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Locally Owned

A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” — Albert Camus A JOURNAL OF THE BORDERLANDS JULY 2012

Est. 1994

Vol. XVII No. 19 64 PAGES


LareDOS Newspaper

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Santa María Journal

She swerved, changed her mind about killing me, and sailed effortlessly over a tall gate

By María Eugenia guerra


nebriated is not a good way to show up to offer help at sundown at the end of a long, parched workday, not while I’m using the last of my energy to wrap up all the ranch work I was able to cram into two days. I haven’t been fond of slurred words and senseless repetitions since it was me talking 35 years ago when I had my fling with whisky and soda. I’ve never thought ranch work – some of it fast and dangerous – was something you’d want to do with dulled instincts. A cold beer after the work sometimes hits the spot, but never during and never in the hottest part of the day. And so this fellow who staggered

a bit and was burning up my daylight caused me great consternation. He didn’t get how much I wanted to move the two straggling mama cows through the corrals and to the pear flats where the rest of the herd was. His appearance on the ranch irritated me and initiated a distracting loss of patience that occluded concentration. And so I did not notice how menacing was one of the mother cows. I was distracted not only by the fellow’s lethargy at the corral gates that I wanted him to shut quickly, but also by how beautiful this cow was that I was pursuing with such confidence with a mesquite branch in my right hand – her confirmation,

the health and richness of her hide, the dark pools of her eyes, her short, very pointed horns. She was monte eye candy, a sleek, healthy comeback from the devastating drought. Had I not been so tired and distracted, I might have noticed she had no fear of the mesquite branch I wielded, that her beautiful bovine eyes were smoldering, and that she was getting ready to make a serious run at me. She charged, and I had perhaps half a second to move behind a mesquite tree whose roots formed an above-ground network that made it difficult to move around it or to get very close to the thickest part of the trunk.

The realization that I was in trouble came at me in a rush of adrenaline commensurate to the speed of 800 pounds of snorting thunder and stealth coming my way, but at the last nano-second possible, she swerved, changed her mind about killing me, and sailed effortlessly over a tall gate, mangling it the way a half-ton hammer might. “Where’d she go?” the poached fellow at the gate asked as though the cow had been abracadabra-ed from the callejón. He must have blinked or caught a nap during the furious drama. “Over there,” I pointed to the pasture beyond the irreparable metal pretzel of the gate. ◆

SUBSCRIBE publisher

María Eugenia Guerra



Staff Writers

Mariela Rodríguez Silke Jasso Sales

María Eugenia Guerra


Contributors Juan Alanis

Heather Herschap

Macedonio Martínez

Cordelia Barrera

Henri Kahn

Circulation, Billing & Subscriptions

Beezie Burge

José Antonio López

meg@laredosnews.com Layout/design

Vantage Graphics


Bebe Fenstermaker

Randy Koch

Sissy Fenstermaker

Monica McGettrick

Denise Ferguson

Salo Otero

Neo Gutierrez

Evelyn June Perez

Steve Harmon

Lem Londos Railsback

Write a Letter to the Editor meg@laredosnews.com

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Johnny Canales and his co-host taped live from the Laredo Energy Area at this year’s Supply Our Students concert for the Johnny Canales Show. The Tejano music legend has supported this concert throughout the years.


Silke Jasso/LareDOS

Evelyn Perez/LareDOS

SOS Concert

Farm Animal Adventure Pamela Jordan of Intelligym Learning Center shares her knowledge about ducks and farm animals with toddlers who signed up for the school’s Farm Animal Adventure.

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Emily Altgelt/LareDOS

Imaginarium at the Farmers Market Brandy Hernandez of the Imaginarium staffed the organization’s booth at the July 21 Farmers Market, informing parents and children of the Imaginarium’s summer camps and upcoming activities.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

RGISC partners with enviro services department Ivan Santoyo of the City’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) has been a vital part of the Río Grande International Study Center’s Eco-Camp this summer. He has not only driven the campers to their field trips in and out of Laredo, but has also been an instructor for the conservation of water and energy. He is pictured at La Julieta Ranch in Bruni.


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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Circus Magic

Urban Fest slam

Audiences of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus had the opportunity to view and interact with the majestic animals before the show.

Chibbi Ordu単a, member of the Laredo Border Slam crew, along with other poets presented their works between band performances at UrbanFest 2012 on Saturday, July 8.


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Batman made a stop at Books-a-million inside Mall del Norte on Saturday, July 14 to assist the South Texas Food Bank (STFB) in raising funds. Pictured are Diana Vela, Vanessa Vela, Mary Benavides, Raul Castro as Batman, Dani Jimenez, and Rey Ortiz.

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Super hero aids the hungry

CEAP grant awarded to CAA Webb County Precinct Two Commissioner Rosaura “Wawi� Tijernia, Judge Danny Valdez, and representatives from the Community Action Agency held a press conference on Monday, July 16 to announce details on the $1 million dollar Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) grant awarded to the agency.



Annual Sister Cities festival: a resounding success By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

A&M International University Fine and Performing Arts students as well as independent dance studios. For the second consecutive year, the LISCF hosted a Spurs Fan Experience and Caravan that exhibited the team’s four NBA championship trophies. Members of the Silver Dancers team accompanied the exhibit. After the close of the event on Saturday evening, gobernadores, presidentes municipal, and members of city councils were present for the signing of a sister city agreement between Laredo and cities within Central America, La Cruz de Buena Casta, and Costa Rica.  The Festival has been known as the premier venue for signing such agreements in the past.  The festival has grown from 48 vendors its first year at the Laredo Civic Center to nearly 200 now in its tenth year. Including this year, the

event has set up 1,153 booths, hosted 100 delegations and an estimated 2,200 delegates over the 10 year history of the Festival. They have come from Mexico, Spain, China, Taiwan, Canada, El Salvador, and New Zealand. Given the importance of LISCF and the opportunities for exposure in the U.S. market, representatives of many Mexican sister cities attended in full regalia and traditional clothing. Present were exhibitors and government leaders from Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Estado de Mexico, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas. For more information on Sister Cities festival call the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau at (956) 795-2200 or visit their website at www.visitlaredo.com. ◆

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

“The event attracted more than 14,000 attendees last year over the three days; we are really looking to set a new attendance record and make it 18,000 or more,” said Mayor Raul G. Salinas at the July 20 ribbon cutting ceremony for the Laredo International Sister Cities Festival (LISCF) at the Laredo Energy Arena (LEA). Mexico was well represented with over 90 booths from 46 cities and 13 different states. Vendors for the threeday event on arena floor and offered exotic items such as artisan produced and hand crafted furniture, jewelry and clothing. Benjamin Herrejon, a merchant for Mi Mexico, said “We returned this year because this is a great opportunity to display our crafts and expose

them to more individuals from this side of the border.” Carne seca, tortillas, and all types of candy were among the items available for sampling for LISCF attendees. Silk rebozos, linen gowns, leather goods, wool sarapes and a variety of other clothes and accessories were for sale at the LEA. New to this year’s event was an expanded line up of stage performances and first-time sponsors. Laredo Community College (LCC) was a platinum-level sponsor of the festival. They were stationed at a booth to provide to reach out to the exhibitors as well as the attendees.  Stage performances this year included entertainment from visiting vocalists and the ballet folklorico from San Miguel el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico. Local performances included several dance presentations by the Texas

Mí Mexico was a vendor at the tenth annual Laredo International Sister Cities to display and promote an array of handcrafted dolls. W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

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Election of Peña Nieto fuels more uncertainty in Mexico By SILKE JASSO LareDOS Contributor “Peña Nieto is the best example of the marketing of political ignorance,” said Gabriela Morales, a 23-year-old senior at the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey. “The only thing that we can ‘admire’ of him is his ingenuity in a campaign he began years ago, gaining his popularity before he announced his candidacy. Yet, meanwhile, Mexican democracy is in mourning because we question whether or not he is capable of making a change. Did he really win the votes or not? This political ignorance has left the Mexican people with a President who will make a soap opera of his administration, ” said Morales.

Morales believes as many Mexicans do, that Mexico’s history was indelibly changed by the July 1, 2012 election of PRI-ista Peña Nieto, the 45-year-old former governor of the State of Mexico and the husband of telenovela star Angelica Rivera. Young and old alike, mindful of the PRI’s legacy of oppression and control, voted against Peña Nieto. Opponents Andres Manuel López Obrador (PRD, 31.59%) and Josefina Vásquez Mota (PAN, 25.41%), consistently trailed far behind Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto proclaimed himself President of the Republic at 11:40 p.m. on July 1 in a speech in which he averred that Mexico had “won.” Vowing to alleviate the poverty that

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affects half of the Mexican populace, Peña Nieto countered speculation that the PRI will likely seek deals and strike a truce with drug cartels. The incertidumbre, the uncertainty of what will happen in the months to come, weighs heavily on the minds of most Mexicans. During his three-month campaign, Peña Nieto carefully avoided the topic of the cartel violence that has changed the character of Mexico – the U.S.’ largest trading partner for both legal and contraband goods. With the PRI driving the future and the fate of Mexico once again, the burning question is, “Will the violence continue or worse yet, escalate?” The Mexican Ministry of Public Security estimated that close to 18,000 students, housewives, workers, and members of the National Generation Movement marched from the Statue of the Angel of Independence to the Zocalo in Mexico City to protest Peña Nieto’s win, accusing his party of buying votes and paying TV networks for support. Citizens were outraged to discover the PRI was handing out pre-paid gift cards, groceries, and money to voters before the elections. Assembled groups of Peña Nieto voters were herded onto trucks and other conveyances to arrive, pencil in hand, to vote for him. The protesters shouted “Mexico without PRI;” “Out Peña, Peña out;” “Mexico voted and Peña did not win;” “Mexico didn’t win, corruption did;” “How much did it cost to become president?” Posters in French, German, and Japanese warned that the world watched the election outcome carefully. “Mexicans are over their heads with the insecurity, violence, poverty, unemployment, and well, I can go on,” said a 20 year-old TAMIU sophomore who did not wish to be identified. “I get it, I do. I’ve lived with it my whole life. It’s sad to see that people have the nerve to pay for our freedom of speech. There is no citizenship without

freedom of speech. Mexican minds were changed with the 100 pesos the PRI gave voters to spend at Soriana. They asked us to vote with pencil, not pen. Pencil. Only a naive person would do that. What does that say about us?” said the student. Weeks before the election, a studentled movement called, Soy 132, spread throughout Mexico, creating on-line polls and organizing protest walks against Peña Nieto’s connections with the Televisa network. Soy 132 was led by students from different private and public colleges and was organized by the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico. The movement had its origins at the Iberomerican University at Lomas de Santa Fe, Mexico. Social media like You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter spread the core message, “Por una democracia

autentica, Yo soy 132/ For an authentic democracy, I am 132.” Yo soy 132’s main goal was to have a clean election without fraud, media bribes, and paid voters. The protesters marched to show the candidate that people were watching and that there were witnesses to the fraud and bribery. “The worst part is that we can’t do anything about it. Some of us can’t just leave our country, pack up, and become U.S. Citizens. Yes he’s young, handsome, and has a beautiful wife, but that doesn’t mean he’s capable of being a good President. Not with all he’s done. The reputation of the PRI has just gotten worse, with all the agreements with the drug cartels allowing them to continue with their disgusting acts. He’s just not the right man for the job. What will be left for me and my family? ” added the TAMIU student. ◆


Mrs. Sandra Montes and Mrs. Veronica Juarez are pictured with kiddos from LCC South’s Camilo Prada Child Development Center Science Camp that took place from July 9 to July 20. The science and nature summer camp provided children with nature walks, leaf collecting, and other hands-on experiments.


Evelyn Perez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Summer camp fun

SOS Attendees Yolanda Guerra, Erika Guerra, Ana Marchan, and Tamarins Marchan did their part in aiding the community by donating school supplies at the Supply Our Students concert on Tuesday, July 17.

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HUD grant allows LLT to expand parking, upgrade lighting; 2012-13 season opens this fall


ith a 100-year-old legacy that reflects the history of the community, the Laredo Little Theater (LLT) seeks to expand in all capacities. LareDOS recently visited with Oscar O. Peña, the local trial attorney who currently serves as president of the LLT board. LLT was awarded a $200,000 Housing and Urban Development grant under the tenure of Peña’s predecessor, José “Chema” Guevara, in conjunction with efforts from Congressman Henry Cuellar. The funds come from the 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act. Peña said, “In my recent memory, I cannot recall getting a grant of this magnitude in the past. Given the type of grant, we specified beforehand the allocation of the funds to improve several aspects of the theatre.” “The first aspect we are working on is the LLT’s parking situation. We are currently in the process of doubling our parking capacity and is 40 percent complete at this time. In the past, people have had to park in the street, and we’ve had to rely on the city to allow our patrons to use the parking lot of the Laredo Police Department across the street,” he added. The cost for doubling the parking is approximately $95,000. The remaining funds are to be used to replace antiquated stage lighting that dates back to the 1960s. “We are going to upgrade to a modern system that should cover the whole stage by the end of August. It will be easily controlled and safer to handle,” said Peña, adding, “If we have money left over, then our next focus will be improving seating and storage.”

