¡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 5 (Part 5)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (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.

In January and February 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) field office in San Antonio monitored press account of actions by the Texas Council of Churches (TCC) related to strikes in Starr County Texas. The TCC had dismissed Rev. Edgar Kreuger, who subsequently alleged that he was fired for refusing to exonerate Texas Rangers accused of brutality and false arrests during strikes in 1967. At the time of Kreuger's dismissal, the TCC also announced that it would cease funding VISTA, an volunteer anti-poverty program that had been involved in Starr County strikes and a boycott by Mexican American students at Edcouch-Elsa High School.

In a memorandum dated February 10, 1969, the San Antonio field office forwarded copies of local newspaper articles to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

Articles dated on January 30 in The Monitor and the Valley Morning Star described the U.S. district court civil suit that had been filed by the TCC on behalf of Kreuger and his wife after they were allegedly "roughed up and falsely arrested" by Rangers during  labor strikes in 1967. Additionally, it reported Kreuger's assertions that he was terminated because he rejected a compromise agreement to end the suit. On February 1, the Corpus Christi Caller noted that the TCC had withdrawn its suit against the Texas Rangers.

According to a January 30 article in the Corpus Christi Caller, the TCC sought to gain control of VISTA's policies and employees after the organization encountered criticism for its participation in labor disputes and the civil rights boycott by high school students in Edcouch-Elsa in 1968. In a January 31 article, The Monitor stated that the TCC had ended its sponsorship of VISTA because of its "constant political activity."

In a February 28 response to the San Antonio field office, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover regarded the newspaper article as "of no material value to the Bureau" and urged them to focus on incidents where federal law was violated or "an indication of subversive domination, control or influence."
 

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