The Colorado Bracero Project
The Colorado Bracero Project is a collaboration with the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas El Paso and the Bracero History Project at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The Bracero Program was an international contract labor program created in 1942 between the United States and Mexican governments in response to U.S. World War II labor shortages. The program allowed between 4.5 and 5 million Mexican farm laborers into the United States as contract labor over a 22-year period. The Bracero Program was officially terminated in 1964.
Under the leadership of Dr. Priscilla Falcón, a faculty member in Mexican American Studies in UNC’s Hispanic Studies Program, and Dr. Elizabeth Franklin, a faculty member in UNC's Hispanic Studies Program, the Colorado Bracero Project will conduct interviews with former braceros still living in the area, investigate and document the migrant camps in northern Colorado, support and supervise student research on this topic, and create archives of interviews and other documents.
Meet the Braceros
Meet and Learn more about the braceros still living in the area.
I began my journey at Empalme, Sonora. We all had to take a health exam, shots and we were given one sandwich for the twenty-four hour trip to the border.
The contracting center in California was huge, there were thousands of workers waiting to cross the border. We were put into corrals where ranchers and labor contractors came to select workers.
I worked from seven in the morning until eight, nine or ten at night lets just say sun up to sundown. It was very difficult work.
When we arrived at the border in California, we were told to take off our clothes and that is how they sprayed us. Most of us got sick from that spray because we put on the same clothes.
I was born in 1944 and I am from Patitlan, Jalisco.
I worked in various cities in California and I was paid every two weeks.
I worked in the tomato fields, thinning lettuce and beets and I also picked cotton.
The work was very difficult and wages were low. The employers would take money from our checks for many things…
When I was seventeen or eighteen I needed to help my family….we had economic necessities and so I became a Bracero.
Cargo trains brought us to the border at Juarez, Mexico…on the bridge to cross over to the United States, they lined us up and made us pass through a little house…
Jaime Martinez Lopez
Jaime Martinez Lopez was part of the Bracero Program from 1961 to 1965. In the interview he describes his experience and gives some personal information. He shares the impact that the Bracero Program had in his life with what was going on during his time in the program and what his life is like now.
The interview was done in Spanish and translated into English. It was a pleasure to interview him, and I was able to learn a lot about him and the Bracero program.