Are Cesar Chavez and Hugo the same person? Is everyone named Chavez somehow interrelated?
That’s the question that has stymied a number of Americans this week in the wake of the re-election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez—an event that coincided with U.S. President Barack Obama’s dedication of a monument to Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez.
As has been amply demonstrated online, a number of people appear to be under the impression the two Chavezes are one and the same. Even though Cesar happens to have been dead since 1993, was an American, and was not of Venezuelan descent. Unlike Hugo.
haha, seriously?! people don’t know the diff between HUGO chavez and CESAR chavez? and i don’t mean the boxer.
— adrienne wright (@YOadriennnnnnne) October 9, 2012
Allow us to make this very, very clear
Cesar Chavez the labor-organizer vs Hugo Chavez
Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor, civil rights and Latino political leader, says the Cesar Chavez Foundation website. 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. He served in the U.S. 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” in which many of these laborers found themselves.
In 1962, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which would eventually 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 have made him very much Not Like Hugo).
Chavez won many victories for farm laborers, who were formerly an essentially powerless group, and used non-violent techniques inspired by Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to achieve his goals. He also took a lifelong vow of poverty, and coined the phrase “Si, si puede! (Yes, We Can!).” You probably remember that from Obama’s campaign.
Cesar died in 1993, which means it is unlikely he would have been able to conjure up a second act as a Venezuelan socialist strongman. Even if he had wanted to!
Robert Kennedy called him “one of the heroic figures of our time,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
It is unlikely Kennedy would have said that about Hugo Chavez, who is, one not American, two, not particularly heroic, and three, Robert Kennedy died long before The Venezuelan president came to power in 1999.
President Obama dedicated the Cesar Chavez Monument at the labor leader’s former home in Keene, California on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Hugo Chavez was re-elected on Sunday to another six year term as the president of Venezuela. This happened to be the day before President Obama dedicated a monument to Cesar Chavez in California, as noted above. This may just be the source of all this confusion.