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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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PROGRAM INFO

Title:
More On The Plight Of The Texas Farm Workers: The Raymondsville Strike
Program #
1979-23
Theme:
Politics

Series:
Labor
Host:
Armando Gutiérrez
Guest:
Marcial Silva
Date:
May 9, 1979

More on the Plight of the Texas Farm Workers: the Raymondsville Strike

Marcial Silva, organizer for Texas Farm Workers Union, brings an update on the legal developments in the Raymondsville strike, and outlines the legislative and political strategies the TFWU undertook to thwart Charles Wetegrove’s control of Willacy County’s political and legal structure.

The update starts with the current impasse between strikers and the Wetegrove onion corporation. Marcial Silva explains that strikers and the local community have been able to tap into the sense of solidarity and shared labor consciousness among the strikebreakers recruited by Wetegrove. Silva claims that close to 80 percent of workers refuse to enter the fields when they confront the picket line, and that the remaining 20 percent usually join after working under the eyes of the community for approximately two hours. Workers from Reynosa, Las Flores and even Colorado have joined the picketline in Raymondsville. Moreover, local packingshed workers with Griffin & Brand have also struck, refusing to pack Wetegrove onions. Griffin & Brand then coordinated with the professional classes in raymondsville, having them work in the packingshed to deal with the harvest. Silva reported the deep irony of witnessing bankers, lawyers, country club members and policemen complaining about their work conditions in the packingshed. He also pointed out that this solidarity happened because of their presence on the international bridge in Hidalgo, as well as their radio show in Reynosa.

Marcial Silva used the current legal challenge facing TFWU to illustrate what he called “South Texas Justice,” the deep interpenetration of land-owning interests and local courts and criminal enforcement in South Texas counties. He used the 1972 federal court decision against the Texas Rangers for their involvement in the 1966 Melon pickers strike, the 1975 decision by a Webb County judge to charge strikers with trespassing on public property after Will Miller shot eleven people for marching from the International Bridge in Hidalgo to the El Tejano Ranch. In Raymondsville, the organizers have been charged and jailed for disturbing the peace, grand felony, resisting arrest and other numerous charges, bleeding the union to death through a thousand little cuts. The union has responded by adopting a state-wide legislative strategy, and has begun to focus on local elections. Side note: Marcial Silva noted the presence of documentarian Hart Perry, maker of The Valley of Tears

 

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