Manuel Montes Robles

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Montes Robles talks about his hometown and what his life was like growing up; he recalls traveling and looking for work; in the process, he lost track of his family, however, he eventually found them; Mr. Montes and his brother began crossing illegally in search of employment; he learned of the bracero program through a newspaper ad; in 1946, he decide to enlist in the bracero program and went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he recalls the entire process, including lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation to and from the center; as part of the process, he was medically examined and deloused; as a bracero he labored in the lettuce and strawberry fields of Salinas, California; he describes the use of the short-handled hoe while working in the lettuce fields; he also worked at Camp Star (Salinas, California), making carrot bundles; in addition, he worked in Imperial Valley, in the cucumber and tomato fields; he details the living conditions, deductions, friendships, treatment, correspondence and entertainment; his younger brother, also a bracero, died while working in the fields of Watsonville, California; Mr. Montes believes that his brother’s death was due to a physical altercation; he details how they were able to return his brother’s body to his wife in Mexicali, Mexico; Mr. Montes recalls being able to get his laser visa, however, he never immigrated to the U.S.; his overall memories as a bracero are positive; he says he is proud to be called a bracero.