Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alberto de Loera was born on April 16, 1940, in Calvillo, Aguascalientes, México; his father was a farmer who taught him how to work the land; he went to school only through the third grade, and from then on spent his time helping his father on the farm; in 1959, he enlisted in the Bracero Program; as a bracero he worked in Arizona, California, and Texas, picking beets, cotton, lemons, lettuce, and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. de Loera recalls his childhood and adolescence; in 1959, he decided to enroll in the Bracero Program; in order to begin the hiring process, he traveled from Aguascalientes to Empalme, Sonora, México; once he arrived at the processing center in Empalme, he underwent medical exams, including blood samples and x-rays; he also mentions that he was deloused and stripped in front of others as part of the medical procedures; upon being hired, he was transported by cargo train to the border along with thousands of other workers; the train had wooden benches, and he comments that the ride made him feel as though he was being treated like an animal; as a bracero, his first work contract took him to California where he picked beets and tomatoes; his subsequent contracts took him to Arizona to pick lettuce, Texas to pick cotton, and he then returned to California to pick lemons; each time he was contracted he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, and once he went through Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he describes the various contract lengths, amendments, extensions, and stipulations; in addition, he explains the difference between hourly and contractual pay wages; he recalls one incident when he injured his leg and was unable to work for a month; although he was not paid for the days he did not work, the doctor bill was paid; when he returned to México, he worked in the fields and in construction, but in 1971, he crossed into the United States illegally to work.
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Interview with Alberto de Loera by Violeta Dominguez, 2003, "Interview no. 1065," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.