Interview no. 1364

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Ortiz Marquez, Jorge
Oral History; Social and Behavioral Sciences
article description
Mr. Ortiz talks about his family and what his life was like growing up; when he was eighteen, he decided to enlist in the bracero program; he describes the contracting process he went through in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, México, including the long waiting times and medical exams; from there he was transported in a cargo train to El Paso, Texas; he explains that roughly one thousand five hundred men were transferred daily; once in El Paso, he was taken to a center called Rio Vista, where he underwent further assessments and delousing procedures; afterward, he was fed, but the food had some kind of purgative, because they were all sick and had to stop several times on their way to the worksites; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of New Mexico and Texas for a total of six years; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, housing, accommodations, living conditions, provisions, duties, routines, treatment, payments, remittances, contract lengths and renewals, correspondence and recreational activities, including trips into town; in addition, he also talks about his brother, Isabelo Ortiz, who was also a bracero; they worked together in Texas for a widowed woman; Isabelo was injured while working, but he was taken to the doctor and quickly recovered; Jorge wrote letters for Isabelo, because he did not know how to write; after the program ended, Jorge worked in the United States without documents, but he later obtained legal status with the help of his employer.