Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Manuel Ortiz Orozco was born June 17, 1927, on a ranch in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México; he was the youngest of his five siblings; his father worked his own land planting beans, corn and wheat; by the time Manuel was seven years old, he was helping his father in the fields; Manuel’s older brothers enlisted in the bracero program, and in 1955, he also joined; as a bracero, he worked in Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning, irrigating and picking beets and cotton and caring for livestock; later, in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Ortiz briefly talks about his family and childhood; his older brothers enlisted in the bracero program, and in 1955, he also joined; he went through the contracting center in his hometown of Chihuahua, which he explains was called El Trocadero; if men did not have the proper documentation, they had to pay seventy-five pesos; the men were also examined by American doctors and asked questions about working the land; they were transported to El Paso, Texas in trains used to haul metal; consequently, upon arriving, they were all black and dirty; afterward, they were deloused, which he describes as being bathed in poison; they were not given time to clean or bathe before their photos were taken; the men were taken to their worksites in trailers used for cattle, which had seats and were actually comfortable; in spite of their suffering, Manuel recalls that they were happy, because they had work; as a bracero, he worked in Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas cleaning, pruning, irrigating and picking beets and cotton and caring for livestock; he goes on to detail the various worksites, housing, living conditions, accommodations, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, contract lengths and renewals, friendships, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates several anecdotes about his experiences with the program until it ended in 1964; during his time as a bracero, he married and had two children; in 1969, he immigrated to the United States, and he ultimately became a citizen.
Date of Interview
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Interview with Manuel Ortiz Orozco by Marina Kalashnikova, 2008, "Interview no. 1363," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.