Antonio H. Perez

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Pérez recalls his brother working as a bracero and being fascinated when he returned home with new clothes and a radio; Antonio later married at the age of twenty; he taught for a while but did not make very much money, which is why he decided to enlist as a bracero in 1964; in order to get on the list of available workers, he had to pay two hundred pesos; he explains that the fee was imposed by the person making the list, not the government; once on the list, he traveled to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México; he describes the requirements, long waiting times and medical exams he endured at the center; from there he was transported with other men by train to the border at El Centro, California; they were fed and taken to barracks to await departure to their individual worksites; as a bracero, Antonio labored in the fields of California picking cantaloupes and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, correspondence and recreational activities, including religious services; in addition, he recounts other anecdotes about his experiences; after the program ended, he worked in the United States without documents; he explains that he earned better pay this way than as a bracero; in 1978, he obtained legal status, and by 1981 he was able to do the same for his wife and five children; he and his wife later had two more children; although the program ultimately changed his life for the better, he still has distressing memories of his experiences.