Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Herminio Martinez was born in Totatiche, Jalisco, México; he had about fourteen or fifteen siblings, but only ten, five women and five men, are living; although he was not formally educated for very long, he learned to read and write as an adult; in 1962, he enlisted in the bracero program, and he worked in Texas; in 1980, he married, and he and his wife had two sons.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martinez recalls learning about the bracero program through the television; in 1962, he decided to enlist in the program; his father borrowed five hundred pesos to help him on the condition that he would in turn pay fifty dollars; Herminio describes going through a processing center in Chihuahua, México, where there were many people; he then went to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, where there were so many people that they all slept on the floor; from there, the men were transported by bus to a reception center where they were medically examined, which included blood samples, x-rays, and being fumigated; when they were stripped, they were laughed at and taunted; as a bracero, he worked in Lubbock and Plainview, Texas, picking cucumbers; he explains that he had to stay hunched over all day from 6:00 AM until 12:00 PM, at which point he was given a half hour lunch before returning to work again until 5:00 PM; in essence, he worked hunched over for ten hours a day without any breaks; he also mentions that the braceros were referred to by number, not by name; during his free time he would play poker or go to the movie theater, which was only a few blocks away; the foremen treated the men very badly by yelling at them and threatening to return them to México if they did not work hard enough; in addition, he recalls the day President Kennedy was assassinated; years later, in 1980, he married, and he and his wife had two sons.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Herminio Martinez by Mónica Pelayo, 2006, "Interview no. 1155," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.