ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Mexican-American civil rights activist Dolores Huerta said she holds no ill feelings toward actress Rosario Dawson over her "open letter" criticizing Huerta for supporting Hillary Clinton for president.
In an interview with The Associated Press late Monday, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers said she respects Dawson and still considers her a friend. However, Huerta said she thinks Clinton will be more productive in protecting Latinos as president.
Dawson, who portrayed Huerta in the movie "Cesar Chavez," is supporting Bernie Sanders for president. In a letter last month, she called out Huerta for not helping elect the Vermont senator.
The United Farm Workers was founded in 1962 by Cesar Chavez and Huerta and works to increase wages and improve working conditions for members.
Huerta said Dawson's letter divided Latino voters — a situation she blamed on the Sanders campaign.
"I think that our campaign for Hillary Clinton in the Latino community is being effective and that's why (the Sanders campaign) is asking people like Rosario Dawson to come out and attack me," Huerta said. "I guess they think they can silence my voice by doing that."
Erika Andiola, national press secretary for Latino outreach for the Sanders campaign, said Dawson is a leader and activist in the Latino community for many years who speaks for herself.
"Rosario's piece talks about the issues that she cares about the most and sets the record straight on some of the misleading comments that have come from the Clinton campaign," Andiola said. "Anyone who reads her piece can see that this is not about dividing the Latino community, but rather to have a serious and necessary discussion about (these) issues that our community cares about and who will be the best candidate for us in 2016."
Huerta said she still admires Dawson, despite this difference of opinion about politics. "I don't hold anything against Rosario Dawson," said Huerta. She said Dawson has been supportive of her foundation and appreciates Dawson's activism.
Dawson, an actress of Puerto Rican and Cuban ancestry, wrote in a March 24 letter that the Mexican-American leader is hurting her legacy by supporting Clinton, who Dawson said is facing an FBI investigation over her email.
"Dolores, I am surprised, dismayed, and concerned that you would do your legacy such a disservice by becoming an instrument of the establishment, rather than joining this movement to create a better America like you once inspired us to do," Dawson wrote.
Dawson said Clinton's record on various issues conflicted with causes Huerta has long supported, from immigration reform to halting off-shore drilling.
Her letter drew criticism and support on social media from some Latino activists.
A publicist for Dawson did not immediately return emails and phone messages.
Huerta said she understood why some activists might be disappointed in her for not supporting Sanders since they agree on many issues. But Huerta said she feels Clinton will get more things done as president.
"When the dust settles...we are going to be together," Huerta said. "And we need to be together to defeat Donald Trump or Ted Cruz."
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/russell-contreras