Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz was born in Santa Ana del Pilar, Matamoros, Coahuila, México; he was the older of two sons; his father worked in agriculture and died before Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz’s first birthday; his mother supported them by taking in laundry and ironing for others; he was formally educated through the first grade; when he was eight years old, he began working in agriculture; he heard about the bracero program when he was fifteen years old; when he was twenty-five years old he became a bracero; he married and is the father of eleven children; he worked forty-five days in the cotton fields of Texas.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Cortinaz Ortíz briefly recalls his childhood and the financial difficulties he and his family endured; he talks about his hometown and working in agriculture while growing up; he married ten days before he joined the bracero program; when he was twenty-five years old, he heard about a call for braceros and decided to enlist in the program; he traveled to the contracting center in Monterrey, México; he details the harsh conditions he and the other men endured while waiting at the center; his first contract took him to work in the cotton fields of Texas; he goes on to detail the living conditions, provisions, duties, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; he recalls that his brother was in charge of reading the letters and handling his remittances because he was the only one that could read or write; he also recalls that the foreman would take some of the braceros to drink in Piedras Negras, México on the weekends; after he completed his contract, he returned to México and worked in agriculture; he did not renew his bracero contract.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Nicasio Cortinas Ortíz by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1391," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.