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS


Oscar Peña LLT is not just a theater venue. It is in fact a theater group building relationships with local actors, directors, and writers. An example is the relationship the LLT has with Teatro Chicano de Laredo which is sponsored by Laredo Community College. The workshop of local writers has produced plays every October for the last three years. “There is something really special about that show. The level of the audience’s emotional involvement is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, perhaps because the audience goes in knowing that what is being portrayed on stage is an aspect of their community and lives,” Peña said. Something new for the LLT is a set 2012-2013 season, in which Teatro Chicano will put on the first show. Peña said, “It has been roughly four or five years since we’ve put together a real season. We are moving toward becoming a theatre company.” Peña said the LLT’s current in-house director is Laurence Wensel, who has extensive theatre and drama experience. He recently directed Extremities for LCC’s summer stock production. The LLT’s season will include Dangerous Liaisons, Tuna Christmas, Jam for George, Snow White, and Alice’s

Adventures Underground. Peña said, “All of these shows will be open for anyone to come audition. Part of LLT’s mission is being inclusive. We have a place for anyone interested in the theatre in one capacity or another.” According to Peña LLT, unlike the Laredo Theatre Guild International and other local theatre groups, is less formal. “Our productions are a bit more intimate. They’re not quite as grand. Our niche is smaller intimate neighborhood theatre. One of the things that set us apart is our commitment to showcase local writers, apart from us being the only local theatre company with its own venue,” said Peña. Given the difficult economic times, LLT continues to provide members of

the community with low ticket prices, and an alternative to the movie theatre. Ticket prices range from $5 to $10. “We want to raise money, using this third quarter for our upcoming season. We will be selling season ticket packets. Funds raised will be used to improve the interior of the theatre. Our plans are to continue to have seasons to increase audience capacity, audience development, and the capacity to put on bigger shows and musicals,” said Peña He added, “We want to increase awareness of theatre in town. We want people to know we are here and we are growing, and I think we are well on our way to people recognizing we are not just a venue but an established theatre company.” ◆



The Ethics Ordinance: It’s our job to see it through By MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Publisher


ongratulations don’t seem to be in order in 2012 for the Laredo City Council’s July 16 move forward with the Ethics Ordinance the citizenry mandated in 2006 and that a hard-working handful of Laredoans developed and delivered in 2009 as appointees to an ad hoc ethics committee. No, no congrats — particularly in light of the decisions of Council members Johnny Rendon, Juan Narvaez, and Esteban Rangel to be absent from the meeting at which the council voted on so weighted an issue. Committed to a document that would have City business conducted in full light and without the specter of quid pro quo conflicts of interest, members of the ad hoc committee worked from 2007 to 2009 at 80 meetings that took them from their families, businesses, and personal lives. They delivered a finished product in September 2009, and for nearly three years the document languished at City Hall. An odd way to say thank you, if not a poke in the eye. It’s not difficult to guess at the reasons for the dawdle, the stall, the non-rush to put an ordinance in place that would undoubtedly sharply curtail a lot of greased wheel gift-getting from entities and individuals who conduct business with the City and who need Council members and city administrators to move their business along council agendas. When the getting is so good, what’s the rush to accept the groundwork that would lead to an Ethics Ordinance and Commission that could put the brakes on the gifting of South Padre condo rentals, being jetted on vacations, trips to other countries, tickets to sporting events, travel and second row seats to high dollar boxing events, and perhaps touring the Napa wine country in guise of an official city business trip to look at


buses for El Metro? Who would want to fly coach when the personal jet of a local mogul with whom the City does business could fly you there in luxury? Why suffer the indignity of wearing a Timex when a Rolex is a more desirable timepiece? Why pay the rent on a condo when there is an engineering firm ready to offer it gratis? The questions answer themselves – it is better to receive, especially if all you had to do was give away the vote with which the taxpayers entrusted you to act prudently on their behalf. Under an ethics ordinance, perks such as these would have to be reported. The Elephant in the Room Much of the lavish giving, including campaign contributions, reportedly comes principally from one businessman who has much at stake in Laredo, though it is said that others who conduct business with the City of Laredo – engineers, builders, suppliers of goods – also come forth with considerations. To be clear, it is understood this also happens in Webb County government and on school boards, too. There are some who speculate that had the ethics ordinance been in place, we would not be footing the bill for a $23 million baseball stadium that provides 200 part time jobs; as there are some who believe that perhaps the Council might not have voted to award to a private firm the operation of the cold storage inspection facilities at the World Trade and Colombia Solidarity bridges imports lots. While City Manager Carlos Villarreal admonished the five council members present at the July 16 meeting to think carefully about the ethics ordinance and how it would affect them with scrutiny over their finances and those of their family members, I thought of the recent indictment and arraignment of former Laredo International Airport operations manager Humberto Garza and his alleged longtime scheme to contract and lease to himself some of the city’s airport

properties through dummy entities and corporations. Garza was indicted by a 111th District Court Grand Jury on May 9, 2012 for misuse of information and misapplication of fiduciary property. In his capacity as operations manager, Garza was privy to information not made public about lease opportunities, negotiation tactics, and potential lessors’ interests and needs in city property. How could his alleged scheme have gone undetected for 14 years, and how could it have slipped past his direct supervisor? Is it not an ethics violation not to report an unethical act? This case also made me think about the untold benefits of having inside information for private gain, whether you came across the information at your City job or whether you got an inside pitazo so you could avail yourself of property in close proximity to airport land the City is about to lease to the federal government. And don’t forget the taxpayer-funded United Water debacle (2002-2005). The selling and destruction of this city’s perfectly functioning water utilities department to a private entity did not come about because there were sound ideas on the table. It’s what reportedly happened under the table – cashola, golf junkets, and other considerations – that made the deal that soured and resulted in the high cost of water the taxpaying citizenry lives with today. Coyote eyeballs the ad hoc henhouse Is it just me or does it seem a horrible irony the designated City staff liaison for the ethics ad hoc committee was none other City Secretary Gustavo Guevara, whose ethics as a city administrator were called to question in a 2008 civil sexual harassment lawsuit in which a jury found for the plaintiff, former deputy city secretary Hilda Negrete. The trial presented a finely focused characterization of Guevara as a sexual harasser who engaged in retaliation, cre-

ated a hostile work environment, and who used city computers to share pornographic images with the then-fire chief and chief of police of the City of Laredo. Though the City Secretary’s website cites the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) requirements for notice and procedure for posting meetings and agendas, many of Guevara’s posted notices for the ad hoc committee meetings often did not adhere to that procedure. Some of the notices post an agenda that simply calls the meeting to order, amends the proposed Code of Ethics, and adjourns. In many instances there is no specificity for what is being amended in the code or being voted upon. Likewise the minutes of the ethics ad hoc committee meetings, kept by the City Secretary’s office, do not consistently comply with Roberts Rules of Order or TOMA rules. The minutes, which were often left up to the committee members, do not consistently record the particular subject matter of a vote or the names of those who voted in the affirmative and negative. Though each meeting of the ad hoc committee was reportedly audio recorded from the first meeting to the last, the City Secretary responded to LareDOS, “We will have to go to the warehouse to see if we have tapes as we believe that tape recordings were done only for the first few meetings and then they went with minutes and direct typing of changes on the computer with the members viewing the computer projection screen.” Guevara is the City’s designated Records Management Officer per §2-129 of the Code of Ordinances. Thank you, Mr. San Miguel While I won’t congratulate Council member Charlie San Miguel for bringing the work of the ad hoc ethics committee before a less-than-enthusiastic Council and administration, I will thank him for doing so, for getting it out in the Continued on page 39


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M ailbox L

etters to the publisher

Dear Editor,

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

You certainly demonstrated your possession of a lot of courage in presenting your lead story last month on the transgender dilemma. Likewise, the interviewee demonstrated her great courage in allowing her story to be unveiled. Probably like most Americans, I was rather ignorant of that particular problem. As your story revealed, the problem must be a terrificly difficult journey toward resolution. Again, I applaud the honesties and courages that you and your interviewee have demonstrated respectively. Lem Londos Railsback

Meet and greet The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was in town from June 28 to July 1 at the Laredo Energy Arena. Prior to the show audience members had a meet and greet session with the performers.

Dear Editor In Ted, the movie, using a talking, stuffed animal as a medium to promote racial inequality does not make the message of “us and them,” unreal or a fairy tale. If you’d like a hint, a taste of what it feels like to be singled out, discriminated against because you are a Mexican, see this piece of crap in a theater full of white people. When you hear the roar of laughter as the ass-backwards, drug addict teddy bear say, “And No Mexicans!” you will be the only one not laughing. There is also gay and Jew bashing, but it’s not done as blatantly as the “And No Mexicans!” comment. Casting Mark Wahlberg to come across as a 30-something, pot smoking, trying to get it together dude, who still has his teddy bear fails ‘cause the dude looks like an old, cradle robber with Mila Kunis. Now that’s funny. This trash is an insult to legacy of Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King. It is a slap in the face of the people of Aztec blood. La Raza should protest and boycott this garbage. And I’m not laughing, ese.

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Con sabor, Jesse G. Herrera, poet

It’s where good friends meet Downtown’s Jarvis Plaza comes alive every third Saturday of the month with the Farmers Market. The ample shade of the old oaks provides comfort from the summer sun and the market offers a variety of organically raised produce and delicious baked goods.

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LITE’s beat. plays through August 5


he production of beat. a play on words by the Laredo Institute for Theatrical Educations (LITE) continues through August 5 at the Laredo Center for the Arts in historic downtown Laredo. beat. examines the life of Allen Ginsberg, one of this country’s most controversial poets, and the famous First Amendment obscenity trial surrounding the publication of one of his most celebrated works,

in a way that I haven’t seen done in Laredo before.” Orduña said the production’s goals are both to entertain and educate. “The show’s underlying theme deals with our right for freedom of expression. This is something that continues to be an issue, not as drastic in art as we have seen in the past, but currently in our criticism of government and politics,” he said, adding, “Movements like Occupy Wall Street and the protesters associated with it have in some instances been labeled terrorists because they have voiced their opinions. How is this any different than the McCarthyism of the 1950s?” Orduña’s sister Julia, also a poet,

is the assistant director of the production. She characterized the play by Kelly Groves as a fast-paced docu-drama. Robert Batey portrays Ginsberg. Six other actors portray multiple roles in the production. Richard Resendez plays Jack Kerouac, Russel Woods, and David Kirk. John S. Perez takes the roles of Neal Cassady and Luther Nichols. Mark Garner channels the roles of Lucien Carr, Officer Hanrahan, and Eugene Ginsberg. John “Nam” Pérez plays Jake Ehrlich, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Huncke. Oscar O. Peña plays Ralph McIntosh, Louis Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. Marco Gonzalez plays Carl Solomon, Naomi Ginsberg, Gregory

Corso, and Tristan Tzara. “Each actor plays multiple roles throughout the show and they’ve managed to become the different personas they portray. It’s energetic, insightful, moving, and funny, and it has a message. The actors carry all this throughout,” Orduña said. beat. opened July 26 and has continued with performances on July 27 and 28 There is a matinee on July 29 at 3:00 p.m. Subsequent performances continue August 3, 4, and 5. General admission is $10.00 and tables for six cost $200.00. For information or for tickets, call the Laredo Center For the Arts at (956) 725-1715. All major credit cards accepted. ◆

“Howl.” “The play will really push what Laredo audiences are used to, not just because of the subject matter, which has been heavily documented since the time of the beat generation, but because of the format of the play and the way we are presenting it,” said actor and slam poet Chibbi Orduña, who is directing beat. “We’ve really tried to blur the lines between stage, actor, and audience. We’re immersing the viewers in the show, and telling a story W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Courtesy Photo

Julia and M. Roberto “Chibbi” Orduña

The cast of beat. a play on words – M. Roberto “Chibbi” Orduña, Mark Garner, Marco Gonzalez, Robert Batey, Oscar O. Peña, Richard Resendez, and John S. Pérez. LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I


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Mexico’s youth movement forges ahead By KENT PATERSON Frontera Norte Sur


he impact of a social movement can often be gauged not only by the societal reception it gets, but also by the reaction it engenders. And Mexico’s “ I am 132 Movement” is no exception. Born only several weeks ago as a Mexico City protest of private university students against the media imposition of presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Green Party (PVEM) electoral alliance, the movement has since spread to large cities and small towns across the country. In the Pacific coast tourist town of Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, an estimated 250 young people and their supporters took to the streets earlier this month to demonstrate against Peña Nieto and to call for the democratization of an electronic media dominated by two networks, Televisa and TV Azteça. “This was the first march that was done by young people in the history of the municipality,” Alondra García, 132 organizer, told Frontera NorteSur. Acknowledging that members of antiPeña political parties participated in the action, García nonetheless rejected charges by Peña’s PRI party that the 132 Movement is a front for rival candidates, especially the Progressive Movement’s Andres López Obrador. “We are non-partisan and receive all who come,” García said, adding that even dissatisfied members of the PRI have expressed support for the 132 effort. “Everyone is welcome,” she said, “and everyone from kids to older people has come out.” Yet less than a week before the July 1 elections, the heat was turned up in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on the 132 Movement. Media accounts report aggressions and/or cases of alleged


police harassment against 132ers in the states of Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Morelos, Michoacan, and Guerrero. According to García and fellow activist Victor Ruiz, a group of 40 or so young PRI members in Zihuatanejo recently held their own demonstration claiming to be 132ers that supported Peña Nieto. In the central city of Aguascalientes and other places, counter-132 groups sponsored by the PRI similarly sprang up in the days leading up to the elections. A video of a former 132 member spilling the beans on the López Obrador camp’s supposed hidden hand behind the movement recently received prominent play on the same television channels that are the targets of Mexico’s newest social movement. Despite the opposition, the 132 Movement forged ahead and can even claim credit for unprecedented developments in the way political messaging has been delivered this election year. Perhaps the movement’s greatest single success so far was the Internet transmission of a third, previously unscheduled presidential debate on June 19. Inspired and organized by the 132 Movement, the event was a flowing interaction between three of the four presidential contenders and young questioners who pressed the candidates on issues that got short-shrift in the campaign such as the future of Mexico’s indigenous peoples and their languages. Candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota of the The National Action Party (PAN) used the occasion to announce her choices for a possible presidential cabinet, revealing the names to the Internet audience even before telling the nominees themselves. A striking visual aspect of the production set was the empty chair reserved for Peña Nieto, who declined an invitation to attend on the grounds that the sponsors were not impartial.

Technical glitches interrupted the first minutes of the debate, reportedly because of an over-saturation of the website, but the event went forward both in cyberspace and in public plazas where 132ers set up large screens for passersby to view. Flanking a screen in downtown Aguascalientes, a large information booth was visited by steady groups of residents who looked over photos of government atrocities like the 1995 Aguas Blancas massacre and read critical quotes about Peña Nieto from posters of intellectuals and journalists including the late Carlos Fuentes, Enrique Krauze, Lydia Cacho, and Denise Dresser. Declining to give their names, an older man and a younger couple said the pictures accurately reflected the national reality. In a comparitive display, a map depicting areas governed by PRI local and state administrations was placed next to one of territories under control of drug traffickers along with the question: “Do you see a difference?” Alejandro Hernandez, a small businessman, said the idea of transmitting an important political event in the street was a “beautiful idea,” as well as an example of modern technological innovation. But disagreeing with the 132ers’ stance on Peña Nieto, the young man said he understood why the candidate did not participate in the debate. Concerned about tax policy and burdensome paperwork, Hernandez said he planned to vote for the PRI’s man. Aguascalientes activists quickly moved from publicly transmitting the presidential debate to holding forums featuring local candidates for the federal Congress. An invitation to the PRI to present its candidates on June 20 was ignored, but the PAN turned out for a forum at a downtown restaurant the next day. PAN candidates including former

Aguascalientes Mayor Martin Orozco promoted free market and right-towork reforms, urged continued action against organized crime, called for the eradication of poverty and upheld prolife principles. Luis Manuel Medina, candidate for the lower house of the Mexican Congress, addressed the critical issue of water use and conservation. According to Medina, agricultural producers near the town of Calvillo, Aguascalientes, were now pumping groundwater from below 1,500 of the surface. “We can’t be overexploiting water, because it will come to an end,” he warned. Tere Jimenez, a 28-year-old running for another local seat in the Congress’ lower house, praised the new youth activism. In her presentation, Jimenez outlined how she would deal with poverty and drug addiction. “I want to transform Mexico into a place where differences in ideas are part of a different Mexico,” Jimenez added. “Mexico has to change, and we can’t return to a corrupt past in which it is like being in prison.” Like the June 19 Internet debate, the Aguascalientes forum was a groundbreaking one in that it went beyond the typical uni-directional political messages delivered to a passive public and instead involved an interactive exchange with an aware citzenry assembled outside the structures of the political party system. Following the candidate’s prepared presentations, youthful members of the audience of several dozen people challenged the PAN on matters including the high tuition rates at the local university, prison and judicial reform, gender equality, same-sex marriage, and gay adoption. Forum co-organizer David Juarez detected lines of division between the PAN and followers of his movement, Continued on Next page LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I

