Today students in selected schools will either have the day off or will hear of the achievements of Cesar Chavez and his movement in California’s Central Valley in the late 60’s. They will hear a narrative about the struggle against grape farmers in Delano, CA. They will hear about the insurmountable obstacles Cesar Chavez and his team of leaders had to overcome, oppression by the farm owners and their government agents, Legislators and police.
Outside the schoolroom we hear and also celebrate the accomplishments in political proclamations as we cut ribbons at new schools, streets, a USS ship and USPS stamp-naming ceremonies. As with many other historical narratives, the unsavory parts of the story is sniped a little here and there as the cool parts are amplified for dramatic effect.
For Latinos who feel that they are always swimming against the tide, the battle cry of “Si, Se Puede” (Yes, It Can be Done) holds a special sense of pride. Kind of the same way “Don’t Tread on Me” did during the War of Independence.
Now, Cesar Chavez is featured in a Hollywood feature film. Many who were there have pointed out inaccuracies in the story line; have gone as far as calling the film a political ad to support the candidacy of those supported by the guardians of the brand. The Chavez foundation along with the United Farm Workers Union have ensured that the Chavez legacy is one to be recognized by the Latino electorate as fighting for inequality and against oppression.
Rosario Dawson, an actor in the movie, is also Chairwoman of “Voto Latino” a non-profit organization that pushes a liberal agenda. The character she portrays in the movie is that of Dolores Huerta, who has stumped for liberal Democrats throughout the country for decades. No surprise to anyone who follows politics in California, the UFW has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting candidates who have supported the financial interests of the Union once elected. Hardly the intent Cesar had when forming the UFW.
In contrast to the legacy of the struggle of the farm worker in the 60’s, the UFW today is fighting to maintain and refurbish its membership by pressuring workers rather than farmers.
Farmers who are resisting being unionized in Fresno are now fighting the UFW and the State of California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and legislators are turning a blind eye to the injustice. As those farmers seek relief from intimidation tactics, it is unfortunate that they cannot use the battle cry, “Si Se Puede”… the UFW has now trademarked it.
For a real story on the UFW and farmers today, please consider this short video report by Reason TV.