Fallece Helen, la Viuda del Sindicalista César Chávez

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La viuda del sindicalista hispano César Chávez, que en los años setenta luchó por los derechos de los trabajadores latinos en EE.UU., Helen, falleció el martes a los 88 años de edad en un hospital de Bakersfield (California), informó la Unión de Trabajadores Campesinos (UFW por sus siglas en inglés), que su marido cofundó.

Helen Chávez, quien ayudó y colaboró con su marido en sus acciones sindicales, falleció por causas naturales en el hospital acompañada de muchos de sus siete hijos, 31 nietos y 16 biznietos.

El alcalde de Los Ángeles Eric Garcetti dijo en un comunicado que Helen Chávez era una fuerza feroz y constante de la justicia.

“Ella nos dio todo un ejemplo a seguir: puso a su familia primero, realizó trabajo indispensable tras bastidores de la Unión de Trabajadores Campesinos, y nunca retrocedió ante una causa importante”, dijo el alcalde.

Nacida el 21 de enero de 1928 con el nombre de Helen Fabela en Brawley (California), vivió los primeros años de su vida con su familia en un establo para caballos reconvertido en hogar, y conoció a César a mediados de la década de los 40.

Cuando César regresó del servicio militar, ambos se casaron en 1948 y tuvieron ocho hijos, aunque uno de ellos falleció.
César Chávez murió en 1993 a los 66 años de edad.

Garcetti dijo que el trabajo de Helen para la UFW ayudó a transformar cómo la gente de todo el mundo veía los derechos de los trabajadores y puso al descubierto los males de la discriminación racial.

“Mis más sentido pésame está con su familia, todo el mundo que la quería, y todos los que fueron inspirados por su apoyo sutil pero poderoso”, agregó.

Helen Chavez, Wife of UFW Leader, Dies at Age 88

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Helen Fabela Chavez, widow of farm labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez passed away June 6 of natural causes. She was 88.

While often described as “quiet and humble,” Helen was fiercely supportive of her husband’s efforts to build the United Farm Workers of America, at times being the family’s only source of income and standing beside her husband on the picket line
Born on January 21, 1928, in Brawley, California, Helen Chavez grew up in a converted barn near the Central Valley town of McFarland, California, and in nearby Delano, where she dropped out of high school to support her family by working in the fields, according to the United Farm Workers website. She met her husband, Cesar Chavez, in Delano while they were both laboring as farm workers in the mid-1940s. Helen and Cesar corresponded while he served in the Navy and married upon his discharge in 1948.

Helen, with a growing family that eventually numbered eight children, moved frequently with her husband when in the 1950s he organized the most effective Latino civil rights group of that period. Cesar Chavez’s decision, along with his wife, to resign from that job in 1962 and move to Delano to begin building what would become the United Farm Workers, meant the family gave up its middle-class life in East Los Angeles for a life of self-imposed poverty.

Helen went back to work in the fields to help the family survive while her husband travelled the Central Valley recruiting farm workers. She also cared for their eight children: Fernando, Sylvia, Linda, Eloise, Liz, Paul, Anna, and Anthony.

In 1965, during the Delano Grape Strike, one of the most volatile times in the Union’s history, Helen supported the movement by taking over management of the Farm Workers Credit Union, and worked full time at the union office while maintaining a home life, according the UFW.

“Because of Helen’s focus as a mother caring for and educating their children, and a wife, most of the credit for the efforts of migrant farm workers to overcome the opposition and antagonism of agricultural employers, the growers, went to her husband,” according to Maurice Jourdane, a longtime Chavez family friend and the attorney who successfully pushed for an end to the use of the short-handled hoe in California. “Helen did far more than maintain the home,” said Jourdane. “To help support the family, Helen returned to the field picking grapes for less than $2 a day and became the full-time administrator of the union’s credit union” … quickly learning the bookkeeping skills needed to maintain the UFW’s financial records for more than 20 years, according to Jourdane.

Helen and Cesar Chavez became the foundation of La Causa (The Cause), Jourdane writes in his blog on the Huffington Post.
With her more famous husband, Helen fought for recognition of the Union; she was arrested in 1966 for shouting Huelga (“Strike”) at a San Joaquin Valley ranch.

On his Facebook page, Teatro Campesino founder Luis Valdez, had this to say about Helen Chavez: “I had the privilege of knowing her and calling her my dear friend for over 50 years … Regardless of how tough the fight became, she was always a believer in the struggle for social justice, and it was this faith and strength that undoubtedly fueled the creation of United Farm Workers of America.

The daughter of a revolutionary general in the Mexican Revolution of 1910, she became the wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother of an entire movement.”

‘Adelante’ con el Legado de Chávez

April 2, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Los representantes de docenas de organizaciones del Este de Los Ángeles se reunieron el viernes para compartir ideas de cómo sus grupos están siguiendo el ejemplo y el legado del líder sindical y de derechos civiles Cesar E. Chávez, cuyo cumpleaños se celebra el 31 de marzo y es considerado un día festivo y de servicio a la comunidad.

