Isidro Herrera Ortega

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Herrera talks about his hometown and working in agriculture and with livestock while growing up; he knew about the bracero program when it first started in the early 1940s; a number of men joined and returned, including his father and some of his uncles; Isidro decided to follow in their footsteps and enlisted in 1955 with the hopes of having a better life; to begin the contracting process, he traveled by bus to Irapuato, Guanajuato, México; later, he also went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, México; the center in Irapuato was situated on an old military camp, and it held between thirty and forty thousand people at a time; he also describes the medical exams and required documents; some men were on lists of available workers by municipalities, while others were not and relied solely on the people they knew at the center in order to go through; Isidro waited four months to obtain a contract; from there he was transported by bus to Mexicali, Baja California, México; once he crossed the border, he was examined again; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona and California cleaning, pruning, watering, picking and packing grapes, lettuce and tomatoes; he also goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, correspondence and contract lengths and renewals; moreover, he mentions an accident in which a bus crashed and killed roughly fifteen braceros.