Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juan Baez B. was born on April 15, 1922, in Aguililla, Michoacán, México; his parents worked in agriculture, and he was the fourth eldest of his eight siblings; he was never formally educated, because there were no schools due to the Cristero War; consequently, when he was ten years old, he began working the land; he later worked in the United States illegally for a short time before obtaining a bracero contract in 1949, which took him to work in Arizona and California; in 1979, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker; he later applied for amnesty and arranged for legal residency.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Baez briefly describes his family and childhood; later, he worked in the United States illegally for a short time before returning to México through Mexicali, Baja California, and obtaining a bracero contract in 1949; he goes on to explain the requirements, including how their hands were checked, physical exams, x-rays, and blood samples; consequently, he underwent similar procedures when going through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora; he also talks about transportation from the centers to the border by bus and train; as a bracero he worked in Arizona and California; he also details the various worksites, daily routines, housing, amenities, provisions, working relationships, payments, deductions, remittances, and recreational activities; moreover, he explains the difference between contract and hourly pay; he also describes contract renewals and how every eighteen months, braceros had to return to México; at one of the camps the cook would often buy chicken, fish, and meat, that was cheap, because it was old; when the workers complained to the Mexican consul, they would announce their visit and the food would be different, which nullified the grievance; in 1979, he returned to the United States as an undocumented worker; he later applied for amnesty and arranged for legal residency; overall he has positive memories of the bracero program, and he comments on how it changed his life for the better.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Juan Baez Barragán by Mireya Loza, 2005, "Interview no. 1106," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.