Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Santos Cruz Hernández was born on January 1, 1924, on an ejido in the small municipality of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; he came from a big family with fourteen siblings; his father worked on an hacienda caring for livestock; Santos was not formally educated, but he learned a lot from his father; by the time Santos was fourteen years old, he was helping his father care for the animals; in 1945, Santos enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, Michigan and Texas, picking apples, beans, beets, cotton, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and oranges; he obtained nine different bracero contracts in total.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Cruz briefly talks about his family and his parents in particular; he recalls the difficulties they faced living on an ejido; in 1942, he learned about the bracero program and how some men worked on the railroads; a few years later, in 1945, he decided to enlist in the program; he usually traveled by bus to the contracting centers with groups of fifteen to thirty men; roughly eighty men from his ejido joined the program; from the center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, he was transported to Hidalgo, Texas, where ranchers picked the workers they wanted; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, Michigan and Texas, picking apples, beans, beets, cotton, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and oranges; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, duties, treatment, correspondence and recreational activities; his first contract was only sixty days, but after returning to México, he obtained a new contract a week later; he also explains the differences between working in Texas and Arkansas; moreover, in Lubbock, Texas he was able to earn good money; his favorite place to work was in Michigan, where he was treated especially well; the wives of his employers saw him as another son, which afforded him a great working relationship; in total, he obtained nine different bracero contracts; overall, he has positive memories of his time with the program.
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Interview with Santos Cruz Hernández by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1431," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.