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

FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 5)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: Cross References File (Part 5)
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 series of documents cover a variety of protests and other activities related to the United Farm Workers (UFW) in Louisiana, Illinois, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania that took place between 1966 and 1975.

On May 16, 1975, the FBI's field office in New Orleans sent a letterhead memorandum stating that a local group known as the United Farm Workers Solidarity Committee, reportedly a branch of the UFW, planned on picketing a federal building in New Orleans to protest U.S. involvement in Cambodia.

In a memo dated January 21, 1967, the FBI's Chicago office reported that the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) had held a protest in front of Parkway Liquor in Chicago over that store's sales of wine distributed by the Delano-based Perelli Minetti winery.

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.

In a message dated August 18, 1973, the Los Angeles FBI reported that a large UFW caravan was to travel to Los Angeles to demonstrate at Safeway stores and potentially President Richard Nixon's home in San Clemente (referred to in the memo as the "Western White House").

On October 20, 1972, the FBI's Miami office reported on a dispute between the UFW and sugar cane growers in Florida. Central to the dispute was a UFW demand that the sugar cane growers hire domestic labor; the growers maintained that foreign labor was necessary because domestic workers would not take jobs in the sugar fields.

The final document in this series, dated March 23, 1966, deals with the picketing of a Pennsylvania state liquor store in Philadelphia. The demonstration was held in protest of the store's sale of wine distributed by Schenley Corporation, which at the time was embroiled in a labor dispute with the union.

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

ABC-cLIO Footer