Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Agustín Martínez was born on May 15, 1918, in Torreón, Coahuila, México; he was the oldest of three siblings; his father died when he was three years old; at the age of fifteen, he began sowing beans and corn to help his family financially; hard economic conditions and positive stories from first time braceros led him to enlist in the Bracero Program in 1942; he worked in California, New Mexico, and Texas until 1959; his jobs included picking cotton and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez worked in California, New Mexico, and Texas from 1942 to 1959; he recalls the hiring process at the bracero contracting centers in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México and Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, México; additionally, he describes his train trip to the border, the disinfecting process at the reception center in Eagle Pass, Texas, and the signing of his contract; he relates details about the types of contracts they had, their lengths, and contract extensions; furthermore, he discusses their daily activities, the work they performed, their wages, their housing, and the food they ate; he also recounts how he saved money to send back to México; moreover, he remembers the relationships that existed between braceros, the problems he had with one bracero, in particular, their weekend trips, and the good treatment they received from ranchers; he also explains what the term bracero means to him, why he is proud of having been a bracero, and his positive memories of the experience.
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Interview with Agustín Martínez Olivares by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1012," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.