Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Justo G. Montes was born in Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco, México, in 1931; he was the second born of his seven siblings; his parents were agricultural workers, and they also cared for livestock; as a boy, he helped his parents with the animals and in the field; he worked illegally in the United States for a short time, but he later enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked primarily in the cotton fields of Texas; his last contract was in 1963; he was ultimately able to become a U.S. citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Montes briefly mentions his family and childhood; when he was eighteen years old, he came to the United States illegally, but shortly thereafter he enlisted in the bracero program; he often went through contracting centers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Empalme, Sonora, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; the medical exams he underwent included x-rays and blood samples; he goes on to chronicle the various worksites, duties, daily routines, living conditions, amenities, provisions, payments, deductions, remittances, contract renewals, and recreational activities; in addition, he explains that he spent three years in Big Spring, Texas; he stayed there year-round and handled all aspects of the crops; moreover, he was in charge of the other eight or nine braceros, and he weighed cotton; in contrast, Plainview, Texas, occupied roughly seven hundred braceros at once; he did not like it, because there were too many people; furthermore, he only worked two or three days, which was just enough to pay for food, and he had to be in line by 3:00 AM just to eat breakfast by 5:00 AM; he continued working with the program until 1963; several years later, in 1984, he was able to obtain citizenship, and he brought his children with him; his overall memories of the program are positive, because he was able to save enough money to help his family.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Justo G. Montes by Mireya Loza, 2005, "Interview no. 1110," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.