Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Daniel Molina was born in Pénjamo, Guanajuato, México; his parents worked on an ejido, and he had ten siblings; growing up, he helped his parents while going to school; as a result, he received little education and learned to read and write poorly; in 1959, he enlisted in the bracero program; he completed two contracts, which spanned four years; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California cleaning, pruning, cutting and packing almonds, lettuce, nectarines, peaches and tomatoes; he eventually immigrated to the United States and ultimately became a citizen.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Molina briefly talks about his family; in 1959, he decided to enlist in the bracero program, and he began the contracting process in Empalme, Sonora, México; he details the entire contracting process he underwent in México and the United States; moreover, he explains having to go to Mexicali, Baja California, México to get papers as a specialized worker and then returning to Empalme to finally obtain a contract; he was transported by train with roughly fifteen thousand other men in seventy-five box cars; they traveled for two days in extremely hot weather, and their water ran out after only a few hours; upon arriving in the United States, they were stripped, deloused and examined; he slept at the reception center for a few days before finally being transported to his worksite; in total, he completed two contracts, which spanned four years; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of California cleaning, pruning, cutting and packing almonds, lettuce, nectarines, peaches and tomatoes; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, friendships, payments, deductions, remittances and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he relates a number of anecdotes about his experiences; in particular, he talks about an incident in which a rivalry between a cook and the workers became so out of hand that the cook was deported to México, and the men were left unable to harvest the crops; eventually, he immigrated to the United States and ultimately became a citizen.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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GMR Transcription Service
Interview with Daniel Molina by Janet Sandoval, 2008, "Interview no. 1415," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.