Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Manuel Montes Robles was born on May 14, 1924, in Tres Palos, Jalisco, Mexico; his birth was registered at Magdalena, Jalisco, Mexico; he was the second of four children; his father was a day laborer and his mother was a merchant; he was a shoemaker; he was formally educated through the fifth grade; in 1946, he became a bracero and remained working as such until 1960; he worked in Brawley, Salinas, and Soledad, California primarily in the lettuce, strawberry, and carrot fields.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Montes Robles talks about his hometown and what his life was like growing up; he recalls traveling and looking for work; in the process, he lost track of his family, however, he eventually found them; Mr. Montes and his brother began crossing illegally in search of employment; he learned of the bracero program through a newspaper ad; in 1946, he decide to enlist in the bracero program and went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he recalls the entire process, including lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation to and from the center; as part of the process, he was medically examined and deloused; as a bracero he labored in the lettuce and strawberry fields of Salinas, California; he describes the use of the short-handled hoe while working in the lettuce fields; he also worked at Camp Star (Salinas, California), making carrot bundles; in addition, he worked in Imperial Valley, in the cucumber and tomato fields; he details the living conditions, deductions, friendships, treatment, correspondence and entertainment; his younger brother, also a bracero, died while working in the fields of Watsonville, California; Mr. Montes believes that his brother’s death was due to a physical altercation; he details how they were able to return his brother’s body to his wife in Mexicali, Mexico; Mr. Montes recalls being able to get his laser visa, however, he never immigrated to the U.S.; his overall memories as a bracero are positive; he says he is proud to be called a bracero.
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Interview with Manuel Montes Robles by Anaís Acosta, 2006, "Interview no. 1302," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.