United Farm Workers leader Raquel Orendain arrived in the Rio Grande Valley in 1969 and organized alongside local farmworkers to challenge unjust labor practices in the fields of South Texas. Her work extended beyond farmworker organizing, as she collaborated with the Union y Fuerza group in Pharr, where she organized with Maria Magallan during the early 1970s to combat police brutality. Magallan remembers Orendain for her leadership, intelligence, and compassion during the time they spent fighting corrupt Pharr politicians and police.
Orendain was also a founding member of the Texas Farm Workers Union, where she was one of the leaders of the 2000-plus mile “March For Human Rights.” The TFWU marched from San Juan to Austin, then Austin to Washington D.C., as they demanded human rights for farmworkers, a fair wage, and to have collective bargaining rights. Orendain is also known for her important work at Colonias del Valle in San Juan, the first colonias’ rights organization in the Valley. At that organization, she worked as a teacher’s aide, later becoming the director of the program. Although she passed away in 1985, her work fighting for farmworkers rights, against police brutality, and for colonias in the Valley is remembered by her family, friends, and the community.