Cesar Chavez Day 2017: Donald Trump’s Twitter Silent

Cesar Chavez Day is all about justice for migrant workers, but Donald Trump’s Twitter account isn’t interested. The day is about a guy who “epitomized the spiritual and political goals of a people,” if former President Bill Clinton’s words are anything to go by.

According to the Mercury News, Clinton recognized that Cesar Chavez Day celebrates one man’s determination to “confront social injustice… mobilize tirelessly and give a voice to those marginalized” by government policies and elite attitudes.

Cesar Chavez would certainly receive a Donald Trump 'sad' Twitter comment he he were alive today.
Cesar Chavez died in 1993 after leading farm workers in a precedent-setting struggle for justice. [Image by Tim Graham/Getty Images]

Clinton went on to say that the United States “lost a great leader” when Chavez died. Cesar wasn’t merely a labor leader, although it was the struggles of migrant farm workers that brought him fame. The LA Times writes that the Cesar Chavez Day holiday honors a man who was a leader and a motivator for anyone embroiled in a battle for social justice.

“An inspiring fighter for the cause to which he dedicated his life, Cesar Chavez was an authentic hero to millions of people throughout the world.”

Chavez wasn’t popular with the powerful, the wealthy, and the profiteers when he was alive, and he certainly would not be popular in Donald Trump’s administration or his Twitter account today. Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been totally silent about the labor hero.

Trump’s policies on immigration in general, and on migrant workers in particular, have already led to multiple flare-ups and protests around the country.

The iconic civil rights activist would have celebrated turning 90 today, and since Chavez died, his birthday has been designated as Cesar Chavez Day, an official holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas. Chavez would not have hesitated to put himself on the line again in today’s fight to protect farm workers and immigrants in the face of Trump’s restrictions. Trump’s Twitter handle is getting lots of reminders from Americans about Cesar.

Cesar Chavez died in 1993, but his legacy lives on with the Cesar Chavez Day holiday.
Cesar Chavez died in 1993, but his legacy lives on with the Cesar Chavez Day holiday. [Image by Joe Raedle]

Today’s holiday commemorates Cesar’s “massive grape boycott in the late 1960s,” a boycott that maintained its strength for many years as poor farmhands insisted on radical improvements to their inhumane conditions and miserable pay. Cesar’s supporters keep checking in on Trump’s Twitter to see if Trump has mentioned Cesar Chavez Day yet.

At the height of the struggle, Chavez and the United Farm Workers labor union actually patrolled the border to stop illegal immigrants from scabbing.

Although Cesar and his people weren’t in any way against immigration, they were absolutely implacable in their determination to protect the existing farm workers during the boycott. Chavez knew that allowing undocumented immigrants into the country at the “far less policed borders” that were common in that era would benefit the landowners and wealthy who would replace the striking workers with vulnerable immigrants.

Immigration officials in Chavez’ day were happy to help out landowning farmers while the undocumented workers were useful, but on the day the crops were picked, or if workers “joined the UFW strike,” immigration police would swoop in to deport the migrants.

Steven W. Bender writes in the Oxford University Press blog that under Trump, the Mexican border is already something of a “deadly gauntlet” quite different from the border in Chavez’ day.

The border has changed today, but the attitude that migrant workers are “implements rather than humans” has not changed since Cesar Chavez died. One person asked Trump on Twitter if he’s heard of Cesar.

Dolores Huerta was a co-founder of the UFW. She explained exactly what labor activists then and on today’s holiday think of the border patrol.

“The whole thing is we wanted people not to break the strike, period. We’re not against people who are undocumented. We just don’t want them to break our strike.”

Blanca Alvarado was at Cesar’s side during the grape boycott and UFW strike. She is adamant that if Chavez were alive in this day and age, he wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to lead an uprising today to oppose what she sees as President Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-poor, and anti-marginalized policies.

“He would have called on labor unions (to organize), he would’ve called on the church community, he would’ve called on grassroots communities. He would’ve counted on all of us,” she added.

[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]