Bracero Oral History Project
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Mr. Ventura Gutiérrez was born on December 14, 1948, in Puruándiro, Michoacán, Mexico; he is the second oldest of eight children; his paternal grandfather was Joaquin Mendez Mendez and his paternal grandmother was Lucia Mendez Mendez; in 1950, his father moved the family to Coachella, California; his family lived on farmland that belonged to his uncles; both his father and his mother worked as field laborers; at the age of eleven, he made his first trip to Puruándiro, Michoacán, where he noticed the vast disparities in the standard of living compared to the United States; he promised his grandfather, an ex bracero, that he would do something to help change the standard of living in Puruándiro, Michoacán; he is an organizer with Bracero PROA.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Gutiérrez briefly recalls his childhood and the neighborhood he grew up in; he recalls accidently setting his home on fire while playing cowboys and Indians; they lost all of their belongings in the fire and as a result they moved to a Mexican barrio; he discusses the Chicano Movement and organizations such as MEChA, UMAS, the Partido de la Raza Unida, MAPA and the U.F.W.; he briefly discusses his time in the military; in 1972, Mr. Gutiérrez married; Mr. Gutiérrez worked as a teacher’s aid at Coachella Valley High School (1976-77) and obtained his elementary teaching credentials at San Bernardino State University; he taught elementary school and served five years as the vice president of the school board; he worked with union workers in the Coachella Valley, Yuma, and San Diego (1983-1996);he discusses how, from 1988-1998, they had informed ex braceros and/or their widows that they could not adjust their immigration status by using MICA or under the Rodino Bill; he determined that the braceros had ten percent of their earnings deducted and that it should have been applied to a savings fund; Mr. Gutiérrez moved to Puruándiro, Michoacán and established a service center; Mr. Gutiérrez discusses the Bracero PROA inception, expansion, and organization; he further discusses the reasons why some of the members were expelled from the organization; in 1998, the first general assembly for migrant workers was held in Michoacán; in addition, Mr. Gutiérrez discusses the regional organizations that serve different segments of the community; he gives a detailed account of government harassment that he endured because of his organizing efforts; he concludes the interview with a brief description of his plans to continue to organize H-2A and H-2B workers.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
Interview with Ventura Gutierrez by Mireya Loza, 2007, "Interview no. 1584," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.