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Farmworker Movement Documentation Project > COMMENTARY > FRANCISCO GARCIA: FARM WORKER TROUBADOUR Vol. 1 (Essay + Songs + Translation + Photos)

FRANCISCO GARCIA: FARM WORKER TROUBADOUR Vol. 1 (Essay + Songs + Translation + Photos)

By Abby Flores Rivera

FRANCISCO GARCIA: FARM WORKER TROUBADOUR Vol.1

 

 

Francisco (Pancho) Garcia 2005

 

Francisco (Pancho) Garcia: Farm Worker Troubadour

by Abby Flores Rivera 

INDEX OF SONGS

Play Songs

1. Ballad of the National Lettuce Boycott

Corrido del boicoteo de Lechuga

2. March In Salinas

Marcha en Salinas

3. The Black Eagle

El Aguila Negra

4. Ballad:  I Am Chicano

Corrido:  Yo Soy Chicano

5. An untitled song about the Mexican Revolution

Una canción sin título de la Revolución Mexicana 

6. General Strike

Huelga en General

7. Ballad of Delano (rendition of Lalo Guerrero’s song)

Corrido de Delano (traducción del corridor por Lalo Guerrero) 

INTRODUCTION:

After tracking down Señor Garcia in 2005, at a trailer park in Delano he was enlisted to come to Terry and Jim Scott’s Sand Flea Studios in Hermosa Beach, California to record his music for LeRoy Chatfield’s Farm Worker Documentation Project. The words in the selections below are written stanza by stanza in Spanish first followed by the English translation and with a brief comment before each song.

 In the early ‘70s it was my good fortune to hear Sr. Garcia play and sing his music for the first time. It was not at a movement march or rally but at private weekend backyard get-togethers in Delano with current and former union staff. i.e. Helen Chavez, Petra Ovalle, Carmen Serda, Esther Uranday, and Linda Chavez to name a few. As we waited for the slow roasting chicken to cook he would entertain us with old traditional Mexican ballads, corridos, and movement songs. The wonderful music lasted into the night; the sweet melodies becoming an extension of Sr. Garcia’s gentle personality and large heart.  Today, listening to his music, it is not only a pleasure to think back on those fond memories of times shared with dear friends, but to learn that the history of the farm worker movement has been preserved in song by someone who was witness to the events of the time. Sr. Garcia’s admiration and loyalty to Cesar Chavez and his farm worker movement is evident in his original compositions.  

 Sr, Francisco (Pancho) Garcia was a lettuce farm worker who walked out on strike in 1970 from D’Arrigo Farms in Salinas. A short time later he volunteered for assignment to New York City when a national boycott of lettuce was declared by the UFW.  One year later he returned to La Paz, the union headquarters in Keene, California, where he worked for the Construction Department. He was reassigned to the Forty Acres in Delano, the former home base of the union, as part of the construction crew that built the Agbayani Village, retirement housing for Filipino union members. In 1973, the union once again found itself in a major strike when the grape contracts expired in Delano. Pancho returned to the fields to organize workers. The strike picket lines were eventually called-off because of the violence against farm workers. Pancho settled in Delano alternately working there and at La Paz until he retired in 1983.  He has continuously remained a tireless supporter of the UFW.           –Abby F. Rivera

UFW Salinas Lettuce Strike 1970 / Photo by Hub Segur

  Song #1: Ballad of the National Lettuce Boycott/Corrido del Boicoteo de Lechuga

In this song written by Francisco Garcia, he recounts the story of the 1970 lettuce strike in Salinas, California where the growers have had a history of exploiting and humiliating workers and of buying-off politicians who pass laws that favor the rich.

 Voy a recorder a todos
Todo lo que ha sucedido,
Estado de California.
En los Estados Unidos,
Los ricos compran la ley,
A contra del campesino.

I’m going to remind everyone
Everything that happened
In the state of California
In the United States of America
The rich buy the law
Aimed against farm workers

En el Valle de Salinas,
Donde al pobre han explotado,
Dicen que son millonarios
Y al pueblo han humillado
Con el dinero del pobre
Hasta el gobierno han comprado

In the Salinas Valley
Where the poor has been exploited
It is said it is the millionaires
Who have degraded the farm workers.
With money rightfully belonging to the poor
They have even bought the powers-that-be

Viva la unión campesina
Viva la revolución
El boicoteo nacional
En todita la nación

Long-live the farm worker’s union
Long-live the revolution
The national boycott
Throughout the entire land.

