Valley farmworker who fought alongside Cesar Chavez dies at 101
Macario Villanueva, a migrant farmworker who fought for fair pay and better working conditions alongside civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, died Sunday in Alamo. He was 101.
Born in Villa de Guadalupe, San Luis Potosi, he moved to the United States and spent many years as a migrant farmworker.
Villanueva fought alongside civil rights leader Cesar Chavez for fair pay and better working conditions in the fields.
Family members said Villanueva suffered a heart attack while working in his yard. He died Sunday at 101 years old.
The appalling conditions that Villanueva and other migrant farmworkers faced prompted them to demand change.
"From what I remember from the fields, we lived in garages. We had outhouses," said Teresa Fraga, a relative who was like a daughter to Villanueva. "And sometimes we didn't have an outhouse just a hole, it didn't have a bench."
Farmworkers faced opposition from landowners, who sometimes responded with violence.
"It was very dangerous because some lettuce contractors were mad at us," Villanueva told CBS 4 News during an interview before his death. "Once, he almost tried to run over my daughters."
The movement started by Chavez, Villanueva and other activists continues today through organizations like La Union del Pueblo Entero.
"When you think you're powerless, you're really not unless you want to remain that way," Fraga said.
Villanueva is survived by nine children, 24 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.