Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Pedro L. Lechuga was born May 19, 1933, in Namiquipa, Chihuahua, México; he had six siblings, three of whom passed away; his parents were agriculturalists; he was formally educated through the sixth grade; in 1952, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, cotton, cucumber and green beans until 1958; he later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Lechuga briefly mentions his family; he recalls hearing rumors about men earning a lot of money in the United States; in 1952, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; although his wife was against it, she knew he had to leave; he went through the center in Chihuahua, México, and he describes the necessary documents and medical exams he underwent; when crossing the border in El Paso, Texas, he endured further assessments; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning and picking beets, cotton, cucumber and green beans until 1958; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; in addition, he explains that while in Minnesota, the men were cheated; they were usually paid by the acre, but they were actually picking much more than that; their measurements showed they picked twenty acres but were only paid for fifteen; they complained and were ultimately able to remedy the situation; he also mentions that working in the beet fields was especially difficult and grueling; in 1958, his last contract took him to Pecos, Texas, where he only stayed for fifteen days, because the conditions were so poor; he later immigrated to the United States; overall, he still has positive memories of the program.
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Interview with Pedro L. Lechuga by Ivonne Méndez, 2008, "Interview no. 1351," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.