Cesar Chavez es el lider
De la gente pobre humilde,
Desde que llego a Salinas
Los ricos parecen viles.
Por eso nuestra gente unida
Que ahora trabaja en los files.

Cesar Chavez is the leader
Of the poor and humble people
Since he arrived in Salinas
The rich act despicably
That is why our people are united
Who now organize in the fields.

Cesar Chavez es el lider
Todo mundo lo ha notado
Que ha luchado por el pueblo
Que el rico siempre ha explotado
Prefiero ser prisionero
Que ver el pueblo humillado.

Cesar Chavez is the leader
Everybody recognizes
Who has fought for farm workers
Whom the rich always have exploited.
I prefer to be a prisoner
Than to see the farm worker humiliated.

Viva la unión campesina
Viva la revolución
El boicoteo nacional
En todita la nación

Long-live the farm worker’s union
Long-live the revolution
The national boycott
Throughout the entire land

Nuestra cause no es injusta
Todo mundo ha respetado
Lideres de todo el mundo
Nuestra causa han apoyado
A boicotear los productos
De los ricos desalmados

Our cause is not unjust
Everybody respects it
Leaders throughout the world
Have endorsed our cause
To boycott the produce
Of the heartless rich growers

Viva la unión campesina
Viva la revolución
El boicoteo nacional
En todita la nación

Long-live the farm worker’s union
Long-live the revolution
The national boycott
Throughout the entire land

Song #2: Marcha En Salinas/ March In Salinas

This song written by Francisco Garcia is about the Salinas Lettuce Strike of 1970. Cesar Chavez came to organize workers immediately after the Grape Strike ended in Delano. Cesar was jailed in Salinas for the strike activity. Hundreds of workers joined in the strike and the first lettuce contract signed was with Inter Harvest. This song presents a panoramic picture that recalls some of the moments of that historic event.

Es en el año ’70 ya todo mundo lo sabe
Que se ha ganado la lucha (Delano)
Por nuestro gran Cesar Chavez
El lider que siempre lucha
Por los derechos iguáles

It’s in the year ’70 and everybody has
heard
That the struggle has been won (Delano)
By our great Cesar Chavez
The leader who always fights
For equal rights

Es en Delano famoso donde esa causa empezó
Eso hace unos cuantos años
Pero el tiempo se llegó
Que saliera victorioso
El triúnfo ya se ganó

It is in famous Delano where our cause began
It’s been a few years back
But the time finally came
That he should prove victorious
We have overcome.

Al grito de “!Viva Chavez!” nuestro pueblo se aníma
Al iniciar una marcha
Desde Delano a Salinas
A luchar por los derechos de nuestra gente bendita

To the shouts of “Long-live Chavez!” many people are encouraged
To kick-off a march.
From Delano to Salinas
All fight for the rights of our blesséd people.

Al escuchar las noticias tambien los pueblos vecinos
Se unieron los campesinos,
Especialmente latinos
Pero habia de toda raza,
Marchando niñas y niños

Upon hearing the news even neighboring towns joined the farm workers,
Especially the Latinos
There were all races,
Marching, girls and boys

Contra la union de agresivos que en el Valle de Salinas
Nos venden con los rancheros
Sin consultar al obrero
Para que los campesinos
Se traten como braceros

Against a united aggressor who in the Salinas Valley
Sell us out to the growers,
Without consulting the workers,
So farm workers can be treated like braceros

Tenemos muchos contrarios
No les está ‘pareciendo
Que luchémos por el pueblo
Que los está enriqueciendo
Pero nuestros triúnfos son buenos
Porque seguimos venciendo

We have many opponents
They do not take kindly to us
That we fight for our people
Who are making them rich
But our struggle is just
Because we continue to prevail.

Y al canto de Venceremos con
gran banderas al viento
Llegan de los cuatro rumbos
Todos a un mismo tiempo
Salinas quedo asombrado
Con éste gran movimiento

And to the song of We Shall Overcome with
Mighty flags fluttering in the wind
All arrive at the same time
From all four directions
Salinas stood amazed
At this great movement.

