¡Sí Se Puede! Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight on César Chávez & the UFW
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FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 3)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 3)
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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.

These documents cover events during a melon strike in Pecos, Texas, in the summer of 1975 and an incident related to the United Farm Workers (UFW) and election laws in Arizona in the fall of 1972.

In July 1975, a melon strike that had spread to the Texas Panhandle and the Trans-Pecos region of western Texas led to the arrest of UFW picketers in the city of Pecos. According to a report by the FBI's El Paso office, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) had demanded an investigation into the arrests for violations of the law, as it involved the detention of children placed into facilities with adults and the Reeves County sheriff refusing to accept bond. Attached to the report are copies of newspapers reporting on the situation.

The second series of documents in this section include memos from late October and early November 1972 with the subject line "Unidentified Members, United Farm Workers Union in Arizona, Election Laws." While specifics are scarce due to redactions, the FBI eventually concludes that it would not pursue an investigation of the matter at hand because there was no indication that election laws had been violated.

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