It has come to my attention that not all of you are aware that Hugo Chavez and Cesar Chavez are different people.
Indeed, quite a few Americans appear to be under the impression President Obama recently attended the dedication of a monument to Hugo Chavez, the pudgy and hard-to-control socialist leader of Venezuela.
When in fact, he was attending the dedication of a monument to Cesar Chavez, a Latino labor leader who organized farm workers in California. A man who has been dead since 1993 and has nothing whatsoever to do with modern-day Venezuela.
Allow me to make this very, very clear.
Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor, civil rights, and Latino political leader. Born in Arizona in 1927, Chavez’s family lost their land during the Great Depression, forcing them to move to California to become migrant workers. Chavez served in the US Navy during the war, then moved with his wife to Los Angeles.
While working for the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group, Chavez began to realize his dream of creating a farm workers union, recognizing the “trap” many of these laborers found themselves in.
In 1962, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which would become the United Farm Workers. During the 1960s, Cesar Chavez even turned down an offer from John F Kennedy to make him head of the Peace Corps in Latin America, which would make him very much Not Like Hugo Chavez.
Chavez won many victories for farm laborers, who were formerly an essentially powerless group, and used non-violent techniques inspired by Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr to achieve his goals. He also took a life-long vow of poverty, and coined the phrase “Si, si puede!” (Yes, We Can!). You probably remember that from Obama’s campaign.
Cesar Chavez died in 1993, which means it is unlikely he would have been able to conjure up a second act as a Venezuelan socialist despot. Even if he had wanted to! Also that would be crazy!
Rob Kennedy called Chavez “one of the heroic figures of our time.” It is unlikely he would have said that about Hugo Chavez, as Hugo Chavez is 1. not American, 2. not particularly heroic and 3. Rob Kennedy died long before Hugo Chavez came to power.
Obama dedicated the Cesar Chavez Monument in California at the labor leaders former home in Keene, California on Monday.
Cesar Chavez Monument, not Hugo Chavez Monument.
This is Hugo Chavez, who has led Venezuela with a Socialist, anti-American government since 1999. That would be six years after Cesar Chavez died at the age of 66 in San Luis, Arizona in 1993.