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 Continued FROM page 19 but gave the conservative party credit for making their program public and answering questions. “The party platform was presented, but it was contrary to principles of equality and sustainability,” Juarez said. “They back a minimal state, and a state that practically does not intervene while leaving everything up to the private sector.” In an incredibly short period of time, the 132 Movement has carved out a significant position in national political life by directly confronting a formerly, semi-taboo issue: who controls the flow of information, and to what ends. The movement’s contention that powerful political figures, the state and private media interests are virtually interlocked is supported by a recent study conducted by the Citizen Committee for Electoral Observation. According to a story about the group’s findings by the Proceso news service, 18 Congressional candidates have professional or family ties to Televisa, TV Azteca, the National Chamber of the

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Telecommunications Cable Industry, and other media interests. The candidates studied included members of the PRI, PVEM (Green) and Citizen Movement parties. In contemporary Mexico, the power of the boob tube cannot be underestimated. Based on the citizens’ committee survey, Mexican academic and political analyst Lorenzo Meyer noted in a recent column that 80 percent of 3,480 respondents told interviewers that they got their news from television, while only 7 percent relied on radio and even less, 6 percent, on print media. For 132 activists Alondra García and Victor Ruiz, issues of media access, official manipulation, and freedom of expression are both deeply political and personal questions. As young journalists in a conflictive part of Mexico, García and Ruiz both said there were many stories they cannot touch without facing extremely grave consequences. Last year, García recalled going to the state capital of Chilpancingo to cover the formation of a state truth

commission dedicated to clarifying the fates of more than 600 people who were forcibly disappeared by government security forces in Guerrero during the Dirty War of the 1970s. Shortly afterward, García’s supervisor received an anonymous message warning the publication to back off from the story. The students and young professionals making up the 132 Movement encounter other frustrations, Ruiz added. “We pay for years of college, leave and then there is no work,” Ruiz said. The journalism school graduate identified the spirit and goals of his movement with the long struggle of the Chilean students for affordable education, Occupy Wall Street, and other manifestations of the new global youth rebellion. “(132) has been called the Mexican spring,” Ruiz said. “It was late in arriving, but it came and it will be hard to get rid of.” 132 Movement activists plan to keep demanding government transparency, clean elections, and media democracy after the July 1 elections. In

the few days prior to the voting, they were in the streets in Mexico City and elsewhere protesting against Televisa, the Federal Electoral Institute, and political manipulation and corruption in general. Meanwhile, new messages that may or may not be the work of people influenced by the 132 Movement have begun appearing in downtown Zihuatanejo. Signed by “Street Tweet,” the short but poignant messages are handwritten on large sheets of brown paper and posted in visible public spots. Positioned across from a new bar that blasts songs speaking of gunslingers and grenade launchers and just down the street from the naval base where masked marines leave on patrol, one of the messages reads: “If there were more guitars than arms, there would be more musicians than soldiers.” Another street tweet reads: “Never doubt that a small group of committed and thinking citizens can change the world. In fact, they are the only ones who have ever done it.” ◆


ANNUAL MEETING of the Rio Grande International Study Center JUNE 30, 2012 • First United Methodist Church

Emily Sanchez, Dave Hunt

Sister María Luisa Vera, Erica Buentello

San Juanita Martinez, Enrique De La Garza

Lic. Roberto Ramos and RGISC President Victor Oliveros

Viky García, Rosie and Sophie Wisner


Sandra Enright, Magda Alexander, and Veronica Vela

Alexi Iadapaolo, Diana García, Emily Altgelt

Dr. Lynne Manganaro, Dr. Tom Vaughan, Lem Londos Railsback

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You can go home again – if you can find a flight to take you there



have heard the expression “You can’t go home again” to describe the circumstances in which people leave their families or native cities to branch out into the larger world and then in later life attempt a return to their origins. I recalled a visitor to my 7th grade geography class who described her travels all over the world. Her contention was that her native Rhode Island compared favorably with all the cities she had visited. She tried to convince the skeptical students that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. I never expected my own good faith acceptance of the quality of Rhode Island life to be tested, but it did evolve that I was eventually called to a more nomadic and travel-oriented life than I could have ever predicted or wanted. That resulted into developing considerable perspective for comparing people and places. During the last 10 years I have visited such places as Calgary, Vancouver, Sonoma, CA, various cities in the state of Florida, various cities along the coast of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom, Vienna, Austria, and Budapest, Hungary. Along with that experience, I have been called to live for one year in Houston, two years in Janesville, WI, and six and a half years in Laredo. This year I was invited to visit my cousin at her home in West Greenwich,

Boat House, Westerly

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Rhode Island. I was immediately reminded of one reason for my previous hesitation when I tried to book by air. It seems that several Texas airlines offer nonstop service from Dallas or Houston to England, Brussels, or Amsterdam but there is no airline that offers less than three planes to get to the state of Rhode Island. Putting that inconvenience aside, I was met by my gracious cousin at T. F. Green International Airport in Warwick, RI. The airport is not located in Providence as the official ticketing agents indicate – in fact I remember meeting a couple wandering around the streets of Providence one day desperately looking for an airline. I hated to be the one to tell them that it was 10 or so miles further south down Route 95. As my cousin drove us along the highway towards her home in West Greenwich, I was captivated by the vegetation –­­ tall fir trees, numerous varieties of deciduous trees, and plenty of grass and flowers. I couldn’t even see the sky, and I felt that I had just been set down in the middle of a terrarium. Visible growth in housing and industrial venues were well concealed and offset by the greenery and vegetation that emitted a fresh, lush smell. The vista was interrupted only by spot sightings of gorgeous blue lakes. Not exactly your typical Texas IH35 experience. The temperatures in early July were typically hot, often only 5 to 10 degrees cooler than Laredo, but it was the humidity that slowed us down. But what about the people? I have

East Greenwich Yacht Club

often heard that Rhode Islanders were considered cold, maybe unfriendly. But my cousin, gregarious soul that she is, introduced me to her neighbors, fellow church members, and campground associates, most of whom greeted me with a warm hug. Wait a minute, didn’t I just leave Laredo? I mentioned to my cousin that I kept losing track of where I was. I kept thinking I was home. She answered, “There is an emergency medical facility nearby.” I did notice that many people I met in Rhode Island liked to engage in repartee, or banter. Overall, that type of exchange comes across as good natured. However, I couldn’t help thinking that it could be a considerably dicey method of communication if undertaken with antisocial or alcoholically challenged individuals. Some of the local women, I noticed, evoked a bossy demeanor – not the sort of laid back, diplomatic socialization I have become accustomed to in South Texas. To push the limits of Rhode Island hospitability, we decided to visit our former neighborhood in Cumberland. We checked the exterior of our former home and were pleased to see that it had been very well maintained, but hardly recognizable as the one in which we had spent most of our married lives. We made a spontaneous decision to knock on the door of our former next door neighbors, not knowing if they were still living there or if they were dead or alive. The door sprung open, and the couple were

Tower, Narragansett, RI

standing there with arms wide open and big smiles. More hugs and kisses in Rhode Island? No wonder I kept getting confused as to where I was. We spent the morning sharing breakfast and plenty of gossip. We managed visits with other family and friends during the week, which matched our initial convivial meetings. Our hosts said, “It seems like you never left!” But my cousin, our primary hostess, wanted to incorporate us into her circle of dear campground buddies. Campground buddies? Hey, I’m from the big city of Laredo. What do I know about sitting around a fire telling stories and burning (umm - toasting) s’mores? But we were lured by the mention of a huge lakeside Fourth of July fireworks display. So there we were, freezing, sitting on a boat dock watching a 1 ½ hour private fireworks display. And, of course, we got to meet the families of the families I had just met the day before. Please! No more kisses! As far as ocean beaches are concerned, I am providing photos which rest my case. Rhode Island is not called “the Ocean State” for nothing! As we deplaned in Laredo, my husband said, “I never thought I would say this, but I am very glad to be back home in Laredo.” Unbeknownst though it may be, the City of Laredo has probably never received a higher compliment! As for me, I am delighted to acknowledge that I have two welcoming home states. ◆

Oakland Beach


Folio Title Goes Here

VITA Volunteers enrich taxpayers’ pockets


olunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers offer free help for taxpayers who earn an annual income of $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their income tax returns. Members of the community may become VITA volunteers if they have completed a 16-hour, week–long training to become an IRS-certified volunteer in order to provide free, basic income tax return preparations for others in the community. Christina Rodriguez, a caseworker for Catholic Social Services (CSS), volunteered with VITA for the first time this past year and she recently shared her experiences. “Being the first year, it was quite an experience. At first I was nervous because it involved the IRS. There was a lot of pressure in that a minimal mistake could have a huge impact,” Rodriguez said, adding, “Like any newly acquired skill you must keep practicing in order to feel more comfortable and confident in what you are doing,” she said. “As a VITA volunteer your responsibilities include ensuring the people have the proper documentation that they had marked on their intake form, as well as the correct information on their W2 forms. I also informed taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or Disabled,” she continued. Rodriguez said that volunteering for VITA was “an escape from the day-to-day routine and work. The CSS hosted two of the VITA sites, so I was already familiar with the work the organization would do,” said Ro-


driguez, adding, “It was a pleasant experience, especially with all the support from the trainers. They provided an excellent training and were always available to answer any questions. Overall this was a very interesting learning experience.” Francisco Ramirez, owner of A+ Tutoring Center and president of Gateway Rotary of Laredo, first volunteered with VITA, seven years ago, while working on his degree at TAMIU. “I had always done tax returns for my close family and friends. I wanted to learn more, so I volunteered with VITA. Several years later I decided to do it again because of the constant changes to the laws. I figured who better to learn from than the IRS,” he said, adding, “A common occurrence is people being unaware about what dependents they may claim. A lot of people are misled or misinformed about how to file their taxes.” The experienced volunteer said, “We get people sent to us directly from the IRS to correct errors that should not have been made in the first place. A lot of people don’t know that if they’re married, they must file as such and should not file alone in hopes of receiving a larger refund. This type of fraud will eventually catch up to them,” cautioned Ramirez. Because they are IRS trained, VITA volunteers are aware of the proper protocol for filing, which leaves room for fewer errors. “Since our services are free, that’s money that VITA ensures you keep in your pockets for your expenses. I think in general people pay a lot more than they should. I see them being taken advantage of – some made to pay between $300 or $500 for a filing service not even worth that much,” said Ramirez. Volunteer VITA Coordinator David Morales came on board three

years ago and has found the work rewarding. “I’ve enjoyed helping and teaching people in the process how to manage their records. As a teenager, I worked with H&R Block, and I didn’t like how they charged so much,” Morales said, adding, “I learned about how VITA is economical and promotes community growth by bringing or retaining money in its customer’s pockets, which in turn benefits the community.” “VITA hosts Super Saturdays at the Laredo Public Library, in which volunteers are on-hand to prepare tax returns. I happened to tell one client at the end of the day they’d be receiving a $5,500 refund, to which he responded in shock as he always previously had to pay the IRS. I explained that given his new marital status and his ability to claim his stepdaughter

as a dependent, he was now entitled to a refund,” said Morales. VITA continues to search for volunteers from the months of January to October who are interested in learning to prepare tax returns. “It’s a learning experience and it’s a skill that it doesn’t hurt to have. If you are a person who likes interacting with people and giving back to the community, then you should volunteer,” said Rodriguez Ramirez added, “I think it is empowering to be able to help people with something that everyone needs to do every year no matter what. The tax laws are very complicated, but we are well trained, which gives us the ability to help out our community.” For more information on the VITA program or on becoming a volunteer please call (956) 320-0016. ◆

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS


VITA volunteers Francisco Ramirez and Christina Rodriguez. LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I




“Pureza de Sangre” exhibit to feature history of Crypto Jews in new Spain

he Webb County Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with Half Spoon, LLC will present a very unique exhibit for this region opening on Friday, August 17 at 6 p.m. at the Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum, 810 Zaragoza St. “Pureza de Sangre” features a history of the influence of crypto Jews in this region as illustrated by 17th century genealogies of families living in New Spain (Mexico) at the time. The family trees were proof of pure Christian blood-lines during a time when the Spanish Inquisition sought to ban Jews from territories controlled by the Spanish crown. “Crypto Jew” is a term

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used to describe those of the Jewish faith who, in the face of unrelenting and systematic oppression and

finally expulsion, chose to convert to Cat holicism while secretly ma i nta i n i ng their Jewish faith and culture. The exhibit will feature hand-painted books and documents curated by Half Spoon LLC and shown for the first time in the U.S. In addition, a presentation in

Spanish by the exhibit curator, Armando Ceballos, will take place that evening. Also, Richard G. Santos, former archivist of Bexar County and author of Silent Heritage, will speak on the influence of crypto Jews in northern Mexico and South Texas. Mr. Santos’ latest book, Cuisine of the Camino Real de los Tejas includes a brief history and recipes of traditional Sephardic dishes found in our area. The exhibit and speakers are cosponsored by Congregation Agudas Achim and the Les Norton Family. For more information, contact the Webb County Heritage Foundation at www.webbheritage.org or (956)727-0977. ◆


Pictured are the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey’s Ringlettes Paula Nacsimento, Clarissa Oliveria, and Maiara Cristyne who performed some spectacular dance numbers.


Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

The Ringlettes

Pursuing the arts Deaniella Salivar is photographed painting at the Laredo Center for the Arts summer art classes.


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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Portia, the evil stepsister

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Alex Lopez, who portrayed Portia, one of Cinderella’s two mean stepsisters, is pictured with Emily Altgelt after the July 12 opening night performance.

New vendor at Farmers Market Mary Cantu, a prolific backyard gardener offered grapes, limes, and fresh herbs from her home garden.

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SUBSCRIBE meg@laredosnews.com

The best kept secret in Laredo

1, 2 and 3 bedroom floorplans available. Prices starting at $725 Town houses and corporate suites also available For more information, please contact: www.carmelapts.com Carmel Apartments Office Hours 830 Fasken Blvd. Laredo, Texas M-F 8:30-5:30 956.753.6500, 956.753.6502 fax Sat. 10:00-5:00

Sit back, relax, and welcome home W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I


Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Literacy Event hosts Puppet Show

Family time

On Saturday, July 14 HEB Plus held a literacy event in the HEB Buddy Literacy Center. Special guests included Joe’s Puppet Show Storytime Thing, which encouraged reading, singing, and sign language.

Lisa Chappa and her children Andres and Rubye are pictured at the July 21 Farmers Market in Jarvis Plaza. They enjoyed the convivial ambience, the music, the cooking demonstration, and the new vendors.

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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Cinderella – opening eve Battle Royale Members of the Laredo Wresting Alliance offered up several matches at UrbanFest 2012 on Saturday, July 8 at the Laredo Civic Center.


As part of the cast of LTGI’s recent production of Cinderella, Henry and Karen Mejia portrayed the minister and the minister’s wife. They are pictured in the lobby of the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts after the July 12 opening night performance.

