The tragic death of Genoveva's son Juan Torrez served as a catalyst in the UFW's fight for the inclusion of farm workers under workers compensation laws.
The tragic death of Genoveva’s son Juan Torrez served as a catalyst in the UFW’s fight for the inclusion of farm workers under workers compensation laws.

A rare postcard shows Genoveva Puga, a migrant farm worker, kneeling at her son’s grave, hidden beneath tall grass in the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery on East Schunior Street in Edinburg. The photograph on the postcard shows Genoveva finding her son’s grave for the first time after returning from working the fields up north.

While Genoveva was away, her son Juan Torrez was crushed to death as he loaded crates of fruit onto a truck owned by Donna Fruit Company. When she returned to the Rio Grande Valley, she searched for her son’s grave, and then searched for justice.

With help from the United Farm Workers, Genoveva brought a wrongful death action against Donna Fruit Company, and took it all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1982. As a result of Genoveva’s case, the Texas legislature passed legislation in 1984 guaranteeing workers compensation coverage for all farm workers.

The tragic death of Juan Torrez served as a catalyst in the UFW’s fight for the inclusion of farm workers under workers compensation laws, and Genoveva was one of their strongest champions.

Genoveva’s story is one of many stories that have influenced who we are today.

Founded by farm worker leader and UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, LUPE was born out of the farm worker movement that has over 50 years of history improving working conditions in the fields of the United States. You can become a caretaker of farm worker movement history by participating in La Union del Pueblo Entero’s 2nd Biennial Gala.

Our Gala is an opportunity to share the stories that have made our union strong, celebrate our victories, and build together toward a future where all colonias and low-income neighborhoods of Hidalgo County enjoy dignity and human rights.

The postcard is one of two rare postcards that will be auctioned together as a set in a silent auction during the Gala. The event will take place Thursday, October 15, at 7pm at Valencia Event Center, located at 3012 S Jackson Rd in McAllen. James Harrington, lead attorney in Genoveva’s case, will be honored at the Gala with LUPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other pieces of farm worker movement history available as part of the silent auction include a UFW eagle medallion signed by Cesar Chavez, a UFW flag signed by Dolores Huerta and current UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, and an extremely rare UFW pin showing support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) farm workers.

Become a caretaker of farm worker movement history and help support LUPE’s continued work toward stronger, healthier communities in the Rio Grande Valley by joining us at our 2nd Biennial Gala. For tickets and to view and bid on auction items, visit gala2015.lupenet.org

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