Violeta Mena


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Jesus Aceves Gutierres was born on August 15, 1939, in Tototlán, Jalisco, México; he is the second oldest of eight brothers and five sisters; he received little formal schooling, but his mother taught him to read and write; in 1957, he joined the bracero program; he worked in Coachella, California picking cotton, dates, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges; he left the program in 1960 and later returned to California to pick dates.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Aceves Gutierres recalls his childhood in Tototlán, Jalisco, México; he explains that his father was a wealthy man, and that his mother educated him; at age eleven, he began working in agriculture; he remembers joining the bracero program in 1957 and traveling to Empalme, Sonora, México for his contract; moreover, he relates what the contracting process was like, how he was treated by officials, and what physical exams he was given; he describes being taken to the border in trucks, and how he was deloused in El Centro, California; he expresses felling humiliated during this process; furthermore, he explains how braceros were picked for work at El Centro and then taken to their worksites; he worked in Coachella, California until 1960, picking cotton, dates, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges; he details daily life as a bracero, the work he did, how much he was paid, and how many hours he worked; more specifically, he outlines the differences between getting hourly pay versus contract pay, as well as how deductions were made to his paychecks for food; he details bracero living arrangements, the bad quality of the food they received, and how they were treated by foremen; he also discusses labor unions that were developed in the fields; in addition, he remembers how he was discriminated against by police officers; he states he returned to Coachella with papers after the program finished; beyond his bracero experience, he relates that he is a writer and composer; he also states that he once had a close encounter with a UFO.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

71 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1202

Transcript Number

No. 1202

Length of Transcript

44 pages

Interview Number

No. 1202

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.