¡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 4)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 4)
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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.

This series of documents cover a variety of activities related to the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) in Texas, Florida, California, and New York that took place between 1966 and 1973.

In December 1966, the FBI's field offices in Houston sent a transmission describing a three-day march from Houston to Rio Grande City by striking farm laborers in Texas. According to the FBI, the caravan would meet in Corpus Christi with another group of marchers originating in Austin. The two groups planned to depart from Corpus Christi together, stopping in Kingsville and Weslaco, and finally arriving in Rio Grande City on the afternoon of December 18. The purpose of the march was to raise money, food, and support for striking workers in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas.

On July 17, 1970, the FBI's Tampa office reported that an approved campus group at the University of South Florida called the "Grape Boycott Committee" had held meetings in support of the UFWOC's nationwide strike against non-union grapes. In an earlier memo dated April 6 of that year, the FBI's Los Angeles office reported on a disturbance following a UFWOC meeting and barbeque in Coachella. On February 2, 1973, the FBI's office in New York reported that the union held a demonstration in support of its nationwide lettuce boycott in New York City.

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