I am compelled to write this post because I can no longer stay silent on one of the greatest injustices being done towards CÃ©sar Estrada ChÃ¡vez – the greatest leader for la causa of his generation, next to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. I cannot let this travesty continue.
CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez made the ultimate sacrifice to make America a better place. ChÃ¡vez stood for equality, justice, and dignity for everybody. His motto “s? se puede” embodies the uncommon and invaluable legacy he left for the world’s benefit. He, like Martin Luther King Jr, wanted America to become a place where people of all races would be able to get along and live together.
Currently, the aims of the Natavists is to debunk ChÃ¡vez’s character, by denying his status as a crusader for nonviolent social change, spreading tales of being the first to form a Minuteman type project and alleging to beat up undocumented immigrants. Last year in The American Conservative, a magazine started by Pat Buchanan, Steve Sailer wrote an article comparing CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez and racist anti-immigration group the Minutemen.
Like today’s Minutemen, UFW staffers under the command of Chavez’s brother Manuel patrolled the Arizona-Mexico border to keep out illegal aliens. Unlike the well-behaved Minutemen, however, Chavez’s boys sometimes beat up intruders.
To prove this is accurate information, Sailor quotes a 1997 article written by Ruben Navarrette Jr. in the Arizona Republic (August 31, 1997):
“Cesar Chavez, a labor leader intent on protecting union membership, was as effective a surrogate for the INS as ever existed. Indeed, Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union he headed routinely reported, to the INS, for deportation, suspected illegal immigrants who served as strikebreakers or refused to unionize.”
This is nothing more but a slap in the face which goes to show how comfortable Nativists are in having us believe they are really honoring ChÃ¡vez, while taking actions that go against every principle he stood for. They truely stand against any political or economic approach which seeks to provide true opportunity and genuine dignity to all people. I am fully aware that this post runs the risk of being viewed as an apologists for the ChÃ¡vez. But I cannot help but question Navarrette’s facts contained in the his column that was pointed out by HispanicPundit. In my view, Navarrette lacks the facts and is playing the blame game on other people instead of backing it up with true facts. The problems is, many need to believe in this fiction in order to keep feeling good about themselves, and will most likely resent anyone who dares to show them the truth. They will all deny the evidence even as it is being presented to them. Sadly, our society has become a society of ostriches.
One of the common Nativist tricks is to pit one group of people against another. It is a fact, one of ChÃ¡vez’s obstacles where the tactics that the California farmers used to depress wages by pitting one group of people against another. In fact, this tactics are stilling being used today. What is NOT a fact, ChÃ¡vez was NEVER against the undocumented. Peter Matthiessen describes how the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 was used to undermine ChÃ¡vez’s efforts and how ChÃ¡vez handled the situation in a NON-VIOLENT manner. Matthiessen writes:
Under the law, no green-carder is supposed to work in a field where a labor dispute has been certified, but enforcement has been desultory, to say the least, and although almost half of the members of Chavez’s union are not United States citizens, many Mexicans have become strikebreakers. As long as farm workers are excluded from the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, they have no legal means of forcing employers to negotiate. When their strike was subverted by imported scabs and anti-picketing injunctions, they resorted to what the growers call an “illegal and immoral” boycott.
Chavez said that many of the green-carders, and especially those who intend to return to Mexico, felt they could do better than the union wage scale by working furiously for non-union growers on a piecework basis; others refused to join the union out of ignorance, they had never heard of a union, or out of fear of reprisal. “Out at Schenley, we have a contract there now, there was a guy named Danny,” Chavez said. “Danny was so anti-union that he went to the management and said, ‘Give me a gun. I’ll go out and kill some of those strikers.’ He just hated us, and he didn’t know why. He was working inside when we came with the picket line, and I guess he felt guilty about not joining us, so he went too far. And also, he told me later, “I didn?t know what a union was. I never heard of a union?I had no idea what it was or how it worked. I came from a small village down in Mexico.’ You see? It’s the old story. He was making more money than he had ever seen in Mexico, and the union was a threat. Anyway, we won there, and all the guys who went out on strike, they got their jobs back. And, man, they wanted to clean house, and they wanted to get Danny, and I said no. ‘Well, he doesn’t want to join the union,’ they said. ‘And if he doesn’t join the union, he can’t work here.’ And so I challenged them. I said, ‘One man threatens you’ Do you know what the real challenge is? Not to get him out but to get him in. If you are good organizers, you will get him, but you’re not…you’re lazy!’ So they went after him, and the pressure began to build against him. He was mad as hell. He held out for three months, and he was encouraged by the Anglos’the white guys. They had the best jobs … mechanics and all … and they didn’t want to join the union, either. But finally Danny saw the light, and they did, too. It took about six months before we actually got down to negotiating a contract after we won the election, and by the time we got around to setting up a negotiating committee Danny had not only been converted but been elected to the committee.
