Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Roberto M. González was born on November 2, 1934, in Zacapu, Michoacán, Mexico; his father was a blacksmith and his mother was a housewife; he had eight siblings; he was formally educated through the fifth grade; in 1954, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; in 1962, he completed his last contract; he ultimately immigrated to the United States; he married in 1963; in 1987, he became a United States citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Roberto M. González briefly recalls his family and childhood; after growing tired of working with his father, he traveled to Mexicali, Mexico with a friend; he heard about a call for braceros and decided to enlist; he recalls that one of the requirements for the braceros was to have calloused hands; he paid ten dollars in order to be added to the list of eligible workers; on another occasion, he was required to pick two thousand kilos of cotton in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, Mexico; he traveled to the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he was sent to El Centro, California; 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 stripped, medically examined, and deloused; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions and correspondence; the braceros were fed very little; the company did not have adequate lodging so the braceros carpooled from San Luis to the camp daily; his first contract sent him to work for the Del Monte company in Woodland, California; his second contract sent him to work in the agricultural fields of Coachella, California; he also completed two contracts in Somerton Arizona where he worked in the cotton, lettuce, and melon fields; he injured his arm and was unable to work for several months; the Mexican Consul informed him that he was not going to be allowed to work for two years because he was medically disabled; he did not receive monetary assistance during that time; he recalls that many braceros would quit and travel back to Mexico on foot; in addition, he discusses clashes between farm workers affiliated with Cesar Chávez and the braceros; after the Bracero Program ended, Mr. Roberto M. González remained working for the same company; at the time of the interview, he resided in El Centro, California.
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Interview with Roberto M. González by Annete Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1326," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.