Fast Times on the Border.

AuthorRoberts, Zach D.

From a humble office in the border town of San Juan, Texas, staff and volunteers at the small nonprofit La Union del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, help low-income migrant workers work within the system. Founded in 1989 by legendary labor and civil rights activists Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, the organization provides workers with translators, helps them fill out paperwork, and organizes political actions. In mid-2018, LUPE organized a rally and rolling fast to protest the U.S. government's separation of immigrant children from their families. The event also marked the fiftieth anniversary of Cesar Chavez's famous 1968 fast, part of a migrant grape workers strike in California.

A half-dozen volunteers and staffers sweat it out in LUPE's "union hall," making phone calls and churning out promotion for the rally and fast on half-working laptops as the ninety-degree heat forced its way inside.

LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox takes in the history of the moment. Fifty years earlier, Chavez broke his twenty-five-day water-only fast, which left him in dangerous health. He was accompanied by Robert F. Kennedy, who would be assassinated a few weeks later.

The phrase "!S! Se Puede!" ("Yes We Can!") was famously adopted by Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. But it was coined by Huerta during Chavez's 1972 "Fast for Justice" fighting for farmworkers' right to strike in Arizona.

A LUPE volunteer and child prepare for the rally...

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