¡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 13)

Title: FBI Surveillance of César Chávez: File #100-444762, Section 5 (Part 13)
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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 transmissions from FBI offices in Pittsburgh and Chicago describe demonstrations in those cities by the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) against the Dow Chemical Company. An accompanying pamphlet titled "Off Dow" explains the UFWOC's grievances against the company, which include Dow's furnishing of chemicals used in warfare to the U.S. Department of Defense; production of pesticides harmful to farm workers; and failure to provide good wages and living conditions to farm workers employed on lettuce fields owned by the company.  

On December 1, 1970, the FBI's office in Pittsburgh sent a teletype to Washington regarding the UFWOC's planned demonstration against Dow, which was to be held on December 2 near the company's downtown sales office. A subsequent memo explains that the demonstration, which was orderly and nonviolent, featured speeches critical of Dow's manufacture of agents used in chemical warfare and its lawsuits against the UFWOC.

Another memo dated December 8, 1970, described the UFWOC's demonstration against Dow in Chicago. A separate communiqué made mention of a three-day fast in protest of the National Tea Company; sources had indicated that the fast was to be held in November, but such an event did not come to the attention of the Chicago police department.

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