Catalino Díaz

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Díaz describes his family and what his life was like growing up; when he was roughly thirty-five years old, he wanted to join the bracero program; his parents were reluctant to let him go; they thought he was too naïve, especially because he could not read, and they did not trust the United States; in spite of their worries, with his uncle’s help and a few of his cousins, he enlisted near Iguala [de la Independencia], Guerrero, México; he details the contracting center he went through in Empalme, Sonora, and the difficulties he faced while there; more specifically, he details the medical exams and fumigation that were part of the overall hiring process; he was transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, before being taken to Manteca, California, to pick grapes and strawberries; his employer provided him with the necessary materials for work, and he renewed his contract onsite; he mentions that at times, he was barely paid enough to cover food expenses; moreover, there was not always not enough work, and he often had to go with another rancher; cherries were his favorite to pick, because he was paid well; he goes on to discuss the daily routine, caring for different crops, provisions, remittances, and recreational activities; in addition, he talks about braceros and undocumented workers laboring in the fields together; the foreman would give a warning whenever immigration officials showed up at the camps; Catalino ultimately left the United States, because there was not enough work or money; in spite of this, his overall memories of the program are positive.