Cesar Chavez & The Black Eagle / Photo by Jon Lewis 1966

Song #3: The Black Eagle/El Aguila Negra

In this song written by Francisco Garcia, he pays tribute to the black eagle which is the symbol found in the center of the farm worker union flag. The flag was designed by Manuel Chavez, Cesar’s cousin. This allegorical song portrays the movement as an eagle swooping down demanding that exploited workers in the Salinas strike be released from the clutches of the grower, labor contractors, and crew bosses. It makes mention of the important role women played in the movement and of Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the UFW. He mentions New York most likely because of his sweet memories of working in the lettuce boycott there.

Ya llego el aguila negra
Desenganche gavilanes
Apoderado entre sus garras
Y nos tienen que soltar
No se asusten contratistas, mayordomos y rancheros
Pedir la cosa justa no los vamos a matar

The black eagle has arrived
Hawks open your claws
We’ve been held captive in your clutches
You have to release us
Don’t be afraid contractors, crew bosses and ranchers
We seek what is just but will not harm you.

Viva el aguila negra
Viva la causa
Que viva nuestra union
Nuestro lider Cesar Chavez
Que trúnfe su liderazgo
Viva nuestro movimiento
En California y Nueva York

Long-live the black eagle
Long-live the cause
Long-live our union
Our leader Cesar Chavez
May his leadership endure
Long-live the farm worker movement
In California and in New York

En el valle de Salinas
El valle de los escalvos
Basta que amenazan
Nos querian intimidar
Esa gente sin conciencia
Nos provocaba violencia
Y nosotros sin violencia
Les tuvimos que ganar

In the Salinas Valley
The valley of suffering,
It’ was enough that they threatened us
But they also wanted to instill fear,
That bunch without conscience.
They assaulted with violence
And we had to fight back
Non-violently to win

Viva el aguila negra
Viva la causa
Que viva nuestra union
Nuestro lider Cesar Chavez
Que trúnfe su liderazgo
Viva nuestro movimeinnto
En California y Nueva York

Long-live the black eagle
Long-live the cause
Long-live our union
Our leader Cesar Chavez
May his leadership endure
Long-live the farm worker movement
In California and in New York

Vivan todas las mujeres
Que se mantienen alertas
Eso y muy animosas es la purita verdad
Y entre ellas nuestra lider
¡Que Viva Dolores Huerta!
Porque siempre a toda fuerza
Luchará sin descansar

Long-live the women
Who keep themselves active.
That, and also strongly supportive.
It’s the genuine truth
And within that group, our leader.
Long-live Dolores Huerta
Because always with forcefulness
Will fight without stopping

Viva el aguila negra
Viva la causa
Que viva nuestra union
Nuestro lider Cesar Chavez
Que trúnfe su liderazgo
Viva Nuestro movimeinnto
En California y Nueva York

Long-live the black eagle
Long-live the cause
Long-live our union
Our leader Cesar Chavez
May his leadership endure
Long-live the farm worker movement
In California and in New York

Song #4: Corrido, Yo Soy Chicano/Ballad: I Am Chicano

In this song written by Francisco Garcia, he sings about his Mexican heritage and the journey of sacrifice made by many who came to the United States. It is interesting to note that farm workers drew great strength and pride by comparing their struggle in the fields with their history of oppression and struggle for freedom in Mexico from foreign invaders.

Yo soy chicano y tengo orgullo
Quien haya el monje
Que asi me bautizo
Pero primero esta mi raza
Y en seguida la mezclita
De indio con español

I am Chicano and have pride
Who can find the priest
Who baptized me as such?
But first is my race
Promptly following the mixture of Indian and Spanish blood

Yo soy chicano
De colorado
Y tengo orgullo de ser del gran Atzlán
Que se repita la misma historia
Tengo costumbres del gran Tenochtitlan

I am Chicano
To the core
And am proud to be from Atzlán
Let history repeat itself
I have customs from the great Tenochtitlan

En el pasado nuestros hermanos
Dieron sus vidas
Combatiendo al invasor
En la sangrienta cruel batalla
Con sangre el gran Rio Bravo se regó

In the past our brother
Gave their lives fighting the invader
In the bloody cruel battle
The great Rio Bravo was showered with our blood

