Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Martín Conejo is the son of Ernesto Conejo, who was a bracero during the late fifties and early sixties; Martin’s father, Ernesto, was born on a ranch, just outside of Morelia, Michoacán, México; his father died when he was young, and as the eldest of his siblings, he became the head of the family; he worked in a bicycle factory for a time before hearing about the bracero program; as a bracero, he worked in Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin, picking apples, corn, and tomatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martín Conejo is the son of Ernesto Conejo, who was a bracero during the late fifties and early sixties; Martín explains how much he admires his father for having been able to successfully work as a bracero in the United States in spite of the fact that he only had a third grade education; Ernesto was the first person from his ranch to work in the United States; he was initially contracted in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; while there he was physically examined and asked questions about his work experience; as a bracero, he worked in Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin, picking apples, corn, and tomatoes; after every contract, he would return to México; on occasions when he had to walk through the desert, he would survive on water and powder ground from garbanzo beans for three or four days; Martín goes on to describe his father’s memories of the different worksites, payment schedules, housing, living amenities, provisions, treatment, and remittances; he mentions an instance where there were problems with a foreman who would cheat the workers out of money; because Ernesto was a good cook, he would often leave work early to begin preparing meals while his fellow workers covered for him; in spite of this, he did witness tension between Mexicans even though there was plenty of work; overall, Ernesto spoke well of the bracero program; he was eventually able to arrange for his entire family to legally immigrate to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Martín Conejo by Mario Sifuentes, 2005, "Interview no. 1268," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.