True, there were some members of the UFW who had different views than CÃ©sar, but to pin their views on ChÃ¡vez is illogical. It is as illogical to claim the actions of a white supremacy group as being representative of the entire white society or the criminal actions of a few immigrants being attributed to every immigrant. CÃ©sar has time and time again curtailed the actions of those who advocated for violence. His demand for non-violence has never wavered, he has always believed that that whatever gains that were made through violence, ultimately be destroyed. The truth is, the Nativist have turned his love for his union which he felt he was responsible for their acts into some wet dream.
To advocate violence would totally go against his commitment to non-violence and to show his commitment, it was his reason for fasting. Matthiessen writes:
Everywhere he had gone, the militant groups that supported him or sought his support had been talking about the violence that was being planned for the summer of 1968, and in Delano his own people were rivaling the growers with loose talk about quick solutions….Perhaps a little burning in Delano, or an explosion or two, might force the growers to negotiate. Chavez could not deny this. “If we had used violence, we would have won contracts long ago,” he once told me, “but they wouldnâ€™t be lasting, because we wouldn?t have won respect.” Depressed, he decided on the fast as a kind of penance for the belligerence that had developed in his own union.
I have spent countless hours researching on this issue because one my biggest fear is some of the sources used adds to the potential for gullible people to be taken in by half-truths and revisionist versions of history. Now that this half-truths exist on the Internet there is a large potential to spread misinformation to a wide audience year after year.
I will not deny that much of what Navarrette is credit for is disturbing. All across the city and perhaps the country, people are now questioning their support of the UFW, not only in recent years but also in the past. In hushed voices they express their sadness and anger at having been “misled.”
Tearing down of our leaders is nothing new in a country that is obsessed with examining human failings and putting them on display for the world to see. It is a travesty, when we allow them to completely overshadow the sacrifice and hard work that may have done. This week marks the beginning of a national celebration to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet there are some today, who are also determine to drag the legacy of the man through the mud in a way that will undermine the greater good achieved by this extraordinary man.
I will repeat, CÃ©sar has represented more [tag]undocumented workers[/tag] than anyone in the country and his 1969 march was NOT a march against the undocumented it was about strike breakers. The ONLY thing he was against was strike breakers, documented or undocumented.
Today, we are the guardians of his legacy, it is up to us to honor CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez to protect and enhance the future of today and tomorrow’s immigrants. Discredit him, it is us who will harm the future of the Latino community and will provide the opportunities for others to keep our people down or gain power at ChÃ¡vez’s expense. CÃ©sar told Matthiessen that the reactionaries were always better organizers. “The right has a lot of discipline that the left lacks. The left always dilutes itself. Instead of merging to go after the common enemy, the left splinters, and the splinters go after one another. Meanwhile, the right keeps after its objective, pounding away, pounding away.” It is true today as it was true back then.
No one should deny the impact the [tag]CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez[/tag], Dolores Huerta, and the [tag]UFW[/tag] have had on creating a movement that has led people to become dedicated to improving the lots of people less fortunate; [tag]Latinos[/tag], African Americans, Asians, whites, and others. And because of this, I will fight tooth and nail to protect the legacy of CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez against any nativist pundit who continues to spin CÃ©sar for their racist agenda.