The Life of a Bracero

The primary sources given depict the life of a bracero- an individual who journeys to America in search of employment who is, to the program, merely just another cog in the wheel. Juan Loza’s interview shows that braceros headed to the U.S. had high expectations- “About twenty full busses came directly to here. They put about ninety people in them even though the capacity was about forty-five or fifty passengers. We [were so full that we] even had to ride on the bus railing, on top. I think that about twenty of us came on top and it was a long—well, a lot of time” (Loza, 2005). This quote shows that braceros expected a lot from the program due to the amount on the bus and the lengths they were willing to go by riding on the railing of the bus. Well these expectations were not necessarily shot down,- braceros were able to earn somewhat decent wages- the program saw the braceros more as a homogeneous workforce than individuals. This is firstly seen by the examination of the braceros: “Well, because the doctors examined an average of three thousand people a day. Imagine! If a doctor doesn’t have the patience to examine a patient when he has already examined four, five, six, or ten during the day, [imagine] how it is when he has examined thousands! Of course this doctor is already sick of it. He’s already overloaded with the work and [so] he’s going to do it reluctantly, without paying much attention. So when you pass the physical examination—in the hands of the doctor—they do the same process to you that they did in Monterrey—they do it again. They take off all of your clothes, they bathe you with disinfectants—with powders and a series of things that make me sad to even mention” (Loza, 2005). This shows how braceros were the backbone of the U.S.- thousands were needed for the agricultural sector. However, just because they were elementary didn’t mean that they were treated well. The view of a bracero as a component rather than an individual reflects back to Ngai’s point on the isolation and segregation of braceros. In Loza’s interview, this isolation also comes into play within the braceros themselves: “The more workers who worked together, the more they [the ranchers] felt prohibited from treating them [the braceros] badly or treating them . . . or working them at inappropriate schedules [times of day] or six days a week; because among—let’s say, among ten braceros it’s logical that all ten braceros won’t have the same intentions or the same ambitions or the same availability to dedicate themselves to work. So that’s why the smaller the number of braceros the ranchers had, the easier it was for them to direct them at their whim” (Loza, 2005).

 

 

 

 

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