Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Ramón Ávila was born on October 20, 1939, in Durango, Durango, México; as the eldest of fourteen brothers, he began helping his father at a very early age by sowing beans and corn; his father’s experience as a bracero coupled with his family’s economic hardships led him to enroll in the Bracero Program in 1960; as a bracero, he worked in California, picking asparagus and harvesting chile and tomato; he continued working with the program until 1963.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ávila briefly recalls his family and childhood; he worked in construction for a time before deciding to join his father as a bracero in 1960; together they traveled to Vicente Guerrero, Durango, México, to begin the enrollment process, and from there they were transported by train to a contracting center in Empalme, Sonora; he describes the entire hiring process and the medical exams they underwent both in México and at the processing center on the border; as a bracero, he worked in California, picking asparagus and harvesting chile and tomato; he goes on to narrate what daily life on the farms was like for braceros, including the kinds of food they would eat, the housing, what they did on weekends and in their spare time, and how they were able to send money home to México; in addition, he also explains how particular jobs were carried out, what their wages were for specific types of work, and contract amendments and extensions; he mentions that his American employers treated him well; in his opinion, the program was not economically beneficial for him, and he is not proud to have been a bracero.
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Interview with Ramón Ávila Hernández by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 995," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.