Ahora han surgido nuevos Zapatas
Nuevos Villas
Hombres de gran honor
Y entre las bellas tambien bonitas
Las Adelitas que luchan con valor

There now have risen new Zapatas
New Villas,
Men of great honor
And among the beauties who are also lovely
The Adelitas that fight with valor

Yo soy chicano
Asi me llaman
Pero mexicano por la vieja tradición
Por el Rio Bravo
Y el Colorado
Con nuestra sangre
El Rio Bravo se regó

I am Chicano
That’s what they call me
But Mexican by age-old tradition
Throughout the Rio Bravo
And the Colorado
The Rio Bravo was showered
With our blood

Song # 5: Una canción de la Revolución Mexicana (sin título)/Untitled song about the Mexican Revolution

This is not one of his own compositions but according to Francisco Garcia he sings this song because he has run out of other movement songs to sing during the taping. This ballad is about a poor Mexican Indian who joins the Mexican Revolution to change the oppressive circumstances he and those before him have endured under Spanish rule. It is easy to understand why farm workers would draw parallels about that past struggle in history to change their condition and their own present struggle.

Yo nací cuando la luna
Se escondia tras de un nopal
Un petal se fue mi cuna
En pleno Camino Real

I was born when the moon
Hid behind a cactus
A petal was my cradle
Right on the Camino Real
A las dos de la mañana
Dicen que el gallo cantó
Dijo con todas sus ganas
Quien haya quien te mandó

At two in the morning
They say the rooster crowed
He cried out with all his might
“Who can locate who delivered you here?”

Como fui tan pobrecito
De huarache y de calzón
Me voltie contra los ricos
En plena revolución

Since I was so poor
Dressed in huaraches and white cotton trousers
I turned against the rich
In open revolution

Zacatecas y Coahuila
En Chihuahua y Nuevo León
Yo le díje a Pancho Villa
Que estaba al pie del cañón

Zacatecas and Coahuila
In Chihuahua and in Nuevo Leon
I notified Pancho Villa
That I was at the bottom of the canyon

Yo probé la agua bendita
En la boca de un cañón
Y canté con Adelita
Mi más bonita canción

I tasted the holy water
At the mouth of a canyon
And sang with Adelita
My most beautiful song

Como fuí tan pobricito
De huarache y de calzón
Me voltie contra los ricos
En plena revolución

Since I was so poor
Dressed in huaraches and white cotton trousers
I turned against the rich
In open revolution

Zacatecas y Coahuila
En Chihuahua y Nuevo León
Yo le díje a Pancho Villa
Que estaba al pie del cañón
Zacatecas and Coahuila
In Chihuahua and in Nuevo Leon
I notified Pancho Villa
That I was at the bottom of the canyon

Luis Valdez UFW Organizer / Photo by Jon Lewis 1966

Song #6: Huelga en General (una traducción por Fancisco Garcia)/General Strike (rendition by Francisco Garcia) written by Luis Valdez (musican tradicccional de cuba/traditional Cuban music

This song was written by Luis Valdez. It was performed and taught to workers by the Teatro Campesino the union’s musical theater group. The song is about the 1965 Delano Grape Strike. It pokes fun at the growers but also at the scabs brought in as strike breakers. In a newer rendition of this old standard, Francisco Garcia identifies the scabs as being brought in from Mexico and Texas. This song quickly became a favorite of grape strikers because it had an encouraging message of resolve. It is also one of the first songs written that had a direct quote by Cesar Chavez familiar to the farm workers on strike at the time. The strike with Delano area grape growers lasted five years.

Hasta Mexico ha llegado la noticia muy alegre que Delano es diferente
Pues el pueblo ya está encontra, los rancheros y engreídos que acavaban con la gente
Y como somos hermanos, la alegría compartirémos con todos los campesinos
Viva la revolución! Viva nuestra Associación! Viva huelga en general!

All the way to Mexico the happy news has been transported that Delano is different
The people are in battle with the growers and their flunkies who abused and crushed the workers
And since we are all bothers, we share our happiness with all farm workers.
Long-live the revolution! Long-live our Association! Long-live the general strike!

