Obama’s “Si Se Puede!”

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When Obama invoked the specter of Cesar Chavez this week in a rally with the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada by proclaiming “Si Se Puede!” — Chavez’s legendary rallying cry — I was surprised. After all, the United Farm Workers, Chavez’s organization, had endorsed Hillary in May.

So I called an old acquaintance from college, Paul Chavez – Cesar’s grandson – and asked him if the family okayed Obama’s use of the slogan. Turns out, they had – through the Cesar Chavez Foundation, which keeps Chavez’s archives. “The foundation itself is comfortable with him using the slogan “Si Se Puede” and so is the UFW to a certain extent,” said Paul Chavez, who works with the foundation. “Being that the UFW is very strongly for organized labor and they have a very strong commitment to the Clinton camp there was some conflict internally. The way that it played out was that as long as any individual, whether it’s Hillary, whether it’s Obama, maintains and supports the standards of what the slogan is than we’re comfortable with it because we really feel that it shouldn’t be limited to just one camp. It’s a battle cry, a call to action whether it’s to voting or getting out and participating in the political process.”