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More than just a puppet thing


fun and innovative form of interactive education and entertainment is sweeping across the city. Joe’s Puppet Show/Story time Thing is all the rage with children, between the ages of two and 12, as well with their families. Local residents Joe Molina, Mario Mata, Jessica Soliz, and Christine Rojas have proven to be true pioneers of the arts as well as advocates for promoting literacy in our community. The show includes puppetry, acting, singing, storytelling, teaching character-building lessons, as well as the use of sign language. The puppets used in the show include some popular characters such as Cookie Monster, Grover, Ernie, Kermit, and Animal, along with some original characters. The show stemmed from Molina’s puppeteer’s imagination and a desire to instill a strong love of reading in children. Molina is a full time English Instructor at Laredo Community College and the creator and director of the show. Molina began storytelling while working in an art studio last summer, using Cookie Monster to emphasize how much fun paired reading can be. Though the studio closed in November, Molina began developing a concept for his own show and a plan to take that storytelling time experience out across the city. “I approached thee people I knew best to help with the show, seeing as I had never done anything like this before. It truly was a gamble,” Molina said, adding, “I approached Mata to be the music director, and Soliz and Rojas about hosting the show.” Rojas, a reporter for El Mañana and Rio, said “I’ve always had an

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interest in children, education, and reading initiatives. Even as a kid I’d volunteer at the library sorting books. I was excited and had trepidations when Joe approached me. I didn’t know what I was doing.” “I like to think of myself as the intermediary between the kids and the puppets. Honestly there is great reward in inspiring these kids to read, and if I can inspire just one kid to go out and pick up a book, then we accomplished something great,” added Rojas. “We read picture books to children such as the Caldecott Awardwinning The Paperboy, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ Where Do Balloons Go? The show uses songs such as “Rainbow Connection” and “Old McDonald Had a Farm” to accompany lessons pertaining to the ABC’S, animals, colors, and numbers.” The show includes a plethora of characters that continues to grow. One of the original characters includes Joe the puppet. Molina said, “I use my own voice for Joe. I followed the example of Jim Henson whose voice is that of Kermit’s or a more contemporary example is Seth MacFarlane using his voice for the character of Brain from the Family Guy.” Rojas said, “We also incorporate American Sign Language, as we attempt to raise awareness about the hearing impaired with one of our original characters, Cat the puppet. Cat comes out and doesn’t respond when looking at the kids or myself. I sign Cat and he quickly responds. The kids become engaged in attempting to communicate with the puppet through the use of sign language.” “We incorporate miniature skits that teach the children about the importance of saying “I’m sorry” and creating awareness about bullying and instructing them on what to do

should they ever encounter a bully. The character Kipling the dragon, who is from Leeds, England, takes Joe’s nose away and while it was initially a gag. It has evolved into a lesson on saying ‘sorry,’” said Molina. “I’m pleasantly surprised that these characters are well received,” said Rojas. We’ve had requests for Elmo and Abbey Cadabby. We’re waiting to premiere those characters. We constantly get requested for puppets such as the Smurfs or dinosaurs.” Rojas said, “In all honesty I feel like our mission is constantly being met, and as far as we continue to make new shows and come up with more stories while keeping that mission in mind we can accomplish so much.” “Aside from getting the kids excited about reading, one of our goals was getting the kids to have a safe place where they don’t have to worry about bullies or the pressure of state exams,” Molina said, adding, “We

don’t know whether or not a kid will become an accelerated reader or perhaps a future puppeteer.” This show is free of charge, however, donations are welcome to help cover the cost of transportation, puppets, and supplies. Performances have been staged at daycare centers, elementary schools, the Imaginarium of South Texas, and the Laredo Public Library. According to Texas A&M University’s Texas Center for the advancement of literacy and learning, 48% of Webb County residents are illiterate. Joe’s Puppet Show/Story time Thing lays the groundwork for taking on literacy by making reading an engaging, educational, and entertaining experience for everyone. Molina said the group is researching nonprofit status and expanding the show, but for now they remain creative guerillas taking on literacy. To book a puppet show, contact Joe Molina at (956) 236-0614 or email joepuppetshow@gmail.com ◆

Courtesy Photo


Joe Molina creator, puppeteer, and cast. W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Media, communications committee initiate ‘I VOTE’ push to counter voter apathy


“I am Laredo. . . I vote.” tagline unveiled for short-term promotion for run-off election, long-term campaign to be developed for general election

pating represent The Laredo Morning Times; LareDOS; KGNS/CW/Telemundo; KLDO/KXOF/Telefutura; KVTV; Guerra Communications; El Mañana; R Communications; Lamar Advertising; Laredo I.S.D.; United ISD; Texas A&M International University; the Webb County Elections office; the City of Laredo; and Time Warner Cable. “The ‘I Vote’ committee reinforces importance of our democracy. A higher voter turnout means we Laredoans believe in the electoral process and that votes do ‘make a difference,’” said Green. The “I Vote” committee has set lofty goals for the upcoming July 31 primary runoff and for the November 6 General Election – the same percentage (24 percent) for the runoff as in the May primary and 56 percent or 60,000 for the November election. The November ballot is heavy with races for the boards of school districts and

Laredo Community College; the City of Laredo; Webb County; State offices and propositions; and the presidential election. According to Oscar Villar-

real, Webb County Elections Administrator, the average percentage of voter turnout nationally during presidential elections is approximately 50 percent. The “I am Laredo. . . I vote” tagline will be visibly displayed by all participating media, including front page mastheads; websites with links to the early voting/voting day location sites; radio PSAs and by news anchors and DJs throughout the week leading up to the July 31 runoff election day.    The more intense creative advertising campaign aimed at the November elections will have high visibility in all media. Other media interested in participating in the campaign can contact Xochitl Mora García at 791-7461 or via e-mail at lmora@ci.laredo.tx.us. ◆

María Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS


he dismal number of voters who participated in the May primaries – 24 percent of more than 106,000 registered voters – has prompted members of the Laredo media to join forces in a non-partisan effort to get more Laredoans to the polls for the November General Election. Spearheaded by The Laredo Morning Times publisher Bill Green, the informal organization has launched a campaign called “I am Laredo…I vote,” which will be mirrored bilingually in print, broadcast, electronic, and social media. Though the group hopes the effort has bearing on the upcoming July 31 runoff election, most of the campaign will be aimed at the November 6 General Election. An initial meeting in early July began discussions with representatives of local media who have now committed to the broad get out the vote campaign. Those part ic i-

LMT Publisher Bill Green and KGNS general manager Carlos Salinas discuss their participation in the “I am Laredo…I Vote” media campaign. LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I



Thrift Store serves, thanks veterans and families



he Thrift Store at 1202 Salinas Avenue is a non-profit aimed at helping veterans, their families, and surviving spouses. Gigi Ramos, president and founder of Volunteers Serving the Need, sees the store as a means to thank those who served. Since its opening in January 2010, the Thrift Store has continued to grow, expanding its inventory of donated and found items that include books, shelves, stoves, chairs, beds, clothing, toys, and food. Through the South Texas Food Bank, the Thrift Store services as many as 700 veterans and their families monthly with a grocery bag of non-perishables. “There are many veterans out there in need of our help, and the sad part is that not enough is being done to address their needs. That’s where I come in. I’ve put my heart into this store. I’ve helped many, and I couldn’t be happier. We see so many illnesses, and veterans who

Elsa de Hoyos

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can’t work for their families. It’s a shame, really,” said Ramos of the collective inertia to assist veterans. R a m o s , whose demeanor is humble, began the Thrift Store because her husband is a retired Veteran and because she experienced first hand the lack of services for returning veterans. She accepts the applications for disabled veterans as well as spouses, and accepts them, she said, “with open arms.” Ramos said she is thankful for community volunteers and services that have helped the store provide goods and services. She thanked

the daily volunteers who work more than 7 hours a day to stock shelves and move merchandise. Bet ha ny House, she said, provides meals for the Thrift Store volunteers. She said some of the furniture in the store was found by looking for discarded item behind Sam’s and Wal-Mart. She said the wives of veterans have helped with stocking and decorating the store. Ramos said having a warehouse with a loading dock would greatly assist the workings of the Thrift Store and its volunteers. She is trying to expand the store and increase its sales to be able to rent two ad-

jacent buildings that would allow her to store for-sale appliances and equipment that are now kept outside. The store is a large single room. Ramos thanked Grace Lutheran Church for recently painting the exterior of the store, giving it, she said a more presentable look. “What she does for us is a miracle. She truly is a daughter of God,” said retired U.S. Army veteran Roberto Castillo. “She has given so many people a second chance in life – you don’t see that now days. They forget that sometimes, we veterans can’t do anything about what we need,” Castillo said. Board member Elsa de Hoyos has been a regular Thrift Store volunteer since last September. The retiree said staffing the store and being of assistance to those in need brings her joy. “We take the veterans for granted and shouldn’t. They helped us by serving, and in return we need to support them,” she said. The Thrift Store is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers and donors can call (956) 717-2960. ◆

Juan Navarro, Nancy Chamberlin, Gigi Ramos and María Castillo W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

At the cooking demo in Jarvis Plaza Julie Bazan, director of the Area Health Education Center, and Mary Garcia, manager of Books A Million, were some happy shoppers at last week’s Farmers Market.


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On homesickness, while also being sick of home By MAEGAN VAZQUEZ LareDOS Contributor


hen you’re living in the big city for too long, it’s easy to fish out reasons to avoid visiting your hometown. Old friends are never really the same, and your old bedroom becomes a relic filled with cardboard boxes and a musky dinge. There usually appears to be no change of scenery, minus a few mall venues and a gas station. Everything is frozen in time – just as you left it. It has become very easy to put off visiting Laredo while I go to school in New York City. I mean, let’s face it, Laredo: If San Antonio was your prettier, older cousin who ran the pageant circuit until she got pregnant at 19, New York City would obviously be Miss America. Regardless of her title, Lady Liberty still lacks a few things our Miss Tejano of-

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fers with ease. She has better Mexican food and my family and my dogs. And that’s enough for me to miss the damn place. A friend from home jokingly said that I’d be addicted to opiates by the time I visited home again. Another friend from NYU said that we city kids need a vice to get to the end of our freshman year. The three choices: booze and drugs, cigarettes, or coffee. I’m very glad to announce that I still believe crack is whack, but unfortunately, I’ve been hooked on lattes since midterms last fall. I really do need a lot of coffee to get by in this place. Somewhere between churning out papers, touring the hidden spots, and being a college student – I’m supposed to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. Meanwhile, everyone else in this city is already waist-deep into their careers. There’s obviously no pressure whatsoever. Luckily, my previous internship

with LareDOS helped me land a summer internship at FoxNews.com. Yes, that Fox News. Aunts and uncles often reply “Iralo!” when I show them some of my articles, and my friends laugh snidely when I tell them that some Fox News anchors and Z-lister Aaron Carter frequent my floor. While I was on the fence about staying away from home this long, this decision has led me to a great summer so far. I would like to think that I at least have a pinky toe in the door. Make no mistake – I will be returning to Laredo very soon. I am just dreading all of the possible awkward silences during conversations with friends, as well as seeing people who were mean to me in high school trying to say “hi” when I run into them at the mall. So when I do come back, do not seem surprised if you catch me freakishly chanting to the mirror: “You are from New York. Therefore you are naturally interesting” – just like 20-some-

thing Brooklyn writer Hannah on the HBO show Girls. What I am mostly dreading about my return, though, is that my whole “nothing will have changed” hypothesis is incorrect and that I will have missed out on what I consider significant moments in my life; moments like my dog having a litter of puppies and not being able to see them until they are fully grown, if at all; moments like close family friends renewing their vows; moments like seeing my nephew grow and lose his first tooth. I’m terribly afraid that these moments exist and/or will exist without me in their histories. I will admit it – elbowing my way through Times Square has frustrated me more than once, and I don’t get too nervous on the subway anymore; but I will always be a permanent tourist here, and I will always consider Laredo my home. It’s the place I am most rooted, the place I’ve made the most memories, and the place I can reside in at ease. ◆


Silke Jasso/LareDOS

Cowboys and Indians Karan Gyani and Lucca Mercado hop along at the Cowboys and Indian summer event sponsored by Intelligym Learning Center.


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Veterans along with their wives were present at LCC on July 10 for the screening of Valentine Moreno’s documentary on local veterans entitled “Vietnam: In Their Words.”

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Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Local heroes history documented

Young artists at work Homero Salivar is pictured painting on July 10 at classes for the Laredo Center for the Fine Arts summer camp.


 Continued FROM page 15 open in a public, taped, broadcast forum before which no council member would kamizae into the divine wind of oblivion by saying, “I am against the ethics ordinance.” San Miguel said after the July 16 meeting, “This will make it much harder for those special interests to come in to make deals that have adverse consequences for the taxpayers. There are some who argue that an ethics ordinance will hurt economic development. I say our votes belong to the taxpayers and not the small group that influences votes for the benefit of a few, rather than the whole community.” What’s ahead George Altgelt, the attorney who drafted the June 25 demand letter VIDA (Volunteers in Democratic Action) handed to every City Council member, said, “The passing of an undiluted Ethics Ordinance with teeth has the potential to bring about the progressive change that the citizens of Laredo voted for and deserve. There is conclusive evidence that


directly correlates prosperity with communities whose local governments act ethically.” Altgelt’s letter for VIDA reads in part, “Six years have passed since the voters spoke and still no such ethics commission exists. This is a slap in the face to the people of Laredo, who elected the mayor and city council to govern the city ethically and in accordance with the U.S. and Texas Constitutions and our federal and State laws. By this letter demand is made on the mayor, city council, and the city manager to appoint members from Laredo to serve as commissioners of the ethics commission and to immediately make the commission operational, thereby vesting them with the responsibility to adopt a code of ethics, a process by which complaints can be filed and timely heard, as well as, a set of repercussions if the Code of Ethics is violated. It is VIDA’s position that allowing six years to pass without the formation of the ethics commission is not only a violation of our community’s Constitutional rights but also unethical. It is disappointing that so many years have passed without an ethics com-

mission being put into place and not a single member of city council, including the mayor, is not outraged. My client has authorized me to make only one demand with regard to the implementation of the ethics commission for the City of Laredo. VIDA has also further advised me to extend to you a deadline of 90 days in order that the commission be fully operational or VIDA will exercise any and all rights it may have in equity or law, including the filing of a lawsuit, for the City of Laredo’s failure to follow the democratically elected mandate requiring an ethics commission.”

guess again. He is himself an independent free thinker, and it is not unusual that we may disagree on certain issues. I’m proud of his ability to articulate his ideas, particularly about the environment, and for how we can live just and peaceful lives.) ◆

The ad hoc ethics committee is reviewing its work, finalizing it. Two new appointees join the existing committee. Some Council members will no doubt work hard to water it down, to yank its teeth. It’s our job to watch the ordinance, to see it through. (For those of who don’t know, George Altgelt is my son, the son of the publisher of this news journal. For those who do know and may believe I am merely propping him up,

Javier Montemayor

The Ad Hoc Ethics Committee Tomás Izaguirre Miguel Zuñiga Mirta Piña Jonathan Ruiz Adolfo Campero Jesus Mendoza Elsa Galvan

