Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Juan Sanchez Abasta was born on June 3, 1917, in Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua, México; he had five brothers and three sisters; his father worked as a foreman for the railroads in México; he also worked for the railroads, and because of his experience he went to México, Distrito Federal, to acquire a contract with the Bracero Program in 1942.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Sanchez briefly recalls his childhood and family; his father worked as a foreman for the railroads in México and helped his son gain employment there; Mr. Sánchez had worked on the railroads for sometime before hearing of the Bracero Program; because the program needed experienced railroad workers, he went to México, Distrito Federal, to begin the hiring process; he gives a detailed description of all the medical examination procedures, including vaccinations, delousing, and x-rays; in 1942, his first contract took him to work in California for South Pacific; for his second contract, he only had to get x-rays, and there was no need for vaccinations or delousing; he worked for the North Pacific in North Dakota; in addition, he describes how lottery chips were used to determine which city braceros would work in; he also provides a detailed narration of the long journeys by train from one city to the next; while working as a bracero, he would often write letters for others who could not write; he also describes one corrido that was written and composed while he was in the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Juan Sanchez Abasta by Violeta Mena, 2005, "Interview no. 1144," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.