Mireya Loza


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

José Humberto Félix Beltrán was born in Chacala, Durango, México, on October 11, 1932; as a child, he moved around a lot; in 1954, he enlisted in the bracero program; he worked in California for the next six years, primarily loading carrots; while laboring as a bracero he met a woman whom he later married; they continued working together in the fields, and they gradually built a family and a home in the United States.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Félix acquired his first bracero contract in 1954, which took him to El Centro, California; his first year was the hardest, because he did not know what to do or how to work quickly enough to earn a profit; oftentimes, men who were new ended up owing money after only one week of work; when his contract ended he was given a special workers card, which allowed him to pass through a contracting center in San Luis, Sonora, México, within a day; he also mentions that he was given vaccinations, without ever being told what they were for, and deloused, which was humiliating; even so, he had to tolerate it in order to work; after a year he had saved enough to buy a car; by 1956, he had a U.S. driver’s license and was able to drive himself to work; José continued working as a bracero in California, primarily loading carrots, until 1960; he goes on to detail the various worksites, living conditions, housing, provisions, treatment, duties, daily routines, payment, recreational activities, incentives, and special privileges; in 1957, he married a woman who worked with him bundling carrots; he explains that in each cuadrilla or group of about one hundred and twenty, roughly thirty were local women; because he specialized in loading, he was able to rent an apartment instead of living in the camps, and whenever his work took him to a different city, he was able to take his wife with him; over time, they gradually built a family and a home in the United States; having been a bracero brings him certain joy, however, he is also saddened by how much some suffered.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

50 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1297

Transcript Number

No. 1297

Length of Transcript

25 pages

Interview Number

No. 1297

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.