Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Valentín Murillo Ortiz was born in 1932, on a ranch in Michoacán, México; his parents worked on an ejido, and he had five siblings; he was formally educated through the third grade; as a young boy, he helped his family by working in the fields and caring for animals; his mother died when he was a teenager; the family moved to México, Distrito Federal; he eventually married, in 1953; two years later, in 1955, he enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in Arkansas, California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, green beans and tomatoes; his last bracero contract was in 1961; he later immigrated to the United States.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Murillo briefly talks about his family and what life was like growing up on an ejido; in 1955, he decided to enlist in the bracero program and went through the contracting center in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; he recalls the entire process, including lists of eligible workers, waiting times, and transportation to and from the center; in addition, he mentions going through centers in Empalme, Sonora and Monterrey, Nuevo León, México; he was also briefly examined at the centers and again, in more detail, at the border; although he suffered greatly during processing, once he began working in the United States, his situation improved; as a bracero, he labored in Arkansas, California and Texas, picking asparagus, beets, cotton, green beans and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, amenities, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, contract lengths, correspondence, friendships and recreational activities, including trips into town; moreover, he explains that although some contracts were only forty-five days, it was not uncommon to stay an additional fifteen days without renewing the contract; many men deserted, because forty-five days was not a sufficient amount of time to earn enough money, especially given the debt they incurred coming to the United States; in 1961, he completed his last contract; he ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1995, with the help of his son.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Valentín Murillo Ortiz by Marina Kalashnikova, 2008, "Interview no. 1358," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.