Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
José de la Luz Mares was born on May 15, 1918, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; his father was a shoemaker, and he learned the trade from his father; in 1955, his family’s financial strains led him to the Bracero Program; he worked primarily in the cotton fields.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Mares recalls being trained as a shoemaker by his father; due to financial difficulties, he had to leave his father’s shoe store to look for work elsewhere; in 1955, he began the hiring process for the Bracero Program in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; he and other braceros were transported from Chihuahua, to El Paso, Texas, in freight cars that had previously been used to carry concentrated amounts of lead and zinc; the boxcars were not cleaned prior to being used to transported the braceros; in addition, the braceros were sealed in the cars and left there for the entirety of the trip, which took nearly two days; once they reached the port of entry in El Paso, they were taken to a basement and medically examined and deloused; from there they were taken to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where they had to wait for eight days before being taken to work; he recalls that there were many teachers, engineers, and other professionals working as braceros; he spent most of his time as a bracero working in cotton fields.
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Interview with José de la Luz Mares by Myrna Parra-Mantilla, 2003, "Interview no. 1134," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.