Santa Ana : Cesar Chavez to Speak in Support of Rent Strike

Labor Leader Cesar Chavez has agreed to speak in Santa Ana April 13 in support of Latinos involved in a renters' strike.

In an interview Wednesday, Chavez said he was asked to appear two weeks ago, when he visited Orange County to speak at UC Irvine.

Chavez said he had intended to meet with Santa Ana tenant organizer Nativo Lopez, but when Lopez fell ill, he met with several of the renters instead.

"I did talk to some of the folks involved in the rent strike," Chavez said, adding that he thought they are doing a "fine job."

The strike, now in its second month, is intended to force landlords to clean up and repair their properties.

Gilbert R. Melendez, another organizer, said he has never met Chavez but believes the president of the United Farm Workers AFL-CIO can give a "boost" to the renters' movement.

"I think it's great for our cause. Even though the renters aren't farm workers, they're still poor people, and they have needs. I'd be honored to meet him," Melendez said.

Chavez's talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Our Lady of the Pillar Catholic Church, Santa Ana. A fund-raising banquet to benefit the renters' cause is being considered for the same evening.

More than 500 Latino renters in five neighborhoods have joined the rent rebellion.

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