conditions, provisions, duties, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; he recalls that his brother was in charge of reading the letters and handling his remittances because he was the only one that could read or write; he also recalls that the foreman would take some of the braceros to drink in Piedras Negras, México on the weekends; after he completed his contract, he returned to México and worked in agriculture; he did not renew his bracero contract.
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Interview with Nicasio Cortinas Ortíz by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1391," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.