Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Pedro Domínguez Castillo was born October 19, 1926, on the Isla de Janitzio, Michoacán, México,; he had three brothers and three sisters; his parents were fishermen; he was formally educated through the third grade, but none of his siblings were able to go to school; in 1958, he enlisted in the bracero program; he completed a total of three contracts and labored in the fields of California picking cotton, strawberries and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Domínguez describes his childhood; he went to school in a different town but had to stop, because his family needed help with their fishing; when he was sixteen he heard about the bracero program; he ultimately decided to enlist in 1958, out of economic necessity; at the time, he was married and had one daughter; he traveled with a group of fifteen men to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; while there he underwent medical examinations and had to wait for only three days to obtain a contract; he completed a total of three contracts and labored in the fields of California picking cotton, strawberries and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, amenities, provisions, deductions, treatment, correspondence, contract lengths, friendships, and recreational activities, including trips into town; while in the United States, he picked cotton for the first time, which he found extremely difficult; his favorite place to work was Stockton, California, where he picked strawberries, because the climate was mild and work was agreeable; in contrast, while he was in Santa Barbara, California, the Mexican consul was contacted with regard to mistreatment of the braceros by a foreman; moreover, immigration officials also investigated undocumented workers in Santa Barbara; he mentions speaking in Tarasco to other men from his hometown and even teaching a few words to workers who did not know the language; when Pedro returned home, he brought small gifts to his wife as well as clothes and scissors, which he found particularly useful; the money he was able to save and send home went a very long way in México; he mentions continuing to fish upon his return, and he goes on to discuss his life after the program.
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Interview with Pedro Domínguez Castillo by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1434," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.