Tag Archives: farmworkers

Pacifism Hindered Calif. Mass Farmworkers’ Strikes

My experiences of many decades of organizing among farmworkers have shown me that pacifism causes despair for  workers engaged in struggles, and even for pacifists themselves when reality hits them in the face.

In general, pacifists are religious believers, they hate violence particularly when it comes to labor conflicts.

According to their religious dogmas, humans shouldn’t be the ones   to decide about their lives. This is up to a divine being. In this way, they look good in front of their god and with the bosses, but not in front of their fellow workers in struggle. They believe that through sacrifices and suffering, even with hunger strikes, the bosses will get a conscience and will stop exploiting workers. Cesar Chávez, who was the leader of the United Farmworkers’ Union (UFWU), became famous with his hunger strikes and urged others to do the same during the strikes in the California fields from 1965-70. These mass struggles were almost lost because of Chávez’s pacifist philosophy.  His pacifism didn’t only put a break in the the advance of the struggle, but also castrated it, taking away all its strength that could lead to victory in a shorter time. Thanks to the militancy of many strikers who didn’t think like Chávez, the strike wasn’t lost.

Most pacifists are not enemies of workers, but because of their fear of god and the bosses they think it is better to be a pacifist in the the struggle. But, when honest pacifists participate in labor conflicts and reality hits them in the face, they begin to change their attitude and end up joining the non-pacifists.

It happened in 1973 when the Calif. growers refused to renew the UFWU labor contracts and another strike erupted. And this one was rather violent. Then those who opted for pacifism (even preachers and priests) joined the rest of the workers, forgetting about non-violent strategies and took part in the struggle as if they had never been pacifist.

I think it is important to wage ideological struggle with workers involved in class struggle. We must bring to them the workers’ philosophy to distinguish between who are our friends and our enemies. We mustn’t fall in the anti-working class trap put up by politicians, bosses and even the same leaders which trust in the “justice” of the corrupt capitalist system.

A Veteran of the Fight-backs in Calif.

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Veteran PL Farmworker’s Inspiring Stories of Battles in the Fields

LOS ANGELES, CA, August 9 –– After another day of CHALLENGE sales, house visits, and study groups, L.A. Summer Project volunteers took a trip through history when one of the main PL organizers of the migrant worker struggles, Epifanio Camacho, hosted a “carne asada” (BBQ). With the smell of collectively-prepared barbeque in the background and under a large shade tree, PLP volunteers squeezed into Camacho’s yard, many unsure of what to expect.

Camacho began speaking of the political work in Delano of organizing workers, comparing it to birds spreading seeds. In Delano, often workers from Mexico would learn communist politics and then return home where the lessons and politics they learned could one day bear fruit. This is one way that communism spreads around the world. Camacho fielded questions from PL youth and former Delano Project participants alike, opening up discussions that are still echoing through the Summer Project

Camacho spoke about his experiences working with Cesar Chavez, the misleader of the United Farm Workers Union. When asked if he thought Chavez, who would regularly turn workers over to immigration officers and make deals with bosses behind the workers backs, should be given a holiday, he instantly said, “Hell no!” He told stories of how Chavez went on a hunger strike to stop violence against scabs (the bosses canonized him in the media).  Later Camacho told how he and the workers of his town organized a demonstration against the fascist police who were terrorizing and killing workers. The militant demonstration was held in the police station were the workers threatened to burn the station down if they did not stop the fascist attacks. This action chased out the cops –– almost 20 years ago –– and they never came back. His stories were inspirational to everyone.

Just like the work in Delano sent seeds of communist thought through Mexico, so will the L.A. and Seattle Summer Project participants spread the lessons we’re learning and the excitement we’re building through CHALLENGE sales, study groups, and collective living across the country when we return to our home cities.J
(Camacho’s memoirs are on PLP.org)

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Students, Farmworkers, Vets Get PLP Exposé of Hillary’s War Plans

Ten thousand people lined up around our college campuses to try to hear Hillary Clinton speak at a campaign rally. While they stood in a long single file line we were there with CHALLENGE and a leaflet exposing Clinton’s support for war and exposing the DREAM Act as a preparation for war. The flier quoted her website: “The DREAM Act would also strengthen our nation’s military readiness, allowing these well-qualified young men and women to serve their country with honor.” A teacher-comrade explained as she handed out the leaflet: “I know the rulers’ plans for my students — war.” Nearly everyone took our literature from her including both the flier and CHALLENGE. We also explained that it wasn’t just about Clinton, but that all the candidates, Clinton, Obama, and McCain, support wider war in the Middle East and war with China in the future. We tried to show that no matter the candidate, it is the system of capitalism that causes and requires war.

At the rally Clinton pushed race and racism as she played up the support she received from the United Farm Workers (UFW) and attacked Barack Obama. She tried to use the UFW to lie that she supports working-class struggles, invoking the name of another union sell-out: Cesar Chavez (he attacked militancy and undocumented workers as the head of the UFW). We made sure to talk with the farmworkers and give them CHALLENGE/DESAFIO as they left. We also had a good conversation with some Iraq war veterans who were there to protest against Clinton and the continued war in Iraq. One vet agreed that it was imperialism that caused war and that we would have to completely change the economic system. He got a CHALLENGE and we got contact information as well.

One important lesson we learned is that appearances can be deceiving. Many seemingly die-hard Clinton supporters or Democrats were just looking for a change and were interested when we argued that change could not come about through elections. We saw that people with Clinton or Obama buttons liked the idea that only communist revolution could create change. This showed many of us the importance of talking to people about our line of communist revolution no matter their T-shirt or button.

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