Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Guadalupe Mena Arizmendi was born on a ranch near Buenavista, Guerrero, México, on December 26, 1928; his family worked in agriculture, and he had little formal schooling; he married at age eighteen, and when he was twenty, he entered the bracero program; as a bracero he worked in California, Minnesota, and Texas, picking beets, cabbage, carrots, cotton, and potatoes.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Mena recalls growing up on a small ranch where his family worked in agriculture; he only had a few years of formal schooling, because he had to help with daily chores; at age eighteen, he married, and when he was twenty, he entered the bracero program; he details what the contracting process was like in Empalme, Sonora, México, as well as in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; additionally, he states that more than twenty-five thousand men waited to be processed in those centers every day; in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México, many fights broke out amongst the men; he also describes the medical exams they were given, how they were forced to be naked, and how their hands were inspected for calluses; moreover, he discusses what his trips to the border were like and how he crossed through Calexico, California, and El Paso, Texas; he explains how employers picked workers, and what food they received at Rio Vista, a processing center in El Paso; as a bracero he worked in California, Minnesota, and Texas picking beets, cabbage, carrots, cotton, and potatoes; furthermore, he discusses his daily work and the treatment he received from employers and foremen, which was often very poor; he states what their living quarters were like, the bad food he received in California, and how he was treated well in Minnesota; consequently, he sent money to his family every fifteen days; he goes on to explain how he brought his family to the United States in the late seventies; although he suffered many hardships, he feels good about having worked as a bracero.
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Interview with Guadalupe Mena Arizmendi by Crystal Barrios, 2005, "Interview no. 1275," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.