La organización sin fines de lucro, InnerCity Struggle, realizó por segundo año consecutivo el ‘Desayuno Adelante’ atrayendo a más de 100 personas—representando grupos sindicales, cívicos, de la salud, educación, arte y justicia ambiental y social—a su evento de reconocimiento y conmemoración.

Read this article in English: ‘Adelante’ With Chavez Legacy

Chávez, quien co-fundó el Sindicato de Trabajadores Campesinos (UFW) con Dolores Huerta, es conocido por sus tácticas no violentas en la lucha por un trato justo y mejores salarios para los trabajadores agrícolas. Desde su muerte, se ha convertido en un icono del movimiento obrero y organizador de base.

El enfoque del evento fue compartir cómo las organizaciones pueden avanzar colectivamente el legado de Chávez en los tiempos modernos.

El asambleísta Jimmy Gómez (Distrito 51) dijo que la gente a menudo se centra en el trabajo que Chávez hizo mientras estaba vivo, pero se olvidan de hablar sobre el importante legado que dejó. “Él era un mentor, un organizador y un educador” y ustedes son parte del legado de Chávez, agregó Gómez, instando a los asistentes a guiar a las futuras generaciones en cómo continuar su trabajo de organización.

“[Chávez] no comenzó como un líder legendario, alguien le enseñó”, explicó Gómez.

photo 2

Lideres comunitarios se reunieron para compartir la lucha y el legado de Cesar E. Chavez. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El programa incluyó una oportunidad para que participantes compartieran el trabajo que hacen en su comunidad, y la conversación reveló algunas de las estrategias comunes que las organizaciones utilizan para lograr sus objetivos.

Al igual que Chávez, miembros del Sindicato Internacional de Empleados de Servicio (SEIU) Local 99, dijeron que están participando en un boicot no violento contra la cadena de supermercados El Súper para presionar a la empresa debido a sus “prácticas laborales injustas”. El UFW, bajo el liderazgo de Chávez , llevó a cabo un boicot nacional e internacional de uvas y lechuga para presionar a los cultivadores a firmar un acuerdo laboral con el sindicato en nombre de los trabajadores agrícolas.

“Estamos aquí para organizar y queremos que las cosas sean justas para todos en la fuerza laboral”, dijo la delegado de SEIU 99 Virginia Valverde, invitando a las otras organizaciones a unirse al boicot contra El Súper.

Por su parte, Juan Castillo-Alvarado, director programas de educación pública de la Alianza Latina por la Igualdad (LEA) dijo que su organización pelea diariamente por los derechos de la comunidad latina Lesbiana Gay Bisexual y Transgénero (LGBT).

Agregó que LEA proporciona un espacio seguro para los jóvenes que se encuentran en el proceso de “salir del closet”. Tratamos de educar a la comunidad acerca de los problemas que enfrentan las personas LGBT y su lucha por ser aceptados, problemas que si no son tratados pueden llevar a enfermedades mentales y/o intimidación, dijo Castillo-Alvarado.

“Todo el mundo tiene la dignidad de ser quienes son, sin el temor de ser criticado”.

El ex congresista Esteban E. Torres, reconocido a nivel nacional por su servicio público y el liderazgo en temas laborales, fue el orador invitado del desayuno y habló de su relación personal con Chávez.

“Echo de menos a mi amigo, mi hermano”, comentó Torres, quien compartió anécdotas de su relación personal con Chávez y sus años de trabajo organizando.

Torres dijo que es importante que los latinos continúen honrando el legado de Chávez, de la misma manera que otras comunidades rinden homenaje a sus líderes.

InnerCity Struggle (ICS), organización anfitriona del evento, dice que su misión es construir “un movimiento poderoso e influyente para la juventud y las familias del Este de Los Ángeles para promover comunidades saludables, seguras y no violentas”.

El portavoz de ICS Jonathan Pérez le dijo a EGP que la organización utiliza muchos de los métodos de organización de Chávez y está tratando de enseñar a las generaciones más jóvenes sobre su obra y su legado.

“Queremos promover la organización no violenta” y luchar contra las injusticias en nuestras comunidades, dijo Pérez.

Torres le dijo a EGP que le emocionó escuchar cómo gente que ni siquiera estaba cerca cuando Chávez estaba vivo y organizando son conscientes de su legado y siguen su ejemplo.

Esperemos que esto les lleve a hacer grandes cambios, dijo.

“[Los jóvenes] deben saber que tienen la esencia de hablar por sus derechos y hablar por los que no pueden hablar por sí mismos”.

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

‘Adelante’ With Chavez Legacy

April 2, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Eastside organization leaders gathered last Friday to discuss how their groups are following the example and legacy of labor and civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez, whose birthday is celebrated March 31 as a state holiday and a day of service.

Nonprofit InnerCity Struggles’ second annual “Adelante Breakfast” drew over 100 people — representing labor, civic, health, education, art, and environmental and social justice organizations — to their East Los Angeles office. Chavez, who co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Dolores Huerta, is known for his non-violent tactics when fighting for fair treatment and better pay for farm workers. Since his death, he has become an icon of the labor movement and grass roots organizing.

