By Jeff Sklar
DANIELLE MALLOTT /Arizona Daily Wildcat
Anti-war protester Barbara Hall holds up a peace sign at the César Chávez rally at Mission Park Avenue on Saturday morning.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday March 31, 2003
The legacy of labor leader César Chávez and the war in Iraq took center stage at a south-side rally Saturday that organizers estimated drew 650 Tucsonans, including a variety of UA student groups.
Speakers at the third annual César Chávez Day March and Rally for Peace and Justice drew sharp contrasts between the ideals of Chávez, who spent decades in the latter part of the 20th century fighting for farmworkers' rights, and the U.S. policy on war, which they called autocratic and imperialistic.
Representatives from several UA student groups, including Students Against Sweatshops, the Alliance for Peace and Justice in the Middle East and the Student Taskforce for Democracy, attended the event, which took place at Mission Park, 6100 S. 12th Ave., to voice support for those ideas.
The comparison between Chávez's cause and the war was appropriate, said Carrie Brown, president of UA's Alliance for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, who compared the plight of migrant farmworkers to that of the Iraqi people.
"(Chávez) took the peace movement to the labor movement and the civil rights movement," said Ray Siqueiros, a UA alumnus and one of the event's organizers.
In contrast with Chávez's ideals, the U.S. government is imposing its will on the Iraqi people without the support of many American people, said Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who represents much of south and west Tucson.
"America is about talking to each other," Grijalva said. "America is about listening. The other side is the American people that have not been listened to."
The government's failure to listen has isolated it from its own people, as well as the rest of the world, some speakers said.
"Let us remember that the empire continues," said Raquel R. Goldsmith, an adjunct lecturer in the UA's Mexican-American studies department. "We must create together a vision of what we want, not of what is imposed on us ∑ but what we want for our children and all who come after," she said.
Joining in the protest were several people dressed in costumes mocking U.S. foreign policy. One person wore a 10-foot-tall white suit and a giant skull saying "oligarchy." Another dressed as a bloodstained, black-eyed Statue of Liberty.
But for one UA student, some of the color at the rally detracted from the importance of the dissent movement. Music senior Michael Friedmann said he wanted to see more discussion of the facts.
"A lot of these people know a lot of stuff about what's going on and that needs to get out," Friedmann said.