Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Roberto Martínez Cordero was born May 16, 1940, in Tepic, Nayarit, México; he had twelve siblings; in 1959, when he was nineteen years old, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California, picking carrots, cotton, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, peaches and tomatoes; in 1962, he immigrated to the United States and met his wife; they married in 1964, and they went on to have three children and seven grandchildren.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez talks about working for a company that processed tobacco prior to deciding to enlist in the bracero program; in 1959, when he was nineteen years old, he traveled to Tijuana, Baja California, México, where his sister lived, to begin the process by getting on the list of available workers; from there he went to Empalme, Sonora, México, where he was quickly examined and then transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, México; while there, he underwent more extensive exams before arriving at the work camp in Arizona; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California, picking carrots, cotton, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, peaches and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, living conditions, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, relationships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; moreover, he recalls pointing out the mistakes one foreman made while calculating numbers before the checks were made and getting into trouble; the foreman did not appreciate it, and the workers were no longer allowed to see any of the paperwork prior to receiving their checks; during another contract, officials checked to make sure the men had heaters, which they did not; his employers were forced to provide heaters, but when the officials left, they lowered the temperature, which essentially left cold air circulating; in Arizona, they were able to visit family in México on weekends; he immigrated to the United States in 1962 and met his wife; they married in 1964, and they went on to have three children and seven grandchildren.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Roberto Martínez Cordero by Amy Taylor, 2008, "Interview no. 1407," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.