elimination of the right-to-work law in Texas. Goals for all unions are basically the same, he said. “The heart of any union is economic benefits for its members.” Participants By the side of the road, the people rubbed their feet and took care of their blisters when they stopped to rest. One woman’s feet had almost split entirely at two places, and so she climbed on one of the pickups and sat as the others walked. In another pickup, children waved red banners with black eagles sewed on them, the UFW symbol. At a stop before Mercedes, one woman sang a ballad she had composed for Cesar Chavez. Those around her listened as she sang about the march, of the coming of Chavez to the Valley, of the fight for the rights of farm workers and at the very end of how she knew that the problems farm workers faced were true, because they were her own problems. “In California,” said Julian Trevino Barrera as he walked alongside the road, “we get paid $5.50 an hour plus fringe benefits for filling up 26-1b. boxes with fruit. Near Salinas,” he said, “for working in the lettuce fields, workers are paid $7 an hour plus benefits.” He has come from California with Cesar Chavez for the march. “In Fresno County, where I live,” he said, “there are some 2,000 people under contract. Close to Salinas, there are about 4,000.” According to Chavez, there are some 150,000 workers in California under contracts. “Here in Texas,” added Barrera, “they don’t even pay the minimum wage. It is a just cause that we fight for.” Further along the line, Alfredo Pacheco, a 53-year-old man with a flushed, red face, explains his participation in the march. “We’ve taken complaints to the Department of Labor,” he said. “But it is as if we had done nothing. The farm worker has always been a forgotten worker.” He is tired. And he explains that it is high-blood pressure that makes him tire quickly and flushes his face. At least some 40 marchers walked from town to town throughout the march, but each day the numbers grew. in the evening, since most of them live in the valley, they crowded into cars or pickups and went home to sleep and rest, then met the following morning to continue. On the final day of the march, while the participants of the main march from Brownsville were in San Juan, fellow marchers in a companion procession beginning at La Joya, a total of some 150 people, met up with the main march in San Juan. Together, on a Sunday afternoon, they walked to the Shrine of La Virgen de San Juan, their destination, at the edge of town. Some 1500 people were there, according to police estimates. “All of this helps us publicize the union and the problems of the farm workers,” said Barrera. He has been working with the UFW since about one year after Chavez started in California. “You have to have these marches people have to understand the need.” A Personal Summary There is another thing that should be added here though it has nothing to do with facts, or figures, or impressions of the people on the side of the road. It is of a more personal nature. It has to do with the inclusion of Cesar Chavez’ outburst of anger at this reporter, long an admirer of his. To many who have admired Cesar Chavez, who have watched him organize the farm workers in California, who have seen the news photographs in which he’s fasting for the human rights of the farmworker, Cesar Chavez no longer seems to be just a man he has become a symbol. And in the “March for Wages” in the Valley, with religious icons at the forefront of the march, the name echoing through the barrios and the responses of the people, the prayers in the churches along the route, and the old women with their blessings, Cesar Chavez seemed more of a symbol than usual. “We want the people to come out,” said one man. “We want them to meet Cesar Chavez so they can later say, `Look, I met Cesar. He is a humble man, sent by God to take off our yoke, to take us out of the flame.’ ” Some reporters came away with mystical impressions: “He seems a very quiet man, a quiet leader,” said one. “Almost a Christ-like figure.” Another reporter argued that I wasn’t ready to meet Chavez: “He is a teacher,” he stressed. “When I met him I was very impressed. You should not bother him anymore until you’re ready.” Whether Cesar Chavez wanted it or not, he has become a hero, but the praise has been taken one step further: he has become a symbol. Symbols, like the black-eagled banner, are much easier to follow. It is their static lack of change and their continued dedication to a goal, conveniently defined by its followers, which pleases them. Human beings as symbols, however, have one drawback. If they are leaders, they need to change and to adapt. To be a symbol locks individuals into perfection, makes them unable to make mistakes along the way without causing disappointment to followers. It removes their humanity when it is their humanity that brought the original praise. The problem is that we put our dreams on those who walk the streets before us, and lead our thoughts with words or deeds, and when we finally run up close enough to see who leads, we find men like ourselves, and we are disappointed. 0 Chuck Caldwell’s 800-424-2463 Call Toll Free II 41 l F. i . 1731 New Hampshire Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009 From $29 up. Best buy in D.C. the legendary RAW DEAL Steaks, Chops, Chicken open lunch and evenings 6th & Sabine, Austin No Reservations “The Miracle of the KILLER BEES” by Robert Heard. Honey Hill Publishing Co., 1022 Bonham Terrace, Austin, Texas 78704, $7.95 plus $1.03 tax and shipping. The $10 Program We invite organizations and individuals to sell new one-year Observer subscriptions. For each subscription the selling organization or individual will receive $10 commission. Like most publications, the Observer spends almost that obtaining a new subscription by mail. We prefer, however, that the money go to hard-working groups or individuals instead of to the post office and paper companies. Organizations and individuals authorized to sell subscriptions under the program will be provided with forms and sample copies. The only requirement is that individuals who wish to try this must have their own subscription paid up at the regular $20 rate. Commissions on subscriptions to be billed will be paid on receipt of the bill payment. Neither renewals nor subscriptions for a period shorter than a year receive commissions. If you want to take part in this program, contact the Observer at 600 W. 7th St., Austin, Tx. 78701, or phone 512-477-0746. No PAC’s or campaigns, please. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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