Claro Ruiz Ortíz

Interview in Spanish.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Ortíz talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; in 1956, he decided to enlist in the bracero program, because there was no work in México; he went through the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, and he describes the process as very long and sad; thousands of men were waiting, and they were divided into groups, stripped and examined altogether in a large room; he explains that if he had proof he had already worked as a bracero, he was able to pass through more quickly; from there, he was transferred in a cargo train that had previously been filled with metals to the border in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México; upon crossing into the United States, he was deloused and further examined before going to the worksite; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Utah cleaning, pruning and picking apples, beets, cotton and pears; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, amenities, provisions, duties, routines, working relationships, payments, remittances, contract lengths, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; although he obtained yearly contracts from 1956 to 1959, in 1960, it was too hard, and he had to wait until the following year, which was his last; in addition, he offers several anecdotes about his experiences with the program, including attending religious services and celebrating holidays; overall, he has positive memories of his time as a bracero.