Happy Birthday, Cesar!
By Juan Andrés Bueno
The truly great men and women in history never die.
The dream continues after the dreamer has passed. The ideal remains.
The promise of a gentler future and dignity for all is the never ending struggle of the human race that needs to be uncompromisingly defended. A half century ago a peaceful and effective revolution took place in this country. A great leader at par with Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. moved the dispossessed to demand their rights; and, though there is still much yet to accomplish, a great step was taken when our farm workers– those who feed the rest of us, dignified their toil, essential to society at the most basic level– by forming the United Farm Workers Union. And as a result, planted a seed of pride and self-awareness in our community that in the last two decades has grown to monumental proportions.
The spirit of Cesar Chavez lives on.
The struggle continues.
Now the battle is across the border in the San Quintín Valley in Baja California where a handful of politically well-connected impresarios enrich themselves through the slave labor of men, women and children. While blood money wages run around ten dollars for a twelve hour “can ’til can’t” day of back breaking labor in humiliating conditions, the parasite class profits by the millions in the lucrative market on this side of the border.
But those migrant workers are now rebelling. They have called a strike, demanding that their wages be doubled and that their families be housed in clean decent quarters with running water and a roof over their heads, that their children be schooled. They are also requesting their most elemental right to form a union.
I, for one, can forgo eating strawberries until this issue is properly resolved, just like I refused to eat grapes in the mid-sixties. Viva Cesar Chavez!
Juan Andrés Bueno is a filmmaker and writer, known for his award-winning Amorous Pancho Villa (2013), Como Como Tu me has Deseado (2005), La Montaña del Diablo (1975), Que No Me Bese el Mariachi (1984) and Los caciques (1975). Born in Mexico and raised in Beverly Hills, California, Bueno’s career started in the late 1960’s where he worked (through a Filmways TV apprenticeship) on such iconic shows as The Addams Family, The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. From 1967 to 1990, he has been a member of local 776 of the IASTE Film Editors Union. In Mexico up until ten years ago, Bueno taught screenwriting and filmmaking.