Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Jesus Villalba C was born in Oacaca, México, on August 14, 1933; his mother’s name was María Cipriana Vega, and his father’s name was Camerina Villalba Reyes; Ismael had three brothers and two sisters; he married during his early twenties; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Texas, picking chile, cotton, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes until 1964; he and his wife had three children; the family immigrated to the United States, and Ismael became a legal permanent resident.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Villalba talks about his family and what his life was like growing up in México; during his early twenties he married; economic necessity drove him to enlist in the bracero program in 1959; his wife was reluctant to let him go for fear he would get sick, injured or not return; as part of the contracting process, he went through the center in Empalme, Sonora, México, where he waited for thirteen days; he underwent medical exams in México and the United States; moreover, he was also fumigated upon entering the United States; during this process, he suffered greatly, because he was treated like an animal; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Texas, picking chile, cotton, green beans, lettuce and tomatoes until 1964; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, deductions, remittances, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates a few anecdotes about his experiences; he and his wife went on to have three children; the family immigrated to the United States, and Ismael became a legal permanent resident; overall, he has positive memories of the program, because it changed his life and allowed him to provide a better life for his wife and children.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Jesus Villalba C. by Annette Shreibati, 2006, "Interview no. 1257," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.