Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Alejandro Ruteaga was born on April 12, 1932, in Rodeo, Durango, México; he was the third of ten siblings; at the age of eight, he began helping his father with agricultural tasks; when he was eighteen, he crossed the border into the United States to become an undocumented worker in California; he entered the Bracero Program in 1953, and he worked in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming; his jobs included picking almonds, apricots, asparagus, cauliflower, cotton, grapes, lettuce, olives, and strawberries; he performed these duties until 1964.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ruteaga recalls his childhood and the stories his father told about the Mexican Revolution; in 1953, he entered the Bracero Program; he describes the hiring process in Durango, Durango, México, the requirements, and the medical exams performed by American doctors at Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas; he worked in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming; additionally, he recounts daily activities, what braceros did on weekends, their contracts, and their wages; he states that ranchers hired undocumented workers along with braceros; furthermore, he relates how representatives from the Mexican consulate visited their camps to settle their complaints; he also discusses the discrimination the braceros suffered; addressing his time after the program, he explains why he became an undocumented worker, his thoughts on why ranchers hire undocumented workers, and his pride in having been a bracero; he concludes by stating his reasons for living in México and not migrating to the United States.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Alejandro Ruteaga Rivas by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1017," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.