Laureano Martínez


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Cornelio Soto was born on September 16, 1938, in San Pedro de Azafranes, Durango, México; he was the youngest of five brothers; his father died nine days after he was born; he worked as a bracero from 1956 to 1960 in California; during this time, he cultivated and irrigated cotton, lettuce, onions, sugar beets, and tomatoes.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Soto grew up in Otáez, Durango, México; economic hardship led him to leave the country in the 1950s; after working for two years at the México-U.S. border, he became a bracero in 1956; he describes how he survived in Empalme, Sonora, México while waiting to go through the processing center, how he got his first bracero contract, and his trip to the border; additionally, he explains the bracero hiring process, the medical exams he endured, the reception center in California, and his trip to a farm; he details their daily activities, their housing, their wages, their hobbies, and the food they ate; furthermore, he remembers working in a kitchen, as well as the treatment he received from foremen; he relates how he gained the trust of the foreman and how he became second in command; moreover, he also recollects his loneliness and his decision to return to México; this decision made him miss the opportunity to become a legal U.S. resident, but allowed him to start his own business; he explains why he believes the Bracero Program should still be in operation and how the experience changed his life.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

116 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1022

Transcript Number

No. 1022

Length of Transcript

67 pages

Interview Number

No. 1022

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.

Quality of audio is uneven.