Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Bautista R. was born in 1924, in Tonaya, Jalisco, México; he had three brothers and two sisters, both of whom passed away; they were all born on a ranch and came from a family of agricultural workers; his father hired a tutor for the children, but Jesús never liked school, consequently, only his brothers were formally educated; by the time he was twelve years old, both his parents had passed away; in 1956, Jesús enlisted in the bracero program, and he labored primarily in California, picking blackberries, cherries, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes; after the program ended, he worked in the United States illegally for a time, but he was later able to obtain legal documentation.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Bautista briefly discusses his family and childhood; he was married in 1947, and he and his wife later had four children; by 1956, his wife became very ill, which prompted him to enlist in the bracero program in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México; from there he was transported to Empalme, Sonora, México, then to Mexicali, Baja California, México, where he underwent medical examinations; as a bracero, he labored primarily in California, picking blackberries, cherries, pears, strawberries, and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the different worksites, duties, schedules, living conditions, provisions, housing, accommodations, payments, and remittances; in addition, he describes an instance in which a foreman separated him and eleven other men from the rest of the braceros to offer them permanent work, housing, and the opportunity to bring their families to the United States; he turned down the chance, because he wanted to return to México, with his family, where he was most comfortable; furthermore, he explains that as a bracero he was paid poorly and often just earned enough to pay for food; even so, he was able to pay off his home in México; after the program ended, he worked in the United States illegally for a time, but he was later able to obtain legal documentation.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jesus Bautista R. by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1146," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.