José de la Luz Mares


Myrna Parra-Mantilla


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

José de la Luz Mares was born on May 15, 1918, in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; his father was a shoemaker, and he learned the trade from his father; in 1955, his family’s financial strains led him to the Bracero Program; he worked primarily in the cotton fields.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Mares recalls being trained as a shoemaker by his father; due to financial difficulties, he had to leave his father’s shoe store to look for work elsewhere; in 1955, he began the hiring process for the Bracero Program in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; he and other braceros were transported from Chihuahua, to El Paso, Texas, in freight cars that had previously been used to carry concentrated amounts of lead and zinc; the boxcars were not cleaned prior to being used to transported the braceros; in addition, the braceros were sealed in the cars and left there for the entirety of the trip, which took nearly two days; once they reached the port of entry in El Paso, they were taken to a basement and medically examined and deloused; from there they were taken to Rio Vista, a processing center in Socorro, Texas, where they had to wait for eight days before being taken to work; he recalls that there were many teachers, engineers, and other professionals working as braceros; he spent most of his time as a bracero working in cotton fields.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

53 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1134

Transcript Number

No. 1134

Length of Transcript

29 pages

Interview Number

No. 1134

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.