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Before the morning hike

Casting plaster molds

Checking wind speed

Water filtration experiment

Identifying tracks

Examining fawn skeleton

At the water’s edge

Sorting recyclables

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Go Green with Sci Girls W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M



‘Go Green with SciGirls” camp was a hit

A visit to old places, old times



phone message from my granddaughter Emily in mid-July told me everything I needed to know about “Go Green with SciGirls,” the weeklong camp she was attending at Lake Casa Blanca.” I could hear in her voice that she was fully engaged, heart and mind, with what she was learning, and when I saw her on subsequent days she recounted every detail of daily discovery – comparing animal tracks on the lake shore with a printed guide from Texas Parks and Wildlife, learning about raptors and what they ate by looking at dessicated owl regurgitations, building an anemometer to measure wind speed. And beyond what she learned in the camp, she spoke so well of the friends she made and the ISLA (Informal Science Learning Associates of Laredo) teachers from whom she learned – Melissa Cigarroa, Lisa Chappa, and “Miss Vero” (Veronica Vaughan), a teacher many Laredo youngsters know and love. “Go Green with SciGirls,” incorporated curriculum from the Emmy-award winning PBS show SciGirls and focused on the themes of ecology and healthy living, employing the SciGirls seven strategies to engage girls in STEM activities – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to Cigarroa, ISLA lead educator, “Research has shown that while girls’ abilities in STEM fields match boys’ abilities in the upper W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

elementary to middle school years, an attitudinal shift occurs during this time, and the number of girls pursuing Stem fields in high school and higher education dramatically declines. By applying girl-friendly strategies, our camp activities have engaged girls in the process skills of science and engineering, built confidence in problem-solving and communication skills, and motivated them to tap into their natural curiosity about the world around them.” The young campers investigated wind and anenometers, explored the lake, discovered native animals, made plaster casts of animal tracks, practiced strategies of recycling and conservation, tested for water quality, and engineered a cleaning device for polluted water. “They were incredibly busy every day and met every activity with enthusiasm, energy, and with really inventive ideas about how to approach each challenge they encountered,” Cigarroa said. “Go Green with SciGirls” was one of the four Summer Camp at the Lake! nature camps staged by ISLA in conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The weeklong camps, which have been held on the shores of Lake Casa Blanca, have focused on what can be learned from the natural world, scientific exploration, water and resource conservation, recycling, and environmental stewardship. The first camp, “Nature Explorers,” met from July 9 to 13 and focused on the Lake Casa Blanca ecoContinued on page 56




friend and I arrived on the Laredo Community College campus to see the opening of The Odd Couple, arriving an hour early, which left us left us time to go see where I had once lived. We drove to the northwest corner of the campus the very last structure on the back row, exactly caddy-corner to the old flag pole where the troops used to muster. When I taught Texas A&I University at Laredo, we rented office space and classrooms from the Laredo Junior College. When I moved into that old house, the pavement on the road that went around my house and onto the back street of the campus had caved in. With my own funds, I eventually paid for the cleanup, the necessary dirt fill, and the paving of that road. Inside the house, I remodeled and added screens, fixtures and appliances, again, from my own funds. I lived happily in that home for about 23 years, until the university moved to its new location in 1995. Because of the proximity to the Rio Grande, we used to call my Fort McIntosh home “the last house in Texas.” I had wonderful neighbors. One of them, Vernon Teeters whom I wrote about last month. Vernon relayed the story of the killing that had taken place back at the Fort when the buffalo soldiers were stationed there. Several years later, I had a wonderful student Mrs. Blevins who had a copy of the original version with all of the stanzas of the song

“Streets of Laredo.” Another neighbor was Dr. Drew Tinsley whose son Mike had returned from Viet Nam with three Purple Hearts and a slew of other awards. Larry Schnur and his wife Naomi lived just a few doors down. The Ibarra family lived just across the street, and Ray Felger and his family lived in one of the old two-story homes at the southern end of our street. We had a weekly carne asada and, in the later years, several block parties. I loved that home and my wonderful neighbors and the festivities that we shared. As I shared my happy memories with my friend, I showed her where the giant metal tower used long ago by the Border Patrol was located just back of my home. I pointed to the spot on the river where we had used machetes to carve out a fishing spot and then carried a discarded concrete bench over so that we could sit down while fishing at our spot. I showed her another spot a little ways upriver where I had carved out a concealed “hole” where I used to take photographs of birds and animals. On one particular day, I had taken a photo of 38 individuals preparing to enter the river, moving across the river, and drying off on this side. When I entered that photo in a college photography contest with the title of “The Flood,” it won the “Best of Show” award. On the other side of the campus, I showed my friend where the Border Patrol used to house its communications center, maintain a shooting range, and land its small plane right there on the grounds behind the old music building. Then, I directed her Continued on page 55


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La Posada’s Tack Room celebrates 30th anniversary By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff


a Posada Hotel’s Tack Room Restaurant – known as “the best little steakhouse in south Texas since 1982 ” – marks a 30-year milestone in August. The legendary service and wellprepared dishes have long set the elegant eatery apart from other venues and have been key to the Tack Room’s three decades of sustainability. Located at the corner of Zaragoza and Flores Avenue and known to local historians as the Bruni-Cantu building, the structure showcases Victorian American architectural details synchronized with Mexican construction. It was built in the late 1880s on property owned by Refugio García Garza, and briefly it housed

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the first telephone exchange that serviced Laredo and Nuevo Laredo. The structure later belonged to Raymond and Tirza Martin, who gave it to their daughter and sonin-law, Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Henry Bruni, as a wedding gift. It was later owned by Carlos P. Cantu who operated a forwarding agency there. It is listed in the National Registry of Historic Buildings. In 1982, with modifications made to the interior to establish a restaurant, the Tack Room opened, taking its rightful place as the cornerstone of La Posada’s west wing. As a tip of the hat to horseracing and to Laredoans who enjoyed the races at Nuevo Laredo’s hipodromo in the 1980s, the décor reflected a stable motif, a copper-topped bar, and a stained glass installation of thoroughbreds and riders. On the second floor diners are

served in one of the most elaborate open show-grills in the country. All cooking is done before the guests in intimate surroundings from a beautifully designed copper and brass grill in the center of the room. A cocktail gallery overlooks San Agustín Plaza and the west patio of the complex. According to La Posada’s marketing director Enrique Lobo, the Tack Room has not undergone any major changes or renovations in the last 30 years. “While Laredo has seen many restaurants open their doors and regretfully have to close them, the Tack Room has remained consistent with good service and great food. It has also been loyal to its clientele,” Lobo said. He credits customer service man-

ager Manuel Cantu, Chef José Lino Ramos, and head bartender Manuel “El Matador” Cruz with much of the Tack Room’s success. “All three gentlemen have been with the Tack Room, welcoming and serving guests for over 20 years each. Their experience and expertise is valued not only by management but by the clients as well,” he said. Lobo said a 30th anniversary promotion will begin on Labor Day and will offer very special pricing on the menu items for which the Tack Room is renown – steaks, chops, and seafood. Those details will be announced in August. To be among the first to hear about the promotion, visit www. laposada.com/tack-room or friend them on Facebook ◆


Serving Sentences

By randy koch Randy Koch earned his MFA at the University of Wyoming and teaches writing at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.


n Monday morning, two days before Independence Day, my older brother Ken eased his Ford Focus to the curb on the east side of the only grocery store in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The clean paved street, flooded with morning sunlight, was broad like those in many small western towns. He got out, stepped around the front of the car, and disappeared past the corner of the building and inside to get sunflower seeds for the two boys in the backseat: his 14-yearold son Anthony and his 6-year-old grandson Carsyn. They wore caps, T shirts, shorts, and cleats, and while they giggled about knuckleballs and the Vaseline stain on the bill of Anthony’s cap, two tall women looked down at us from above the hood of the car. I’d never seen them before or the other figures painted on the long wall of the two-story brick grocery store called Bubai Foods, but then again I hadn’t been here in nearly three years. However, one of the women looked familiar – a pioneer of Scandinavian or northern European descent in a plain long-sleeved black dress with a thin white frilly collar, brown hair pulled back from her lightly tanned face, and a McGuffey’s Reader in her right hand. She clearly represented the most famous figure in Walnut Grove’s history. The other woman – with Asian features, a rounded headdress, and a gown that looked like a sari decorated with pink, blue, yellow, and purple dots above the waist and similarly colored zigzags, diamonds, and circles below – looked exotic. Here, 50 miles from the South Dakota state line and in the midst of southern Minnesota’s monotonously flat, green fields of corn and soybeans, she seemed stunningly out of place, particularly in contrast to the other woman and the primarW W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Little Tsev Nqeeb on the Prairie ily white, simply dressed farm wives who live around here and among whom I’d grown up. Other details of the painting seemed foreign, too, but before I could look more closely, Ken returned, Anthony and Carsyn had sunflower seeds, and we were off to the diamonds behind the school. When their games ended shortly before noon, we drove down 6th Street and past the mural again, across Main Street, and over the railroad tracks. We headed east on US 14 – Nellie’s Café and Anderson Trucking on the left and several Meadowland Farmers Cooperative buildings and anhydrous ammonia tanks on the right. Near the edge of town, we slowed near the mailbox with “Kochs” spelled out above a hand-painted brown pig and “Ken and Paulette” below. About 50 yards ahead, a black car approaching from the east slowly pulled off the highway and onto the gravel shoulder, all the faces inside

turned to the neatly mowed patch of grass where a tall white sign greeted westbound travelers. “Welcome to Walnut Grove,” it says, “childhood home of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder.” In the upper left corner is an image of Ma, Pa, and Laura Ingalls smiling from the back of a covered wagon. Ken turned in the driveway. From the backseat, Anthony watched the black doors swing open, and when several smiling kids and two adults clambered out and trotted through the newly mowed ditch toward the sign, he laughed, “Not again.” He couldn’t believe that people drove from all over the country to tiny Walnut Grove, population 871, to take pictures in front of the sign next to their house. Of course, to people from the East or West Coast, urbanites from the Twin Cities or Chicago, or kids who grew up with computers, iPods, and the In-

ternet, Walnut Grove and its pioneer history are probably alien and exotic, though in a simple, down-to-earth way. While the town is best known as the setting for NBC’s Little House on the Prairie TV series in the 1970s, its more significant and lasting claim to fame is summarized on a stone marker about 1.5 miles north of town along County Road 5: “A dugout along Plum Creek southeast of this point was the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote On the Banks of Plum Creek, widely known as a children’s story. The book tells actual incidents of pioneer life here and in Walnut Grove, including blizzards and a grasshopper plague in the 1870s.” Because she also wrote nine other very popular books and lived to be 90, I understood the place’s appeal, but I also wondered how tourists like those in the black car, not to mention local families who Continued on next page

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Leslie L. Young Is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Laredo.


illions of Americans are following the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. The last time swimmer Michael Phelps competed, he brought home more gold medals at one time than anyone in the history of the Olympics. Will he do it again? If there was an Olympics for customer services available online, the services at www.socialsecurity.gov would be the Michael Phelps of that competition. Over the years, Social Security’s online services have been rated the best in government and the best in all industries.When it comes to independent customer satisfaction scores, Social Security’s online services consistently bring home the gold, silver, and bronze. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) tracks customer satisfaction and rates websites for their performance. Out of all online services provided by 101 federal agencies in the running, Social Security took all of the top three spots again in the latest survey. In third place, the application for Extra Help with Medicare Part D prescription drug costs is rated 89. Bringing home the silver, in second place, the Retirement Estimator scored a 91. And the top-rated online service in government is the online application for Social Security benefits, with a satisfaction score of 92. It’s worth noting that even our newest online service is already scoring high praise. Since being launched in May, the online Social Security Statement is rated 88, giving this new service one of the highest ratings in government. Whether you want to plan for or apply for your retirement, look into other benefits available, or learn

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Social Security

Social Security goes for the gold about the history of the program, you can do it all at Social Security’s website. When you’re taking a break from the Summer Olympics, visit the Olympian of online services at www.socialsecurity.gov. America’s most popular baby names Each year, Social Security announces the top baby names for boys and girls, based on Social Security card applications for babies born in the previous year. If you have children or you’re friends or relatives with those who do, chances are you might know a few babies with the “in” names. This year, the most popular babies in the playpen are Jacob and Sophia, followed by Mason and Isabella. You can visit them in their online “crib” at www.socialsecurity. gov/babynames. At the website, you also can see other lists of popular baby names. For example, you can search for the 1,000 most popular names of a decade, the five most popular names of the past century, or search for the most popular names in your state. You can even get popular baby names for twins. Plug in any name — including your own — to see where it comes in on the list. But Jacob and Sophia’s page isn’t just about baby names. Find out about getting a Social Security number for your baby and what every parent should know about Social Security. Learn about benefits for children and grandchildren, and plan your family’s financial future. You also can link to information about having a healthy pregnancy, taking care of your newborn, and childproofing your home. Need to

read up on childhood immunizations, food stamps, or other nutrition assistance programs for families with children? The links are there, along with more information than there are gifts at a baby shower. When people think about Social

Security, they often think of the retirement years. But Social Security is there throughout your life — from the day a child is named. Social Security’s popular Baby Names page has a lot to offer. See for yourself at www.socialsecurity.gov/babynames today. ◆

 Continued FROM page 43 have lived here for generations, would respond to the new mural downtown. A few days later, I stopped at Bubai Foods and found Terry Yang, a short man with dark brown skin and thinning black hair, who, along with his brother Harry, runs the business. A reddish shadow of a birthmark surrounds his right eye, and he wore a light blue short-sleeved shirt crisscrossed with darker blue stripes, tan cargo shorts that ended below his knees, and sandals. While we stood below the mural and talked, he often broke into a broad, toothy smile. He explained that he left Laos when he was 24 and lived first in Fitchburg, MA, and then for 16 years in St. Paul, MN, before moving to Walnut Grove in 2001. More Hmong families followed in subsequent years so that now nearly 30% of the local elementary school students and nearly half the town’s population are Hmong. Then, he pointed out details of the mural: the man wearing a westernized shirt with a traditional Hmong vest, belt, and pants; a water buffalo rather than an ox pulling the plow; the round basket or ker in which the young girl carries grain; and the log bridge over the creek, symbolic of the connection between past and present, pioneer history and Hmong history. He named the different parts of the Hmong woman’s clothing but hesitated as if approximating the English spelling for each while I wrote them

down: phoua for her headwear, tia for the white skirt, shād for the colorful design below her waist, lashē for the belt, tso for the shirt, and xō for her silver necklace. When I asked where the $4,000 for the mural came from, Terry smiled and explained that the community support for the project was wonderful, that several groups contributed money, and that the local response to creating the mural and combining Hmong images with those associated with the Laura Ingalls Wilder story was very positive. “What about tourists’ reaction?” I asked. “Especially since the images on the mural don’t match those they have in their minds from reading the book?” “Too soon,” he said. And it was, of course, since the finished mural was barely a month old and most tourists arrive in July when the Wilder Pageant runs for three weekends near Plum Creek west of town. I suspect, however, that local people, tourists, and Little House readers who recognize the mural’s prairie cone flowers, winding creek, and young Laura running across the grass toward the sod house will also embrace the images of the water buffalo, the distant mountain, the man playing the qeej, brown rather than black soil, and especially the dark faces of the Hmong people building not only a tsev nqeeb but a home on the Minnesota prairie. ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

