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Posted on August 17th, 2012, by

The role of Cesar Estrada Chavez in the history of American agricultural business, vegetarianism and unionism cannot be overestimated. Not in vain the public figure was called “one of the heroic figures of our time”¯ by Robert F. Kennedy who shared his views and supported Chavez (Thomas). Kennedy even flew to Delano to be with Chavez as he ended his fast.

In the year 1962 Cesar Chavez became the founder of the United Farm Workers of America and a civil rights leader, later called a legendary labor activist (Vega). He dedicated all his life to fighting against injustice and advocating equity principles. Though the recognition of his successful efforts was delayed, the fruits of his lifelong fight left “an incredible imprint on today’s world”¯ (Thomas). He seconded the idea that the common oppressions on farm workers were to be banned, environment and animal treatment in agribusiness needed to be on a proper level. Being an advocate of animal rights and supporting vegetarians, being one of them, by the way, Cesar Chavez manifested and promoted a model of plant-based diet. He influenced labor movement participants so that now many of them are vegetarians. Chavez considered vegetarianism to be an essential part of non-violent tactics. Committed to principles of non-violence, he was proud of being able to convert people into vegetarians, finding the way of life to be necessary for living nonviolently in the world (Thomas).

According to the biography of Cesar Chavez, he faced injustice from the very childhood. Overcoming poverty, cognizing life laws, reading about St. Francis, Gandhi and earring to Fred Ross, Chavez formed his own worldview and concluded that the love for justice that he supposed to be the most vivid to our nature. Education for the benefit of others was his motto along with his belief: “it can be done”¯, which is presently a slogan of the United Farm Workers of America.

He followed some progressive ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King and called for positive social turnabouts achieved due to persistence, diligence, patience and self-sacrifice. Chavez successfully organized peaceful protests, boycotts, pickets, strikes and directed the union so that it aimed at recognition of the dignity of farm workers. Chavez trained the farm workers and sent them to cities to apply to strikes and boycotts as a main weapon against unworthy treatment, disrespect, rights violation, etc. Chavez could even sacrifice his own life. The leader fasted several times in protest and blamed the powerful for their arrogance and antipathetic attitude towards the helpless. Moreover, he called the fast a kind of purification of soul, mind and body. For him it was “a heartfelt prayer for purification and strengthening for all those who work beside”¦in the farm worker movement”¯ (Chavez).

According to his philosophy, all things were possible and he proved it with the actions. Chavez propagated a return to sustainable organic farming for restoring of ecological equilibrium and encouraged farmers to be more concerned about their lives’ control and consumer confidence (Thomas). Chavez promoted food justice campaign which has flown over the whole world; he lobbied the 1975 California Agriculture Labor Relations Act passage, which till now remains the only law ensuring farm workers’ right to form unions. Chavez was awarded with the Aguila Azteca, Mexico’s highest award and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom for leader’s contribution to both human and animal rights.

Chavez untimely passed away. But his business is not neglected, as Santos C. Vega said: “May those who remain in this life continue the struggle in non-violence”¦for a better life for all concerned”¯ (Vega).

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