“César Chávez, Presente!” – so went the chant at the rally/march, Saturday, 7 April 18, San Juan, Texas.
The chant continued: “Dolores Huerta, Presente! United Farm Workers (UFW), Presente!” (“your presence is with us”) and so on. The manifestation of “La Causa,” that of one “cause” has metamorphosed into multiple good causes.
LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Unido, or the Union of United People), the arm of the UFW in the Texas Valley, sponsored the event. Members of supporting groups were in abundance: ACLU, ARISE (A Resource in Serving Equality), Brown Berets (many from San Antonio and even New Mexico) were clearly visible. All have blended into the larger cause of support for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
Many “Dreamers” were present; several spoke at the rally. Many wore their graduation caps; one young man had just received his Masters’ Degree. He did not mind having his photo taken, nor published in the newspaper. However, I don’t have the faith in Trump’s policies nor the Texas government’s attitude (Senate Bill 4, allowing stopping and questioning of Dreamers by local authorities), so, I won’t reveal his name. But what a bright, brave young man, as they all are.
The large crowd of hundreds welcomed them, applauded their testimonies, as they did the supporting comments by former state District Judge, Fernando G. Mancias, and other community leaders. This south Texas march was preceded by national support of political and business leaders: “As an American, I am offended by Trump’s repeal of DACA. DACA is not an immigration issue, but a moral issue.” (Apple CEO, Tim Cook, nationally televised interview with Chris Hayes, 6 April 18).
Other groups were in support: Dr. Ann Millard and Dr. Isidore Flores of the International Valley Health Institute marched and passed out fliers offering free diabetes testing; a number of personnel from UT Health Science Center, San Antonio, were present to offer free CPR training—on the spot. Water was plentiful as were wonderful fifty cent tacos. Dancers, dressed in their bright red tee-shirts, performed what was essentially a line-dancing routine from their UFW-sponsored exercise classes. Tlaloc, the rain god, cooperated and the cold front and rain did not come until the event had ended.
Those assembled joined in the mass parade, through the hometown of the famous Virgin of San Juan. They chanted “sí, se puede!” (yes, you can) and the hopeful “el pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido” (a united people cannot be defeated). The march began with prayers; en route, marchers were presented with the famous poem/prayer by César Chávez himself:
“God, you are present in each person . . . Ayúdanos a amar aún a los que nos odian; Así podremos cambiar el mundo. Amen” (God, help us to love those who hate us; Thus, we can change the world.) No one watching on the street or television today—if they have an ounce of spirituality in them–can deny the faith or power of César, nor the fervor of those who support his multiple causes: justice for workers and support for the education and stability of Dreamers.