Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Manuel Romero was born on October 5, 1914, in San José de Gracia, Sinaloa, Mexico; he had three sisters; his father worked in agriculture; his mother died when he was three years old; after his father’s death, he was raised by his godfather; Mr. Romero owned several ranches in Mexicali, Mexico; he married his common law wife; they had twelve children; he also raised two nephews; he was a bracero for five years; he worked in Winterhaven, Yuma, and La Mesa California; he and his family later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Manuel Romero talks about his hometown and working in agriculture and with livestock while growing up; he and his sisters were orphans; he was sent to live with his godfather; he details the harsh treatment he endured while living with his godfather; he owned several ranches in Mexicali, Mexico but he sold some of the land because he did not have water to irrigate; he briefly talks about U.S.- Mexico relations and irrigation; in 1954, he heard about a call for braceros; in 1957, he traveled to the processing center in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico; he details the harsh conditions he and other men endured during the medical exams; as part of the process, they were stripped, deloused, checked for hemorrhoids, and had their blood drawn; some of the bracero fainted; he worked as a heavy machinery operator and as a field irrigator; in Yuma, he worked twenty-four hour intervals; in La Mesa, he worked twelve hour intervals; he was paid sixty cents an hour; he goes on to detail the camp size, living conditions, provisions, duties, payments, deductions for food, remittances, treatment, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities; men that were not braceros lived in the camp as well; as a bracero, he endured discrimination; he had soda thrown in his face on several occasions; many braceros would drink and attend dances on Saturday and Sunday; Mr. Romero did additional work that was not part of his bracero contract; the foreman would take Mr. Romero to his home to clean his garden and wash his car on the weekends; he mentions the United Farm Workers movement and the murder of Rufino Contreras; although he did suffer as a bracero, his overall memories of the program are positive.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Manuel Romero by Verónica Cortez, 2006, "Interview no. 1314," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.