The focus of the breakfast was on how organizations can collectively move Chavez’ legacy forward, “adelante,” in modern times.

Civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez was honored at the second annual “Adelante Breakfast” in East L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez was honored at the second annual “Adelante Breakfast” in East L.A. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (District 51) said people too often focus on the work Chavez did while he was alive, but forget an important part of the legacy he left behind. “He was a mentor, an organizer and an educator” and you are part of Chavez’ legacy, said Gomez, telling the attendees they must teach future generations how to continue their work.

“[Chavez] didn’t start as a legendary leader, somebody taught him,” Gomez explained.

Lea este artículo en Español: ‘Adelante’ con el Legado de Chávez

The program included an opportunity for participants to share their work in the community and the discussion revealed some of the common strategies organizations use to achieve their goals.

Like Chavez, members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, said they are using a non-violent boycott of the El Super grocery chain to put pressure on the company for its “unfair labor practices.” The UFW, under Chavez’s leadership, conducted a national and international boycott of grapes and lettuce to pressure growers to sign a labor agreement with the union on behalf of farm workers.

“We are here to organize and we want things to be fair for everyone in the workforce,” said SEIU 99 delegate Virginia Valverde, inviting the other organizations to join their boycott of El Super.

Juan Castillo-Alvarado, director of Latino Equality Alliance’ (LEA) public education program, said the organization fights every day for the rights of the Latino Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. He said LEA provides a safe space for young people still in the process of “coming out of the closet.” We try to educate the community about the struggle LGBT people face being accepted, problems that if not addressed can lead to mental illness and/or bullying, Castillo-Alvarado said. He said everyone has the right “to be who they are without the fear of being criticized.”

Former Congressman Esteban E. Torres, nationally recognized for his public service and leadership on labor issues, was the breakfast’s featured speaker and spoke of his personal relationship with Chavez.

“I miss my friend, my brother,” remarked Torres, who shared anecdotes about his personal relationship with Chavez and their labor organizing years.

Torres said it’s important for Latinos to continue to honor Chavez’ legacy, in the same way other communities pay tribute to their leaders.

The breakfast’s host, InnerCity Struggle (ICS), says its mission is to build “a powerful and influential movement of youth and families in the Eastside of Los Angeles to promote healthy, safe and nonviolent communities.”

ICS spokesperson Jonathan Perez told EGP the organization uses many of Chavez’ organizing methods and is trying to teach younger generations about his work and legacy.

“We want to promote non-violent organizing” and fight against injustices in our communities, as Chavez did, Perez said.

Torres told EGP he was moved to hear how people, many who were not even born when Chavez was alive and organizing, are aware of his legacy and following his example.

Hopefully this will lead them to make great changes, he said.

“[Young people] should learn that they have the essence to speak for their rights and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

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Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

 

No, It Is Not Wrong to Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day!

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

In a recent blog, I made the point that it is becoming routine and even careless venerating the dead instead of remembering how they changed our lives. This year’s Martin Luther King Holiday was a relief from what was becoming an excuse not to go to school. The reason for this is that it was tied to the heroic changing of the system by events such as Selma. It made me think what would our lives be without sacrifices of the people who were clubbed, mauled and attacked by ferocious dogs?

Similarly, Cesar Chavez could have lived a comfortable life. He had a promising career as an organizer for the Community Service Organization (CSO). Cesar sacrificed it all for a principle: promoting a life with dignity for farmworkers and their families.

The same applies to Christmas, what does it really mean? It is a day that we gorge ourselves with hormone-laden turkey, making graveyards out of our stomachs. As a child I remember just wanting to get through the mass so I could rush home to unwrap my gifts that had very little meaning other than they were new.

Americans incessantly criticize Islam for being a fanatical religion, which is pure hypocrisy. The American Bigot is the most fanatically religious person in the world. He or she wallows in religion and acts pious. These same people have historically gone to church on Sunday and segregated their neighbors on Monday.

I wonder how many of them take seriously “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” If it had meaning they wouldn’t be fighting health care and would be calling for a single payer system like most advance countries enjoy. They would want quality and equal education for all children. As in the Middle Ages they would recognize that greed is a mortal sin and that money policies are usurious.

To preface this is the biblical saying “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,” I do not think many Christians think about this when celebrating their mass. I do not think that Netanyahu thinks of all people about being his brothers and sisters that he is waging wars of extermination against.

How much different is the hypocrite from the sinner? I doubt whether he or she thinks about it while hanging his/her head in prayer contemplating the bombing of a Planned Parenthood Center.

The only thing that I was asking for my last blog is for people to THINK! Look at David Bacon’s photos of farmworkers and their families and pictures of deportees and THINK of what is to be done. If you don’t THINK what value is there in going to church, going on a march venerating the past?

Most Americans are no different than Bull Connors or Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They hate whereas King and Chavez loved. They weren’t perfect, but they we doing something unlike most Americans who deny evolution or climate change.

We are not good people because we feed the poor on one day a year and then say nothing about taking away their food stamps.

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