Faustino Martínez


Violeta Mena


Bracero Oral History

Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee

Faustino Martínez was born on August 13, 1926, in Cruz Grande, Guerrero, Mexico; his mother, Epimenia Balanzar, was a housewife and she also made clay pots; his father, Tomás, worked in agriculture; Mr. Martínez had fourteen siblings; only he and three others survived past infancy; he began working with his father in the fields at a very young age and consequently never received any formal schooling; later, in 1957, he became a bracero and worked in the fields of California picking carrots, lettuce and beets; his last bracero contract was in 1962; he later immigrated to the United States.

Summary of Interview

Mr. Martínez briefly recalls his childhood and the work that his father and mother did; he was in his hometown when he heard about the bracero program; he decided to enlist in the bracero program and went through the contracting center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he was stripped and medically examined; he details the harsh conditions he and other men endured while waiting there; he was sent by train to Mexicali; upon crossing into the United States, he was deloused and so were his luggage and clothing; he travelled by Greyhound bus to his first contract in the San Joaquin Valley, California in May of 1957; he returned to Mexicali and contracted to go to the Imperial Valley where he worked in the carrot fields; he became ill and was sent to the hospital; his next contract was in Holtville, California where he worked with a short-handled hoe in the lettuce fields; he states that they were forced to remain hunched over while working; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, payments, deductions, remittances to his parents, treatment, correspondence and recreational activities; he recalls that in El Centro, they closed the camp during Holy Week and the braceros were left without food; they complained and the contractor was no longer allowed to contract braceros; some braceros would go dancing and drinking on the weekends; he met his wife in Mexicali after his last contract; he and his wife had eight children; with the help of his boss he became a U.S. resident.

Date of Interview


Length of Interview

70 minutes

Tape Number

No. 1300

Transcript Number

No. 1300

Length of Transcript

49 pages

Interview Number

No. 1300

Terms of Use



Interview in Spanish.