News Brief


Laredoans invited to apply for Rotary Group Study Exchange in India

otary International is sponsoring a Group Study Exchange for four non-Ro tarians who are employed and between the ages of 25 and 40. The exchange will be with Kerala, India, which is called “the land of the gods” for its beauty. Participants will depart the United States around January 15, 2013 and will return February 15. Applicants must be able to be away for at least 30 days. All expenses will be paid except for personal needs. The work/ study exchange has four suggested areas of work/study – maternal and child health, water and sanitation, disease prevention and treatment, basic education and literacy, economic and community development,


and peace and conflict prevention or resolution. Those who are selected will be prepared and led by a Rotary team leader, who together with the selected participants will prepare a short presentation in various cities to Rotary and civic organizations as requested by the host Rotary District. For further information, contact Alan Johnson at (956) 389-4300 or by e-mail at ajohnson@the legacyfoundation.org Applications and information regarding the Group Study Exchange can be found at www.Rotary.org/gse. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2012. -LareDOS Staff

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Laredo Animal Protective Society



he Laredo Animal Protective Society expresses its heartfelt gratitude to members of the community who have come forward offering their many talents to the Laredo Animal Shelter which is undergoing renovation. Having operated for the last 30 years as the impound facility for the City has strained our Shelter and left it in need of many improvements. During this incredibly hot weather, our old kennel misting system finally pooped out, bringing out of retirement for the day our wonderful past director Freddie Flores, to see if he could resurrect it. As if in answer to our prayers, as Freddie arrived, so also did Javier Gutierrez Jr.,

human resources manager from Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, wondering if there was a project Lowe’s could possibly help with! Three weeks later, we are happy to report, Lowe’s has donated the very expensive motor and installed a new misting system, for which our doggies are very grateful. Our heartfelt thanks go out to our Lowe’s Angels, including Yadira Rojas, pricing/signage coordinator and Iris Hernandez, administrative department manager and all those involved in Lowe’s Heroes’ Project. Also, as if in response to our June article in LareDOS, “LAPS Looks Ahead to More Spay-Neuter Clinics and to Promoting Adoption of Healthy Pets,” the Laredo Gateway Rotary Club has given us the money in the form of a $5,000 grant, to bring back the Spay Neuter Assistance Program

Courtesy Photo

New think tank, angels arrive just in time

Our new think tank - Sergio Lozano, Lily Diaz Lozano, Hector J. Chapa, LAPS president Richard Renner, and Michele Deveze. Seated are Carmen Guzman, Christine Riojas, Vanessa Rodriguez, Ileana Gonzalez, and Jose Pelayo. toward a vision for the shelter’s future. We anticipate many good things to come from their high energy and enthusiasm. During these hot months of summer, we are focused at the animal shelter on making necessary repairs, and looking for funds to equip our low cost spay neuter clinic, while providing for the animals in our care and looking for permanent homes for them. We thank our many volunteers for their tireless work, and we are grateful for the continued support of our community. ◆

Courtesy Photo

(SNAP) mobile clinic. We are extremely grateful for this donation and are working on scheduling a date. For more information please call Cathy Kazen at (956) 7631402 between the hours of noon and five. As a result of members of the community expressing their desire to become involved as part of the solution to the animal shelter’s pressing needs, a gathering came together at Danny’s on Jacaman Road. Many multi-talented animal lovers/problem solvers met and brainstormed ideas and suggestions to work

Lowe’s angels Javier Gutierrez, Iris Hernandez, Yadira Rojas.

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By JuanAlanis

Alanis, former of Laredo, is currently a meteorology student at Mississippi State University. He is a member of the American Meteorology Society (AMS) and Webb County Coordinator for the CoCoRaHS/National Weather Service rainfall observer program


armer oceans make stronger hurricanes – this is a common phrase we hear in the news every time a tropical system forms. In reality, however, water temperatures are only one factor in tropical cyclone development. As a student volunteer at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Corpus Christi, I had the pleasure to attend a hurricane workshop for NWS meteorologists last month. Dr. Steve Lyons, former hurricane expert at The Weather Channel, now MeteorologistIn-Charge at the NWS in San Angelo, was the keynote presenter. He pointed out to NWS staff that water temperatures do not necessarily control the strength of a tropical system. “It is mostly the atmosphere controlling what tropical systems do (strengthen, weaken),” Lyons said. He said that the Gulf of Mexico waters are warm enough to support category five storms throughout the summer months, but rarely do they occur. This is due to atmospheric conditions. In order for tropical systems to form and strengthen, there must be no wind shear. Wind shear refers to winds in the mid and upper levels of the atmosphere that blow storms apart. There also has to be high pressure aloft to allow for the tropical cyclone to have excellent outflow. And the air in and around the system must be moist. Dry air that gets into a storm’s circulation will weaken the storm. It is these factors that really control hurricanes, not necessarily water temperatures. According to Lyons, “Rarely does intensification of a storm match water (temperature) changes.” He presented meteorologists with numerous cases in which water temperatures had little to no impact on a storm’s strengthening or weakening. For example, Hurricane Rita, which W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Keeping a Weather Eye

How tropical storms become hurricanes hit the upper Texas coast in September 2005, strengthened from a tropical storm to a Category 5 Hurricane in about 36 hours. Water temperatures over these 36 hours held steady. Rita then weakened from a Category 5 to a Category 3 even though Gulf waters were warmer as the storm approached the Texas coast. According to the final analysis from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Rita weakened due to increasing southwesterly wind shear. Hurricane Ivan in 2004 followed a similar fate. Ivan achieved Category 5 status in the Yucatan Channel as it passed between Mexico and Cuba, then weakened. Despite moving over a pool of very warm waters in the central Gulf, Ivan did not regain Cat 5 status, and in fact weakened to a Category 3 by landfall in Alabama. Hurricane Ike in September 2008, despite forecasts calling for the storm to become a Category 4 by landfall in Texas, maintained Category 2 status throughout its trek over the Gulf of Mexico, despite passing over several very warm areas of water. Tropical systems usually require waters of at least 80° F to form and develop. However, there are several examples where storms have formed over “cold” waters or even over land due to “perfect atmospheric conditions.” Hurricane Vince from 2005 formed over the waters of the far eastern Atlantic, waters that were near 73° F. Vince, however, defied the odds predicted by forecasters to simply be a weak tropical storm and only for a couple of days. Vince strengthened to a hurricane over these cool waters. Forecasters speculated it would maintain hurricane status “while oceanic and atmospheric content changes little.” Vince would eventually be sheared apart by upper level winds, though it

REGIONAL RAINFALL REPORT STATION WB2 WB 4 WB 5 WB 6 WB 9 WB 12 WB 13 WB 14 WB 21 WB 22 WB 23 WB 24 WB 25 WB 26 WB 27 WB 29 WB 37 WB 39 WB 40 WB 41 Laredo Laredo Cotulla Hebbronville

LOCATION Heights-Garfield St Las Tiendas Ranch Callaghan Ranch McPherson Rd/Chacon Creek Mangana Hein Rd 8E Del Mar C Del Mar N/Preston Ln Laredo 18.4 NE Shiloh /Woodridge Laredo 23.7 ENE Freer 29.5 WSW Trautmann MS area United South MS area Zaragoza St-downtown Jacaman Rd/ Saldana Heights-E. Lane St Stamford St (East Laredo) E. Clark Blvd/Jarvis McPherson Rd/Country Club Mines Road-Green Ranch KGNS TV Airport Airport Airport

JUNE 0.49” 2.31” TR 0.72” 3.46” 0.75” 0.23” 0.00” 0.24” 0.46” 0.16” 0.19” 0.27” 1.04” 1.34” 1.62” 1.33” 0.65” 0.27” 0.66” 0.43” 1.45” 0.52” 0.25”

Source: CoCoRaHS/National Weather Service-Corpus Christi


June 2012 Normal* Avg high Avg low Rain

101.1 76.8 0.43”

98.9 75.2 2.23”

*Normal refers to climate normal from 1981 to 2010

defied the odds several times by redeveloping convection despite the cold waters and wind shear. Vince would make landfall in Spain on October 11, 2005, the only tropical system to ever hit Spain . Tropical Storm Fay in August 2008 never achieved hurricane status, despite moving over the warmest waters of the Gulf of Mexico between Cuba and southwest Florida. Yet, after landfall it gained strength, winds increased, pressure dropped, and an eye developed. When Fay made landfall around 5 a.m. on August 19,

winds were measured at 60 mph with a central pressure of 989 mb. Around 11 a.m. that day, after making landfall over SW Florida, an eye feature developed, with winds actually increasing to 65 mph and pressure dropping to 986 mb. Fay strengthened over land. Final analysis from the NHC indicated that Fay likely strengthened over land due to decreasing vertical wind shear, increasing low-level frictional convergence and the swampy waters of southern Florida which are Continued on page 56


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Movie Review

Prepare to meet your maker: Prometheus By CORDELIA BARRERA LareDOS Contributor “Why did you do that, my son?” asked Zeus. “I wanted to help mankind,” answered Prometheus. “But why give them fire? They will soon imagine that they are gods, like us,” said Zeus. “Maybe that’s why I did it…maybe the world needs more gods,” answered Prometheus. “You have overreached, Prometheus,” replied Zeus in anger. “Men are not gods. Because you have tried to be a god, you will be punished. Every act breeds consequence. And as for mankind…they too will learn this lesson.” Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s much-anticipated quasi-prequel to Alien (1979), lays the groundwork for a grand mythology about humankind’s place in the universe. On the surface, the film is about the entanglements of faith and science. But humanity’s often-perverse need for exploration and adventure dominates its heart. Throughout the film we are sometimes horrified and sometimes awed as the human quest for our origins degenerates into unfettered hubris. In Prometheus, like the story of the Titan the film takes its name from, humans are not masters of their universe. Like many classic sci fi films, Prometheus does not answer all of its big questions. But it’s redeemed by its stunning visuals and compelling performances –particularly Michael Fassbender as David, the guarded android who just might hold the key to the human soul, an idea that tugs at the various intersecting storylines of the film. The film’s opening scene is breathtaking. A huge spacecraft glides over a majestic natural landscape that looks very much like Earth. A sinewy hu-

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manoid alien takes note of the ship and then proceeds to drink an oilyblack, bubbling liquid. The alien begins to disintegrate and cascade into a waterfall, his DNA triggering a biogenetic reaction. This scene is more than just a prologue. It sets in motion the logic of the film – that life is spontaneous and arises from pre-existing life. The following scene cuts to the year 2089, as archaeologists uncover a series of pictographs off the coast of Scotland. One 35,000 year-old pictograph shows a star chart or star map. We soon learn that there are other star maps spread among several unconnected ancient cultures all over the Earth. The archaeologists, Dr.Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Dr. Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) believe that the star maps were created by beings they call “the Engineers,” pre-human ancestors of modern humans. They also believe that the maps are an invitation that might just help them unlock the secret of the human soul. Because knowledge – human or otherwise – is a premium commodity and a lucrative enterprise, there are always powerful men willing to bankroll a Promethean-sized grab at immortality. Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce), the old billionaire and CEO of Weyland

Corporation with a God complex, funds the scientific vessel Prometheus to follow the star map to the distant moon, LV-223. Upon arrival at LV-223, we meet the icy Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), a Weyland Corp “suit” with unreadable motives who is sent to monitor the crew. When Drs. Shaw and Holloway, along with a hologramic image of old man Weyland inform the crew of the huge stakes behind the mission, we understand that the search for knowledge is only one of several agendas on board. When the Prometheus crew explores

a large artificial structure, the audience recognizes a strand of DNA from the first Alien film. The living, membranous caverns are there, so are the sticky secretions and the acid blood. But there is also the primeval “black ooze” that many X-Files fans know so well. The ooze has an apparent “will” and seems to be able to mutate whatever life form it infects to its own ends. As the visceral horrors mount, and we squirm in terror at all those forcible impregnations we’ve come to expect of the Alien franchise, we also grapple with what’s most incongruous to us: the possibility that no God exists, but rather only unknown, unfathomable alien forms with wills and desires of their own. Prometheus is a skillfully paced sci fi film that has enough “body horror” in the form of oral invasions to engross even the most discerning horror fans; it’s also an intelligent and gripping action film. Because it successfully dissolves the boundaries between human and machine, machine and alien, and human and alien, it effectively challenges a slew of pressing ideas and concerns about faith, the limits of science, the divine nature of the universe, and our all-too human Promethean drive to know –everything. ◆



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Movie Review

Laredo Community College

The Dark Knight Rises completes Nolan’s trilogy

Fall registration continues

By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff The long anticipated conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters on Friday, July 20. Based on the DC comics Batman character, Nolan began his series with Batman Begins followed by The Dark Knight. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Cillian Murphy reprise their respective roles from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The film introduces a new character played by Anne Hathaway, Selina Kyle, Gotham’s own cat burglar. Due to a chain of events that culminate after her arrival, Batman is forced out of retirement only to encounter Bane, portrayed by Tom Hardy, a terrorist leader who has plans to destroy the city. Hardy’s portrayal of Bane was a refreshing contrast to Joel Schumacher’s in Batman and Robin in which Bane was characterized as a brainless lackey. Hardy’s accent was at times distracting, unrecognizable, and difficult to understand. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hardy said his inspiration for the accent stemmed from Bartley Gorman, a bare knuckle fighter. Overall Hardy succeeded in playing an intellectually and physically menacing character. The film begins with Gotham City in a state of peace – a result of the Dent Act by which Commissioner James Gordon, played by Gary Oldman, has nearly eradicated organized crime. However, guilt over the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes from The Dark Knight weighs heavily

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on the commissioner’s shoulders. While following the lead in the abduction of a congressman, Gordon is shot and promotes patrol officer John Blake – later revealed to be Robin John Blake, a reference to Batman’s crime fighting companion – to detective, as portrayed by Joseph Gordon Levitt. Levitt was perfectly cast as Blake, an idealistic cop intelligent enough to deduce Batman’s identity. With continuing plot twists Nolan ensured that audiences were kept questioning what would happen next. Batman confronts Bane, who claims to have taken over the League of Shadows following the death of Batman’s mentor Ra’s al Ghul’s. Bane cripples and imprisons Batman in the Pit, a virtually inescapable prison. Inmates relate the story of the only person to ever escape: a child driven by necessity and the sheer force of will. Nolan had some audience members believing that it was in fact Bane who had escaped from the Pit. It is later revealed that is was none other than Ra’s al Ghul’s child, Talia al Ghul – whose identity was closely concealed prior to release of the film – who plans to complete her father’s work by destroying Gotham and avenging his death at Wayne’s hands. The fight sequences were aesthetically pleasing to action lovers. The very first battle between Batman and Bane is taken straight from the Batman #497 comic. Bane’s most iconic appearance, in which he destroys Batman, went by too quickly Continued on page 55



egistration for the Fall 2012 semester is now underway, and students who are hoping to find their future at LCC this fall are encouraged to get advised now in order to register as soon as possible to lock in their classes. Anyone interested in taking fall classes can log on to www.laredo.edu and click on the PASPort icon. Then click the tab for Additional Resources to view the class schedule. Early registration ensures the best choice of classes and class times. Deadline for payment of all tuition and fees is Thursday, August 16. The first day of the Fall 2012 semester is Monday, Aug. 27. Students new to LCC can now quickly apply online by visiting www.laredo.com/apply. First-time students and students who have not declared a major can get advised at the Student Success Center at the Fort McIntosh Campus in Memorial Hall, room 107, or at the South Campus in the Billy Hall Student Center, room 116. Both locations are open for advising Monday through Thurs-

day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Students also can get advised on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Memorial Hall, room 125, at the Fort McIntosh Campus only. Students who have not yet been advised are encouraged to contact the LCC Student Success Center at the Fort McIntosh Campus at 721-5135 or at the South Campus at 794-4135 as soon as possible to make an appointment with an advisor. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments take priority. Those with a declared major can call their instructional departments to make an appointment for advising. Additionally, due to the success of LCC’s Enrollment Open House on Saturday, June 30, the college will be hosting several more open houses throughout July and August, as well as an outreach event in Zapata. Students will have the opportunity to fulfill all their registration needs at one time and in one place. For the dates of the Enrollment Open Houses or for information on registration, students should call the LCC Enrollment and Registration Services Center at 721-5109. ◆



TAMIU study abroad enriches students By MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff


Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

AMIU junior Carlos Diaz is about to broaden his view of the world by studying in China as part of the University’s Study Abroad and Exchange Program. The Houston native spent a few years in Monterrey before relocating with his family to Laredo. Diaz, who is working on a BBA, chose a program that will allow him to travel and study in Shanghai, China at East China Normal University. “My initial plan had been to travel to France first. I began studying French at a young age. Although my studies in business led me to discover that the French market is not currently quite as successful as China’s. Today I learned that our nation’s debt is one-third based on China’s commerce. If it weren’t for China we would literally be bankrupted,” said Diaz.

