Home / Industry News & Reports / La Campesina – ‘Spanish-Language Voice of the Resistance’


(Photo by Alondra de la Cruz via Politico)

It was first founded by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers as a fledgling information outlet in California 35 years ago, but today the radio network La Campesina has nine stations in four western states, and serves as must-listening for more than 1 million immigrants working in hotels, restaurants, and manufacturing or food-processing plants. It’s run by the Cesar Chavez Foundation.

Alondra de la Cruz, reporting in Politico about “The Spanish-Language Voice of Resistance,” likens the radio network to “the immigrant community’s version of Radio Free Europe – a voice of idealistic defiance broadcasting in hostile territory – at a time of deep partisan animus toward Latinos.” She spoke with listeners, including farmworker Norma Alvarado, who recently won a meal for colleagues by entering a contest run by the Bakersfield station.

Among Campesina’s most popular regular segments: advice on what to do if approached by an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For Alvarado, the radio contest winner, the prospect of being detained by ICE looms as her biggest fear. “We need to be on the lookout for la migra because they are going strong right now and they want us out of this country,” she says. It’s one of the main reasons she listens religiously to La Campesina: She and her colleagues carry a portable radio with them in the fields because they see the station as a lifeline.

That’s a role the radio network plays on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican listeners in San Luis Rio Colorado and Mexicali tune in to Yuma’s KCEC for its immigration-related programming. Other listeners as far south as Mexico City, Guatemala and El Salvador stream La Campesina’s programming online. All can hear tips on how to best avoid ICE and the resources available to them if they are detained.

“We are a beacon of hope for immigrants and people who are coming to the country who do not necessarily have their footings here or don’t necessarily know where to go for help,” says Cesar L. Chavez, grandson and namesake of the civil-rights leader and the general manager of La Campesina’s Bakersfield station for the past six years. “We try to guide them in the right direction.”

“There is no wall for us,” says Maria Barquin, a longtime La Campesinaemployee who now directs programming for the entire network. “The signal crosses the wall.”

Read more about La Campesina – its history and its current work – at Politico.