Viva la union en el fil
Viva la causa en la historia
La raza llena de gloria
La victoria va cumplir

Long-live the union in the fields
Long-live the movement in history
The people rich in dignity
The victory will win

Dicen los patroncitos que el trabajo siempre se hace con bastantes esquiroles
Y de nuevo león y tejas han traido sin verguenza
Muertas de hambre por frijoles
Pero hombres de la raza se fajan y no se rajan mientras la uva se hace pasa
Viva la revolución! Viva nuestra Associación! Viva huelga en general!

The lil’ growers tell us that work is done with a great number of scabs
And from Nuevo Leon (Mexico) and Texas they shamefully have brought
Hungry farm workers who sell-out for measly beans
But workers with nerve dig their heels in and bravely take a stance while the grapes turn into raisins
Long live the revolution! Long live our Association! Long live the general strike!

Viva la union en el fil
Viva la causa en la historia
La raza llena de gloria
La victoria va cumplir

Long-live the union in the fields
Long-live the movement in history
The people rich in dignity
The victory will win

Ya saben los patroncitos que ni caro ni barato compraran nuestros hermanos
Y como es bien sabido que pa’ mantener familias mas sueldos necesitamos
Como dice Cesar Chavez, “Ya esta bueno compañeros, esta huelga ganarémos.”
Abajo los contratistas! Arriba nuestos huelgistas! Que se acabe el esquirol!

The lil’ growers know full-well that our brothers will not sell-out for a high price or on the cheap
And as it’s well-known that to care for our families’ higher wages is what is really needed
As Cesar Chavez tells us, “Enough brothers and sisters, we will win this strike!”
Down with the labor contractors! Up with our strikers! Wipeout all the dirty scabs!

Viva la union en el fil…

Song #7: Corrido de Delano por Lalo Guerrero (traduccion por Fco. Garcia/ Ballad of Delano by Lalo Guerrero (rendition by Fco. Garcia)

Lalo Guerrero was a professional singer and a good friend of Cesar Chavez. His is the first recording of the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 to hit the airwaves in Delano. Farm workers were extremely excited about the attention it received. It tells the story of the first years of the 1965 grape strike. Included in the lyrics is the visit by Senator George Murphy of California and Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York who took part in the U.S. Senate Subcommittee labor hearings held in Delano in 1966, which lead to Senator Robert Kennedy’s later public support of the grape strike. At the hearings the senators learned that illegal practices by growers and by law enforcement who aided them infringed the civil rights of farm workers. The song recording was a truly proud moment for the grape strikers who were certain more people now would learn about their plight and help them.

Año del 65, 66 más o menos
Se levanto nuestra gente
En los campos de Delano
Pidiendo mejores sueldos
Por trabajar el terreno.

In the year ’65, ’66, thereabouts
Our people rose up
In the fields of Delano
Calling for better wages
For toiling in the fields.

Estado de California
En el condado de Kern
Se escucharon las palabras,
“Andale paisano ven.
A ingresar al sindicato;
Nos ira mucho más bien.”

In the state of California
In Kern County
The words were heard, “Hurry, brothers, come and join the union;
It will be a lot better for us.”

Por que salimos en huelga?
No es pa que el mundo se asombre.
Esto decia un hombre,
Cesar Chavez es su nombre.
“Solo pedimos lo justo
Y la dignidad del hombre.”

“Why do we go out on strike?
It’s not to amaze anybody.
That’s what a certain man would say,
Cesar Chavez is his name,
We only ask for what’s fair
And for human dignity.”

Estado de California
En el valle San Joaquin
Llamó tanto la atención
Este famoso motín
Que vinieron senadores
A ver si le hallaban fín.
In the state of California
In the San Joaquin Valley
This famous struggle
Drew so much attention
That senators came
To try and find a resolution.

(Murphy y Kennedy) vinieron
A consultar a nuestra gente
Escucharon las demandas
Y se fueron muy conscientes
De que se trata de un pueblo
Trabajador y decente.

(Murphy and Kennedy) came
To consult with our people
They listened to our demands
And left keenly aware.
That at the center of it all
Is a hard-working and decent people.

Con el estandard hermoso
De nuestra Guadalupana
Van marchando a Sacramento
Nuestra gente mexicana
A luchar por sus derechos.
Dios bendito haber si ganan.

With the beautiful patron banner
Of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Mexican people
Are marching to Sacramento
To fight for their rights.
Dear Lord, let’s hope they win.

Abby F. Rivera/2010


© 2004–2012 Si Se Puede Press

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