Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Gonzalo Soto was born on January 10, 1934, in San Pedro de Azafranes, Durango, México; he was the fourth of eleven siblings; at age eight, he started working in agriculture to help his father; at age seventeen, he decided to cross the México/United States border to acquire work as an undocumented laborer; in 1954, he joined the Bracero Program and worked in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas; there, he picked and irrigated carrots, cotton, lettuce, limes, potatoes, and tomatoes; he performed these duties until 1963.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Soto grew up in Otáez, Durango, México; in 1954, he joined the Bracero Program; he worked in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Texas; recalling the hiring process, he discusses the contracting center in Mexicali, Baja California, México; he describes the medical exams performed by Mexican and American doctors, and the bracero reception center in El Centro, California; additionally, he remembers their daily activities, their housing, the food they ate and their curfew; he also details the kinds of contracts they had, the wages they got, and the treatment they received from foremen; furthermore, he relates what the relationship between braceros was like, how they used interpreters on the farms, and the complaints brought up by braceros; he recounts the activities they engaged in during weekends, their hobbies, and how he sent money to his family in México; moreover, he explains his life after the program, why he decided to return to the U.S. as an undocumented worker, and the difficulty he had finding a job; he continues to discuss the time when he decided to move back to México and why he has positive memories of his experience as a bracero.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Gonzalo Soto Núñez by Laureano Martínez, 2003, "Interview no. 1021," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.