Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Zenon Martínez Banda was born in Lagunillas, San Luis Potosí, México; his father worked on a milpa; as a boy, he helped his father work in the fields growing corn and green beans; he was never formally educated; while in his early twenties, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Montana cleaning, pruning and picking cotton and tomatoes; during his time with the program, he married and had three children; he and his wife later had two more children, five in total.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Martínez recalls hearing people talk favorably about the bracero program and wanting to enlist; while in his early twenties, he decided to join the bracero program; he describes the requirements and necessary paperwork to enlist; additionally, he recounts going through the center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México and entering the United States through Hidalgo, Texas; he also went through the center in Chihuahua and Sonora, México and entered through El Paso, Texas and Nogales, Arizona, respectively; Zenon also describes the medical exams and fumigation procedures he underwent; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arizona, California and Montana cleaning, pruning and picking cotton and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, routines, payments, deductions, treatment, contract lengths and recreational activities; although he usually obtained forty-five day contracts, he did work for six months in Wilcox, Arizona and one year in Peoria, Arizona; during his time with the program, he married and had three children; he and his wife later had two more children, five in total.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Listen to the Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Zenon Martínez Banda by Itzel Kuckle, 2008, "Interview no. 1355," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.
Interview in Spanish.