Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Esteban Chavez was born in Colonia Esperanza, Chihuahua, Mexico and grew up in Juarez; he recalls his father crossing the river daily to work in the fields, with his earnings he bought land and grew cotton and wheat; Mr. Chavez attended school until he was eight years old because his father needed help; he recalls the school had no chairs or desk, he rotated weeks with his brother so they could attend school.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Chavez recalls that in 1943 he tried to go as a bracero but was rejected because of his age; once he turned eighteen he was contracted along with his two older brothers; he recalls it taking two days to sign his contract, consequently they slept on the floor near the train; he recalls the health check by Mexican doctors, having their hands inspected, and being disinfected for lice; he recalls working in El Paso, making .40 cents a pound, and driving large machinery; he remembers fifty men sleeping in a barrack, using the river to bathe, and not having a bathroom; he explains that he and his brothers rotated cooking and would spend a total of four dollars a week on groceries; he recalls illegals would work alongside them and were paid the same amount; he points out that immigration agents were not brutal but respectful; he explains how he brought his family to the United States and became an American citizen; he explains how he worked in the train tracks near Texas Western College, and hearing the explosions from the mines.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Mayra L. Avila
Interview with Esteban Chavez by Manuel Sanmiguel, 2008, "Interview No. 1601," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.