Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Interviewee: Juan Aguilar Lopes was born on August 21, 1931, in Jiquilpan, Michoacán, México; he is the youngest of four siblings; at an early age, he began working in agriculture with his family; he never received formal schooling; in 1950, he entered the United States as an undocumented worker, and shortly thereafter decided to join the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in California and Texas picking cotton, peaches and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Aguilar Lopes remembers his childhood growing up in Jiquilpan, Michoacán, México; he states he worked from an early age in agriculture, resulting in him never attending a formal school; as an adult, he taught himself to read and write, and his wife helped him learn to manage his finances; in 1950, he entered the United States as an undocumented worker, and shortly thereafter decided to join the bracero program; he explains he was contracted the first time in Mexicali, Baja California, México and details what the contracting process was like; specifically, he describes how officials performed medical exams, which included blood tests; once in the United States, he states that farmers would pick workers from the processing center at a location he called La Asociación; he worked in California and Texas picking cotton, peaches and tomatoes; in addition, he describes what daily life was like for braceros, the living quarters they had, the food they ate, and what they did for recreation; moreover, he relates the difficulty of the work braceros did, and the pay they received; he specifies that deductions were made to his paycheck to cover food costs; furthermore, he states how he communicated via letters with his family, and how he sent money back to México; to conclude, he recounts how he legally brought his family to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Juan Aguilar Lopes by Alma Carrillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1204," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.