(AFP) – Oct 8, 2012
KEENE, California — President Barack Obama Monday declared a national monument honoring Hispanic civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, praising his perseverance and steadfastness as a labor organizer for struggling farm workers.
Obama, campaigning to win re-election in a November 6 vote that could hinge in large part on Latino support, recalled that Chavez had "worked for 20 years as an organizer without a single major victory" for his movement.
"But he refused to give up, he refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching, speaking out, confident that his day would come," Obama said at a campaign event at Chavez's former headquarters in Keene California.
"Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it," Obama said Monday.
This hillside village in agricultural southeastern California is the location of "La Paz" -- headquarters of Chavez's United Farm Workers union, as well as his former home and final resting place.
Following Monday's presidential decree, the spot some 110 miles (180 kilometers) north of Los Angeles will now be called the "National Cesar Chavez Monument."
It is among about 400 natural sanctuaries and historic sites on the national registry, and will be managed by the US National Park Service.
Chavez -- born in the United States in 1927 to a family of Mexican origin and who died in 1993 -- gave a voice to agricultural workers and, as a lawyer, championed in particular the rights of Mexican American or "Chicano" workers.
He is revered by the Latino community, whose votes are becoming increasing important in US elections.
In 2008, Obama was brought to power by a strong mobilization of minorities, including 66 percent of Hispanic voters, and polls show the community continues to support Obama.
Since he took office, the US president has created three other national monuments: Fort Monroe, in Virginia, and Chimney Rock, in Colorado, both states potentially crucial for victory in the presidential vote.
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