Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
J. Jesús Villaseñor Santoyo was the third born of his eight siblings; growing up, his family often moved around, but they spent most of their time in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México; although Jesús was never formally educated, he learned to read and write as an adult; in 1955, he followed in his uncle’s footsteps and enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California picking various fruits and vegetables; in 1960, he married and ultimately stayed in México with his wife and children.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Villaseñor talks about his life growing up; during the midforties, his uncle fulfilled several bracero contracts; Jesús saw how well it went for his uncle, and in 1955, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he describes how he was able to get on the list of eligible workers in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México; from there, he was transported by airplane to Mexicali, Baja California, México, and then to Calexico, California, where ranchers picked the workers they wanted; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California picking various fruits and vegetables; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, payments, deductions, correspondence, working relationships, and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he mentions a strike for better pay in Merced, California; the Mexican consul stepped in and convinced the braceros to stop the strike; while working in Salinas, California, he became ill with fever and was even urinating blood; he was properly cared for and quickly recovered; after each contract, he returned to México and worked in the fields there; by the late fifties he had to go to the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, México, because there were no longer any contracts in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México; later, in 1960, he married and ultimately decided to stop working as a bracero to stay with his wife in México; they went on to have six children together.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with J. Jesus Villaseñor Santoyo by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1398," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.