¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
Teaser Image

FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 1)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 1)
Button: Click to display an enlarged version of the image.
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.

This section of FBI File 100-444762 includes articles from Canadian newspapers regarding the Delano grape strike. Protesters, volunteers, and supporters of the strike had not only mobilized across the United States but also reached out to Canada to organize an international boycott of California table grapes and secure union recognition for farm workers.

One item in the file is a letter to the editor of the Vancouver Sun. Dated September 4, 1968, the letter is signed by members of Committee of Social Justice of the City of Seattle, who urge Canadians to support the strikers. The writers also express disbelief at the findings of Vancouver mayor Thomas Campbell regarding the grape strike in Delano and call for the newspaper to allow Tony Mendez, an organizer working in Vancouver, to respond to Campbell's allegations.

The following news article from Toronto's Globe and Mail, dated October 18, 1968, discusses the efforts of organizers in Canada. It also explains that the Vancouver mayor, who started as a supporter of the strike, had traveled to Delano and claimed to have changed his mind about the boycott because workers he had spoken to in the fields did not want a union and enjoyed good working conditions. The mayor's claim was disputed by the secretary of British Columbia's Department of Labor, who said that Campbell had spent only a few minutes with workers and the rest of his time with growers and California governor Ronald Reagan.

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

ABC-cLIO Footer