Cesar Chavez’s legacy is all about peace and non-violent action. If there was ever a time for Cesar’s legacy to come alive it is now. Basic principle demands that the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, joins national and global efforts in opposing the Bush administration’s plans to mount a “preemptive” war in Iraq.

President Bush has not offered convincing evidence to the American people that war is needed because Iraq poses a real threat to our country. Yet such a use of U.S. military force would require thousands of young men and women, many of them people of color, to fight overseas in the name of democracy. President Bush’s war in Iraq would do lasting harm to our democracy here at home.

Congressional staff and think-tank experts estimate this war would cost as much a $200 billion, requiring reductions in public spending on job creation, health care, welfare, the environment and other vital government programs. Little or no U.S. funds would be available to aid cash-strapped state governments such as California, Arizona, Texas and Washington state that could soon slash health and welfare programs for poor and minority residents, including farm workers. White House officials say reductions are needed to place the federal budget “on a war footing.”

Increased military spending plus budget cuts would cause more despair for millions of impoverished working families, including farm workers, who are among the poorest and most abused workers in America. The latest U.S. Department of Labor figures show 90 percent of California farm workers earn less than $10,000 a year and 90 percent have no health coverage.

With $1.4 billion in federal funding needed to save the Los Angeles County health care system from collapse, the Bush administration wants to spend $200 billion on the war in Iraq – and $2 billion on just one B-2 bomber.

Arturo Rodriguez is the president of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and issued this statement on behalf of the union earlier this year. Chavez founded the UFW in 1962. His work on behalf of peace, workers’, immigrant and civil rights is honored in many states on his birthday, March 31. For more information go to www.ufw.org