Cesar Chavez and Animal Welfare

I've not yet had the chance to see the new movie, Cesar Chavez: History is Made One Step at a Time, but I did manage to find in my files a letter written by Cesar Chavez back in December 1990. Written on United Farm Workers of America stationary, Mr. Chavez addressed the letter to Eric Mills, the director (then and now) of the advocacy group Action For Animals. That letter, in its entirety, is reprinted below.

Dear Mr Mills:

Our society is becoming increasingly concerned about the welfare of animals, both wild and domestic, and rightfully so. The area of animals used and/or abused in the entertainment industry deserves special scrutiny.

There is a great need for legislation to ensure the humane treatment of animals employed in rodeos, and I would certainly support any such bills. I understand that most rodeos don't even require that a veterinarian be present -- this seems the very least we owe the animals, who are participants through no choice of their own.

Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people.

Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos are cut from the same fabric: violence.

Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves.


Cesar Chavez, President, UFW