Rafael Hernández

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

In search for employment, Mr. Hernández traveled from San Luis Potosí to Hermosillo, Mexico where he found out about the bracero program; he was required to demonstrate that he was capable of picking cotton; he picked seven hundred kilos of cotton in fifteen days; he was given a letter which certified that he was a farm laborer and available for employment; he then traveled to the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he recalls that one of the requirements for the braceros was to have calloused hands; he and approximately 150 other men traveled by train from Hermosillo to Mexicali, Mexico; from Mexicali he was sent to El Centro, California where he was contracted to work in Calipatria, California picking cotton; he details the harsh living conditions he and the other braceros had to endure; in addition, he talks about how painful the physical exams were and how rudely they were conducted; as part of the process, he was stripped, medically examined, and deloused; Mr. Hernández describes the powder that was sprayed on his body; he believes it was sulfur because of the yellow residue that it left on his skin; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; once his 18 month contract ended, he returned to Mexicali, Mexico where he renewed his contract; after his contract ended, he traveled to Monterrey, Mexico and obtained documentation to immigrate to the United States with help form his boss; he worked ten or more hours a day, seven days a week; Mr. Hernández studied in Brawley, California in order to operate cotton-picking machines.