Violeta Domínguez


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Heleodoro Martínez was born in Metepec, Hidalgo, México; he was the third of six brothers; at an early age, he worked in agriculture; as a teenager, he worked in construction; he joined the Bracero Program in 1951, and worked in California and Texas; there, he picked carrots, celery, cotton, green peppers, lemons, oranges, and tomatoes.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Martínez recalls growing up in Metepec, Hidalgo, México, and working from an early age in agriculture and construction; he remembers that, in 1951, he joined the Bracero Program after suffering economic hardships; additionally, he describes the hiring process in rural areas, the legal requirements he needed to fulfill to get on a list of people who could become braceros, and the bribes he had to pay to get on that list; he details what the contracting centers were like in Irapuato, Guanajuato, México and Empalme, Sonora, México, the physical exams he endured, his experience in the reception center in Calexico, California, and how the disinfection process was carried out; furthermore, he relates his daily activities on the farms, the treatment he received from foremen, and what his housing and food was like; he also expresses what braceros did during weekends, and what they did for entertainment; moreover, he explains his hopes when he joined the bracero program, the hardships he and other braceros endured in the United States, and his feelings of loneliness and sadness during his time in the program.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

167 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1038

Transcript Number

No. 1038

Length of Transcript

87 pages

Interview Number

No. 1038

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.