Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Carlos Fuentes was born on November 18, 1932, in Uriangato, Guanajuato; he is the eldest of his five siblings; while going to school, he helped his father work the land, and as a result received very little formal education; his uncles served in the bracero program, and he wanted to follow in their footsteps in the hopes of financially helping his family; he worked off and on with the program from 1952 to 1955; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan, Texas, and Wyoming, picking beets, cotton, cucumbers, lemons, and lettuce; in 1962, with the help of his brother, he was able to emigrate to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Fuentes briefly describes his family, childhood, and adolescence; he becomes emotional and cries upon recalling his decision to become a bracero in the hopes of financially helping his family; initially, he went through the contracting center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, to enlist as a bracero; he goes on to explain the requirements, general exams, including immunizations and delousing procedures, and the overall process he underwent at the various centers he went through; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California, Michigan, Texas, and Wyoming, picking beets, cotton, cucumbers, lemons, and lettuce; he details the different worksites, duties, payment, deductions, treatment, contract renewals, living conditions, provisions, remittances, recreational activities, and relationships; in addition, he mentions having to carry his mica card or contract with him wherever he went; he also describes how the foremen were often very hard on all the workers; there was one instance in which he volunteered to help in Oxnard, California, after a huge fire, and he was paid very well for his work; in 1962, with the help of his brother, he was able to emigrate to the United States; overall, his memories of the program are positive, and he considers it a great satisfaction and privilege to have worked in the U.S. as a bracero.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Carlos Fuentes by Ivonne Cachu, 2006, "Interview no. 1180," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.