Carlos Diaz Traveling to China is also a great opportunity to learn a new language, according to Diaz. “I’ve been practicing Mandarin for over a year. Language breaks barriers. Laredo for instance has a lot of different cultures. Not that many people take the time to explore rituals, languages, and customs different from their own,” Diaz said. Diaz added, “Being a business major, W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

it is very important to understand various markets, which entails I be familiar with various cultures and customs. I’ve never really traveled outside of Texas. I am not too familiar with traveling within my own country,” he added, “I believe that when you travel to other countries people expect you to posses a certain amount of knowledge about different parts of your country. I’ve had that experience with international students. It is tough to have to admit sometimes that I have never traveled to for instance to our state capital, but I hope to gain profound knowledge and significant experiences with my study abroad trip.” “I’ve been very passionate about my studies since day one. I was recruited to work for the Office of Recruitment my second semester of college. It has open many doors for me and has changed my views on TAMIU, as well as diplomacy,” Diaz said, adding, “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Raul Salinas, Senator Judith Zaffirini, and State Representative Henry Cuellar. I’ve had the chance to accompany them and get to know some of them on a personal basis. I’m involved in a lot of TAMIU events, and a lot of people say my life revolves around this university and honestly it does.” After relocating to Laredo and given financial constraints, Diaz did not do much traveling until he began working at the university. “TAMIU has helped me a lot in fulfilling my desires to travel. I’ve traveled within the state to Lagarto, Sandia, Austin, San Antonio, and New Braunfels to conferences to represent the university and inform potential students all about TAMIU. I have never paid a single cent out of my pocket for these trips, which is an opportunity not many students get.” Diaz said, “I’ve always been interested in traveling and exploring either European or Asian life. My interests in traveling abroad began my freshman

year as I began researching possible traveling opportunities. It was simply a matter of when I’d be able to go. I’ve worked in the summer program, Dusty Camp as an orientation leader. We introduced incoming TAMIU freshmen to all of the university’s amenities and some of its organizations; this required I be well versed with the Study Abroad Program. When I give campus tours, I make it a point to throw a pitch for students to look into travel opportunities.” Of his upcoming studies abroad, Diaz said, “It’s not a walk in the park. I’ve been fortunate enough that Jannet Garcia, former associate sirector of international education, and the current staff were so helpful. As far as funding a trip such as this, its all about applying for as many scholarships as possible. I’ve received the Gilman International Scholarship, International Educational Fund Scholarship, and the Undergraduate Scholarship through TAMIU so far.” Financial constraints aren’t the only reason students hold back from study abroad. “My family wishes I’d stay here. I have plenty of family asking me why I wish to leave to another country when I have a university here, and I am going to get the same degree at the end of the day,” he said, adding, “They throw in comparisons with my friends and how they’re not leaving, so why should I. At the end of the day, I am fulfilling my dream of traveling while expanding my career opportunities. My parents are finally coming around. It’s a big step out

into the world and a sign of growth for me,” Diaz said. Associate Director of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs, Triana Gonzalez said, “Since his first year at TAMIU, Carlos has demonstrated an eagerness to meet people from all over the world. Study abroad is a great opportunity that TAMIU offers and Carlos is taking advantage of this in order to continue meeting people and exploring other cultures. Helping Carlos complete his study abroad documentation has been a smooth process; since he has carefully looked at the deadlines and submitted all of his paperwork in a timely manner.” Gonzalez said that study abroad is a discovery process, a discovery of foreign language and academics, countries and cultures, but most importantly it is a self-enriching experience. Gonzalez added, “All of our study abroad programs are filled with numerous opportunities for our TAMIU students. Programs in China have become very popular and this is a great movement since Asia is still in a way unknown to our community. Getting to experience the culture and its people is a life-altering experience.” TAMIU has a comprehensive offering of study abroad programs, financial aid, and student scholarships. TAMIU aids students throughout their study abroad experience, from the early planning stages until their return to the campus. ◆

LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I


Dr. Neo Gutierrez is a Ph.D. in Dance and Fine Arts, Meritorious Award in Laredo Fine Arts recipient 2009 from Webb Co. Heritage Foundation, Laredo Sr. Int’l 2008, Laredo MHS Tiger Legend 2002, and Sr. Int’l de Beverly Hills, 1997. Contact neodance@aol.com.


t the end of last month, PBS-TV made sure that the Zapata High School Mariachi Halcon will be a matter of public record forever. On July 29 at prime-time the public broadcast network presented “Mariachi High,” a documentary feature of the school’s award-winning mariachi band, which has slots for only 24 students at a time. For the past two years Mariachi Halcon has won the state mariachi competition. Having been born in Zapata myself, I was happy to read in the L.A. Times of the Mariachi Halcon. The documentary is part of the PBS Summer Festival of the Arts, a seven-part series that highlights firstclass artists and their endeavors. The LA Times said that the vibrant documentary focuses on MexicanAmerican teenagers who strive to reach excellence, thereby finding self-strength, as well as a connection to their cultural background. Music instructor Adrian Padilla is credited as the talented educator who has prepared his students to compete with students from larger and more prosperous schools in Texas. Padilla’s mariachi student members are not only talented musicians, but they graduate and go on to college.  Ilana Trachtman, executive producer and director of the PBS documentary, said, “These days Latinos have the highest index of school dropouts in the entire country. These days arts education is continually attacked because of its cost, yet here we have adolescents who, via their cultural heritage, and despite unreal challenges, manage to succeed.” From the Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media, we learn that

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Notes from Lala Land

PBS features Zapata Mariachi Halcon “Mariachi High” is a flash point for the complex issues facing the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. It is estimated by some that one quarter of all American teens will be Latino in 2025 – a group that has the highest dropout rate in the nation. Among the Latino students who do graduate, as many as half never attend college. But through culturally-relevant programs, such as a mariachi group, the results have been dramatic. In schools with mariachi music programs, students, such as those in “Mariachi High,” are unflinching, have enormous composure, and they are smart, fun, passionate and college-bound. From the PBS Mariachi High video on the web: the journey begins with humor and nail-biting auditions, through numerous annual competitions, master classes with the legendary Mariachi Vargas group, and up through graduation in May 2011. The documentary follows teens like freshman Eloy Martinez, who is aiming for medical school; incoming senior Jennifer Santos, vice-president of her class and star tennis player; and Ashley Guzman, who dreams of an Ivy League college career. These are just three of the twenty-six students in Mariachi Halcon of Zapata High – a 99% Latino school district with just over 900 students. The television program uses the band and its music as a lens, showcasing the dreams and dramas of growing up Latino, and the positive impact this vibrant music program has on the entire Zapata community. In beautiful manner, we see and hear the virtuosity of the music, the personal struggles and triumphs of the young musicians and their mentors, the inten-

sity of their connections to the band leaders, and the music, and the way the students’ participation in the mariachi motivates them to succeed. If you missed the original showing on nationwide television last month, go to the PBS website and enjoy the captivating revelation and connection of youth and music. A DVD of the program is available through PBS for about $25. A few days before the PBS special, Los Angeles fans were treated to an exciting four and a half hour show at the Hollywood Bowl by Mariachi USA in their 23rd annual show there. Featured were mariachis from Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Los Angeles. In-

cluded in the performance were outstandingly beautiful production numbers including the Mariachi USA Ballet. The show closed with an awe-inspiring spectacular fireworks show, synchronized to “Viva Mexico” and “La Negra,” performed by the entire ensemble of Mariachi USA. And that’s what makes this yearly performance in L.A. the premier mariachi music festival in the United States. It was beautiful to see the musical form elevated to a new level of entertainment. Indeed, this month’s topic is about the inspired and inspirational among us. And on that note, it’s time for--as Norma Adamo says--TAN TAN!◆

Courtesy Photo

By dr. neo gutierrez

Meanness had no finer moment Cinderella’s evil step-sisters filled the theater with hilarity in the Laredo Theater Guild International’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The two divas were recklessly funny and convincing of their pitfalls and strengths. They are pictured onstage at the Texas A&M International University Fine and Performing Arts theater. W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

By salo Otero Salo Otero is the director of marketing for the South Texas Food Bank. He can be reached at sotero@ southexasfoodbank.org or by calling 956-726-3120.

By SALO OTERO South Texas Food Bank Marketing Director


he South Texas Food Bank Empty Bowls VI, a major fundraiser for the mission of feeding the hungry, will be held Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Laredo Energy Arena. The H-E-B grocery chain, which helped launch the South Texas Food Bank (STFB) in 1989, will be recognized. The event also features a concert by the 1960s-70s musical sensation Creedence Clearwater Revisited, formerly Creedence Clearwater Revival. Creedence Clearwater Revisited started as Creedence Clearwater Revival in the 1960s as a distinctive swamp rock sound that gained a worldwide following and numerous gold and multi-platinum singles and albums. The group disbanded in 1972, but longtime friends Stu Cook and Doug Cosmo launched Creedence Clearwater Revisted in 1995, playing 100 shows per year. They perform the classics like “Susie Q,” “Lodi,” “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” Cook and Cosmo have found the right players who include singerrhythm guitarist John Tristao, formerly with the band People; and Kurt Griffey, a guitarist song writer, producer and performer who toured with the likes of the Eagles, Foreigner, Moody Blues, Wings, Lynyrd Skynryd, Santana, and Journey. Talented multi-instrumentalist Steve Gunner rounds out the group. South Texas Food Bank board members Anna Benavides Galo and Kevin Romo are Empty Bowls VI coW W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

South Texas Food Bank

STFB’s Empty Bowls VI honors H-E-B, features Creedence Clearwater Revisited chairs. Romo said, “We have been blessed with Laredo’s support of Empty Bowls for the past five years, and we’re asking again on behalf of the 25,000 families we serve per month. It will be a night to enjoy a great evening for a most worthy cause.” Cindy Liendo Espinoza, STFB chief development officer, noted, “Creedence Clearwater has caused a lot of stir. People remember and love their music. We’re hoping for a good concert crowd.” Sponsorship level floor tables for 10 that include a meal, concert and access to silent auction are $20,000 (Diamond); $10,000 (Platinum); $5,000 (Gold); $2,500 (Silver); $1,000 (Bronze). Individual tickets are $100 each. Concert only tickets will be on sale at the LEA box office for $25, $15, and $10. The concert starts at 8 p.m. For information call 324-2432 or 7632107. H-E-B has been the key partner in the STFB success that started as the Laredo-Webb County Food Bank and now covers an eight-county area from Rio Grande City to Del Rio, distributing supplemental food to 25,000 families, 7,000 elderly, 6,000 children, and 500 veterans per month. “Since day one H.E.B. has been by our side,” Alfonso Casso, STFB executive director said. Danny Flores, an administrator for H-E-B from the San Antonio office, will accept the honor. H-E-B, celebrating 80 years in Laredo, led the product donor list in 2011 with over one million pounds. The STFB distributed 9.7 million pounds in 2011 following a record 12.4 million pounds in 2010. Laredo H-E-B store director Gaby DeLeon is on the STFB board.

Also due at the event is native Laredoan Eddie García, a longtime H-E-B employee, who started with the grocery chain in Laredo and has been instrumental in the H-E-B mission of assisting food banks across the state. García has been dubbed as “Mr. Food Bank” at national Feeding America conventions. WAREHOUSE NOW INSULATED Thanks to the generosity of the Beaumont Foundation of America, the STFB warehouse underwent a much-needed improvement – insulation. “The grant we received from the Beaumont Foundation has been a

real blessing that is already having very positive results” said Alfonso Casso, STFB executive director. “We are extermely grateful for their generosity. The insulation has reduced the temperature for our employees working in the warehouse, making it a safer work environment for them. Our employees report that it is much more comfortable to work in the warehouse. It will also increase the shelf life of the merchandise stored in the warehouse – high heat temperatures often made the cans of some products bloat up. In this summer heat, lowering the temperature for our food products and employees is crucial. Both objectives have been met.” ◆

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The Texas Higher Education Journal has named Texas A&M International University the State’s number one public institution of higher education for producing the largest number of Latino graduates, 94% in 2011. TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck said the selection is a ringing endorsement of the University and its mission. “This reminds us once again of the tremendous importance of higher education and the special mission and service that TAMIU provides to our region. In addition to working daily for the privilege of delivering that mission, we take enormous pride in making real the dream of those who helped found, develop and sustain TAMIU, and the students who realize their dreams here,” Dr. Keck said. Other Texas universities included in The Journal’s top five listing were:  UT-El Paso (5 – 77.8%), Sul Ross State University-Rio Grande (4 – 80.4%), UT-Brownsville (3, 89.3%) and UT-Pan American (2, 90.8%). The Journal based its selection on recently released data provided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) 2012 Higher Education Almanac. Keck noted that this is the latest

in a flurry of special recognitions accorded the regional University. “TAMIU has been singled out by CNN as being in the “Top Ten of Most Affordable US Colleges” and listed by The New York Times as having the lowest net price. The Chronicle of Higher Education named TAMIU one of its “Fastest-Growing Campuses,” while GI Jobs awarded TAMIU a coveted “Military Friendly School” designation. Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranked TAMIU 36th in the nation among top bachelor’s degree producers for Hispanics,” Keck said. Last month, research findings by the U.S. Department of Education confirmed that among public, four-year or above universities, TAMIU has one of the nation’s lowest net prices. While the national average net price is $10,471, TAMIU’s net price (the price of attendance charged to students after considering all grant and scholarship aid) is $1,255. TAMIU Fall enrollment is underway now. Fall 2012 classes start Thursday, Aug. 23. The Fall Schedule and additional information on deadlines and other information is available at schedule.tamiu.edu For more information on registration, contact the Office of the University Registrar at registrar@ tamiu.edu or call 326-2250. ◆

Can’t find a hard copy? Go to

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Don’t miss a beat. Bobby Batey and John Sabas Perez are pictured in rehearsals for beat. a play on words which opened July 26 and runs through July 29 at the Laredo Center for the Arts. The play is directed by siblings Chibbi and Julia Orduña. For tickets, call (956) 725-1715. Batey portrays poet Allen Ginsberg, and Perez plays the roles of Neal Cassady and Luther Nichols.

