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.
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Interview with Martín Conejo by Mario Sifuentes, 2005, "Interview no. 1268," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.