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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Government Surveillance Of Chicano Activism
Program #

Armando Gutiérrez
Romeo Rodríguez
Apr 7, 1978

Government Surveillance of Chicano Activism

Romeo Rodriguez discusses his work with the Chicano Legal Defense Fund and their efforts to uncover the extent of the government surveillance and harassment of the Chicano Movement. Rodriguez explains that several Chicano leaders, including Jose Angel Gutierrez, created the fund in 1977 in an effort to determine whether intelligence agencies had violated the rights of Chicano activists, to publicize those abuses, and to file a lawsuit against the intelligence community. While the government has spied on dissenters since the early 1800s, Rodriguez says that their activities became more well known in the aftermath of Watergate. The Church Committee uncovered documents that revealed the FBI had deliberately engaged in activities designed to neutralize or destroy leftist organizations, including the Black Panther Party.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the fund was able to obtain over four thousand pages of documents that reveal a massive program directed against the Chicano movement and its leaders. Rodriguez believes the investigation started around 1968, involved many Chicano organizations and continued despite the agencies’ own admission that they had not found links to communists or evidence of violent activities. The documents also reveal that the agencies planted informers who spied on the movement and tried to sow dissension at their meetings. Rodriguez believes some of these informers may have burglarized or bombed several Chicano movement headquarters. The Fund plans to initiate a lawsuit to obtain more documents.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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