Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Catalino Díaz was born on April 30, 1925, in Acatepec, Guerrero, México; he was the second born in a family of twelve; his father worked the land, and his mother was a housewife; when he was six years old, he started selling goods in order to help support his family; consequently, he never went to school; during the late thirties, he began working in the mines, where he remained employed for a total of fourteen years.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Díaz describes his family and what his life was like growing up; when he was roughly thirty-five years old, he wanted to join the bracero program; his parents were reluctant to let him go; they thought he was too naïve, especially because he could not read, and they did not trust the United States; in spite of their worries, with his uncle’s help and a few of his cousins, he enlisted near Iguala [de la Independencia], Guerrero, México; he details the contracting center he went through in Empalme, Sonora, and the difficulties he faced while there; more specifically, he details the medical exams and fumigation that were part of the overall hiring process; he was transported by train to Mexicali, Baja California, before being taken to Manteca, California, to pick grapes and strawberries; his employer provided him with the necessary materials for work, and he renewed his contract onsite; he mentions that at times, he was barely paid enough to cover food expenses; moreover, there was not always not enough work, and he often had to go with another rancher; cherries were his favorite to pick, because he was paid well; he goes on to discuss the daily routine, caring for different crops, provisions, remittances, and recreational activities; in addition, he talks about braceros and undocumented workers laboring in the fields together; the foreman would give a warning whenever immigration officials showed up at the camps; Catalino ultimately left the United States, because there was not enough work or money; in spite of this, his overall memories of the program are positive.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Catalino Díaz Villa by Anais Acosta, 2008, "Interview no. 1340," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.