¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 1 (Part 5)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 1 (Part 5)
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The primary source document described below, which can be viewed by clicking the thumbnail at right, is part of a 1,434-page file on César Chávez and the farmworker movement compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 1965 and 1973. The FBI's surveillance of Chávez, which paralleled larger efforts to prove that protest groups of the civil rights era had been infiltrated by subversive influences, was unable to uncover any evidence of communism or corruption in the activities of Chávez and his followers.

The FBI's dossier on Chávez was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which contains provisions that allowed the FBI to withhold portions of the documents from public view. Indeed, many parts—and in some cases, entire pages—have been excised from the files. Nevertheless, the collection provides a compelling window into the efforts of the farmworker movement, as well as the values and methods of the FBI itself.

On October 25, 1965, the FBI's field office in San Francisco sent to Washington a letterhead memorandum containing personal information on labor activist Dolores Huerta, who cofounded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with César Chávez. The information disseminated in the memo was provided by two confidential sources, whose identities were concealed in order to preserve their "future effectiveness."

The memo on Huerta makes mention of People's World, a newspaper affiliated with Communist Party USA which on October 2 had published a photo of Huerta holding up a sign that read "HUELGA" ("strike"). The document goes on to mention the location of Huerta's residence in Stockton, California, as well as her employment with the Community Service Organization (CSO) and her divorce from her first husband, Ventura Huerta. The memo also notes that other sources had no knowledge of Huerta's involvement with Communist Party activities in the Stockton area.

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