Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Anselmo Gamez was born on April 21, 1928, in Villa Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, México; when he was three years old, his mother died; shortly thereafter, he and his family moved in with his grandmother; although his father remarried, he continued to care for his family; in 1955, Anselmo enlisted in the bracero program; he worked primarily in California picking cantaloupe, cotton, dates, and lettuce, and he also used to water the crops; with the help of one of his employers, he was ultimately able to gain citizenship.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gamez briefly talks about his family and childhood; initially, he learned about the bracero program through word of mouth, because people were often given the necessary credentials for the program in town; he went through contracting centers in Guadalajara, Jalisco, and Empalme, Sonora; while in Empalme, a representative from an American company was there to recruit workers; he also describes the journey from the centers to the border; as a bracero he worked primarily in California picking cantaloupe, cotton, dates, and lettuce, and he also used to water the crops; he goes on to detail the various worksites, duties, housing, amenities, treatment, provisions, and payment; in addition, he talks about one instance where he was watering the crops in over one hundred degree weather, when he stopped to get a drink of water, and he was reprimanded; consequently, he complained, and he was sent to work elsewhere; soon after, there was an incident in which he and other workers were given inedible food, and when they objected, the situation was quickly resolved; he goes on to describe how their living quarters were burglarized one day while they were eating lunch; the thief was a local teenager who was apprehended, and the workers’ belongings were soon returned; moreover, he repeatedly makes reference to the fact that he had both good and bad experiences; he was ultimately able to gain citizenship with the help of one of his employers; despite all his negative experiences, his overall memories of the program are good.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Anselmo Gamez by Grisel Murillo, 2006, "Interview no. 1217," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.