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

By STEVE HARMON LareDOS Contributor

Courtesy Photo

TAMIU named State’stop higher ed degree producer for Latinos

The shady venue of the Farmers Market Vendors and market shoppers enjoyed a cool morning in the comforting shade of Jarvis Plaza. These old friends found a moment to catch up and visit. Kudos for bringing their own tote bags. W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

 Continued FROM page 50 and lacked some emotion on the parts of both Bale and Hardy. Perhaps because it was the most anticipated scene of the film, at least for me, that I expected a bit more. After a grueling process, Wayne recovers from his injuries and escapes the prison to return to Gotham, enlisting Kyle, Blake, Tate, Gordon and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), to help liberate the city and stop the fusion bomb before it explodes. The bomb is defused. Batman is presumed to be dead and praised as a hero, while Wayne is presumed killed in the riots. Critics are praising The Dark Knight Rises for the casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Not since Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Catwoman in 1992’s Batman Returns has another leading actress been able exude such sex appeal without distracting the audience from her role as both a viable villain and an ally to Batman. Hathaway’s


Catwoman is on equal footing with her male counterparts, unlike Bale’s previous female co-stars. Nolan not only managed to depict Gotham City’s caped crusader true to form, but he also surpassed the “merely a comic book movie adaptation” status with The Dark Knight Rises.The film ties closely into the current Occupy Movement, the international protest against corporate greed and social and economic inequality. Despite the film’s slow start, unclear plot, and too many new character introductions, it manages to culminate in an astonishing climax that lived up to its deafening hype. Despite the Aurora, Colorado shootings at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the film managed to take in $162 million its opening weekend. The cost of the film’s production was an estimated at $250 million and was shot in parts of the United States, Scotland, England, and India. ◆

 Continued FROM page 41 over to the Water Street area where the old church was located; Arnulfo Santos of Alfredo Santos Grocery used to support a yearly gathering there. I showed my friend where the old Duncan House used to be and where Holding Institute had originally been located. I explained how the stone wall around the campus had built by the W.P.A. Then, in considering her youth, I had to explain what the W.P.A. had been, who F.D.R. was, and how the Great Depression had lasted in Texas until the end of World

War II. After watching the performance of The Odd Couple and as we were leaving LCC, I was struck by all the changes to the old campus: the new beautiful theater, the new Music and Fine Arts Building, the new multi-storied training center for selected vocations, and the metal fence at the back of the campus. University Hall has become Memorial Hall. My old office has become part of an administrative office. I appreciate the changes, but I relish my memories of my old neighbors and my living in “the last house in Texas.” ◆

Write a letter to the publisher. meg@laredosnews.com

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Maverick Ranch Notes

By bebe & sissy fenstermaker


Blessed rains graced the ranch

bit over an inch of rain graced this ranch and farm day before yesterday. The old bois d’arc trees in the yard lifted up their leaves to soldier on. A puddle of water collected in the dry creek bed, eliminating the turkeys’ daily trek to the water trough at the barn. Rabbits, squirrels, deer, and birds didn’t rush to meet me on the road; rain had filled their water tub halfway. The temperature stayed below 100 degrees for the first time in days. Early this morning, 7-6-12, there was a golden-cheeked warbler in the yard getting a shower from the hose. The rain has given them what they need to stay a little longer this year. A big birthday has come and peach cobbler stood in for the cake. Getting enough peaches for it was touch and go. We had gone peach-picking in Fredericksburg two weeks earlier and restraint went out the window after tasting the harvest. I managed to keep about a dozen untouched in the ice box. They weren’t enough so Sissy contributed some she found at the grocery store as did I. Neither bunch had flavor, only juice, so the Fredericksburg peaches had to carry the lot. A neighbor had given us something called peaches but the tiny things reminded me of apricots picked in Ft. Davis when we were little. The townsfolk stripped their trees all at once rather than letting the fruit ripen. Of course that meant they could make their jam at one time but it was straight sugar without taste, absolutely nothing compared to Mama’s tree-ripened jam. The cobbler was almost like Grandma’s, but I

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deferred to a friend’s wishes and did not make it with whole, unpeeled, unseeded peaches. That’s right, Grandma said whole peaches made an important flavor difference to real peach cobbler. Its simplicity certainly got a cobbler made pronto and often. And yes, the crust is always from scratch. There is a new boy on the Ranch named for a town near Oaxaca. Juchipil whirls around with his sister (now named Celaya in defense). Celaya lost her sister when she, mother and older sister went south to Jourdanton to live. Celaya was heartbroken but ta-da! – two days later little Juchi hit the ground. He appears to be a claybank, all light red with a tan nose. We’ll see how his color develops since his grandfather is brindle, his pa has spots, dots, and color and ma is all over red with grayish legs. There’s a new start to CoSA city council meetings these days. Not having attended for a year or so it came without warning. As meeting time neared everyone was quietly talking, on the dais and off, when suddenly the PA system blared. I thought someone was experimenting with a microphone. Instead, a movie preview crescendo somewhere between “Bonanza” “and The Big Country” silenced the room while a video began pro ball team introductions: “City Councilman______ from District 1!”, City Councilman _______, District 2!”, and so forth. Gone is mere gaveling a meeting to order, by the time this finished nobody was talking or walking, just a-gaping. The mayor, skipping no beat, sailed right into the agenda. – Bebe Fenstermaker

 Continued FROM page 41 system and wildlife habitat. Children learned the use of binoculars, compasses, and field guides. The third camp, “Aqua Force,” ran July 30 to August 3 and explored water conveyance, the force of water, irrigation, and filtration. “Zapped,” the fourth camp from August 6 to 10 completes the series in an exploration of electricity. Topics include lightning, basic circuitry, naturally occurring sources of electricity, and alternative energy. ISLA is a non-profit organization that provides and encourages STEM programming in the Laredo area. The group strives to make science, technology, engineering and math

available to the public through afterschool programming, summer camps, and professional development, bringing together the experience and commitment of local informal science educators to improve the quality and quantity of STEM learning opportunities. The ISLA summer camps, along with camps staged by the Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC), and the Lamar Bruni Vergara Science Center evidence a positive trend in providing meaningful, pro-environment, science-based summer learning experiences for children. For information on ISLA and the last camp of the series, write info@ wowsciencelaredo.org ◆

www.laredosnews.com  Continued FROM page 47 very moist. Forecasters then expected Fay to become a hurricane after crossing Florida, but it never did. And in August 2007, probably one of the most baffling systems in memory, Tropical Storm Erin, made landfall just north of Corpus Christi as a tropical depression on August 16, with winds of 35 mph and a pressure of 1006 mb. Erin weakened into a remnant low by the middle part of August 17. Despite waters in the Gulf in the upper 80°s, Erin was never able to strengthen over water. As the remnants of Erin moved into Oklahoma on August 19, the system suddenly strengthened and achieved its highest sustained winds and lowest central pressure. Radar from Oklahoma showed Erin with an eye, eye wall-like features and convective spiral bands as it moved over Oklahoma City. Winds of over 50 mph were observed at the surface with central pressure down to 995 mb, both of which meant Erin had become stronger over land than

she had been over water. Analysis of the system reveals that the strengthening of Erin over land was due to complex interaction of the remnant circulation, its attendant warm, moist air mass with ambient environment conditions across the region, and the ascent from a mid-level shortwave trough. As midlevel height gradient increased, southerly flow increased and a large amount of destabilization occurred. Despite its appearance and tropical characteristics, NHC specialists simply referred to it as a “low” – meaning a low pressure system. Dr. Richard Knabb, Hurricane Specialist at the NHC, in his final analysis of TS Erin, reasoned that the system did not maintain itself long enough over Oklahoma to be reclassified as a “tropical system,” though many do feel it was an “inland tropical storm.” This year, forecasters expect a near normal hurricane season, with 9 to 15 named storms. ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


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Ghost Ranch: artist’s paradise, spiritual retreat By CORDELIA BARRERA LareDOS Contributor “If you want to make a call or send a text, you’ll have better luck at the Visitor’s Center, about half a mile down the dirt road,” said the goddess in the multicolored huipil. I was standing – phone in hand – on one leg and reaching precariously toward the redrock cliff known as Chimney Rock. I had seen my friend Cristina successfully send a text this way. I was not having her luck. The goddesses were winding down. They were supposed to have left the day before, and vacated our rooms, but their retreat had been so productive several of them decided to stay a bit longer. That’s how things move at the Ghost Ranch – slowly, naturally, spontaneously. Ghost Ranch, also known as “Rancho de Los Brujos” for the countless bones once found in this high desert country, is located in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. It’s a stunning 21,000-acre retreat and education center. I spent an exhilarating week here this past June at the Las Dos Brujas Writing Workshop, taught by some very distinguished authors: Cristina García, Denise Chavez, Chris Abani, and Juan Felipe Herrera. But things at Ghost Ranch are so unpretentious, so laid back (no doors are locked at night) that the famous names, events, and goings on are all kind of fluid and seamless.


The American artist Georgia O’Keefe famously helped to carve out a significant place for women painters here with the work she produced from 1929 to 1949. In 1940, she purchased a house on the ranch property. The varicolored cliffs of Ghost Ranch inspired some of her most celebrated landscapes, like those she painted of the Pedernal, the narrow mesa just south of Lake Abiquiu, or the Plaza Blanca cliffs, the spectacular white rock formation she could see from her window. Ghost Ranch’s stunning redrock scenery also draws the entertainment industry to film here regularly. Popular films shot here include: Cowboys & Aliens (2011); No Country for Old Men (2007); City Slickers (1991); and Silverado (1985), among others. Fossils found at Ghost Ranch date to the Triassic era, which began 220 million years ago. The on-site museum (admis-

sion is free) is named for amateur paleontologist Ruth Hall, wife of the first resident Ghost Ranch director, Jim Hall. The Museum of Paleontology is known worldwide as the location of the articulated fossils of the Coelophysis, the State Fossil of New Mexico. Newly renovated exhibits also highlight other Triassic animals from 210 million years ago, including the recent discoveries of Tawa, a new species of small carnivorous dinosaur, and Effigia, the archosaur species the discoverers named Okeeffeae (O’Keeffe’s Ghost). The 21,000 acres that comprise Ghost Ranch were part of a land grant (originally called “Piedra Lumbre”) to Pedro Martin Serrano from the King of Spain in 1766. The local name, “El Rancho de los Brujos,” grew out of the many tales of ghosts and legends – mostly surrounding hangings –in the Ranch’s history. In 1955, Arthur and Pheobe Pack

donated Ghost Ranch to the Presbyterian Church. Since then, the Church and the National Ghost Ranch Foundation have built the programs, facilities, and grounds into a nationally known sacred space and study and conference center. Ghost Ranch is about an hour’s drive northwest of Santa Fe, and day hikers are welcome; admission is free. During my stay, I felt I was a part of a unique artist’s community; the staff and volunteers were always friendly and knowledgeable. Many of the cabins are very affordable and feature clean, communal bathrooms; others are private. There is a library, a cafeteria, a trading post, a pool, several conference/meeting rooms, and plenty of outdoor adventure tours. There are no TVs, and no radios or phones on the ranch. While I was there, about 60 college students from all over the country were gearing up for a summer of volunteer work at the ranch. At the heart of the Ghost Ranch experience is the individual and communal desire to create an environment for deep self-exploration, where life and our time on this planet is sacred. The ranch is open year-round and hosts hundreds of workshops, retreats, and family and youth programs that, at their heart, provide opportunities for those who value learning and education as a means for individual and social transformation. For more information go to: www. ghostranch.org. ◆

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Dana and Joseph Crabtree portrayed the King and Queen in Laredo Theatre Guild International’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella which at the Texas A&M International University Fine and Performing Arts theater.

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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

The King and Queen

Summer salad demo Val and Chris Perez of Caffe Dolce are pictured at the excellent cooking demo they conducted at the July 21 Farmers Market – transforming simple ingredients into a delicious salad dressing.


Laredo Stories


Sofia Cardenas de Zavala constantly prayed for rain

By ARMANDO X. LóPEZ LareDOS Contributor

the endeavors of her kin, whether it was her children’s athletic activities at Nixon or later, those of her grandchildren at Nixon, United South, and LBJ high schools. “Mother was a loving person who enjoyed life to the fullest and who loved to share her joy and happiness with everyone else,” said her youngest son Eddie. She was happiest when she was surrounded by her husband, seven children – (San Juana Z. Hernandez,


Courtesy Photo


here is a scene repeated many times in this border city. A strong supportive mother, wife, and grandmother passes away, and her funeral services evoke an outpouring of love and support that is the fitting final testament to the impact that this steady and constant woman had on the world around her. And the figurative rain that she prays for arrives in a gentle storm of friends and loved ones, all there to comfort those she leaves behind. There were torrents aplenty in the funeral services for Sofia Cardenas de Zavala, who passed away on July 12 at the age of 72. Nestled in Las Lomas de Laredo is a small Catholic Church that is aptly named Holy Family. Back in the 1970s families from the area organized to have the Corpus Christi Diocese recognize the growing neighborhood of believers who were raising solid families in this modest neighborhood. The Zavala family was one of these families, and the church became the hub of their religious activities. Mrs. Zavala, and her husband of 56 years and master mason Juan Manuel Zavala, were the foundation of a strong family of four sons and four daughters, most if not all members of the congregation at their church where they came to hear their mother sing in the vibrant church choir as she joined other noble ladies dressed in their hopeful white blouses. This was a mother and grandmother who found time to support

workers. With Mrs. Zavala at his side he sometimes got a gentle tap on his arm if his enthusiasm got the best of him. “Another legacy Mom left behind besides family unity was friendship. To her, each and every person was to be treated with love, dignity, and respect,” Eddie said. If a Zavala was playing sports, Grandma and Grandpa as well as the extended family was there. All those memories and many more, were on the minds of the beneficiaries of her

Juan Manuel Zavala and Sofia Cardenas de Zavala Juan Manuel Zavala, Jr., Rosario Z. Estevis, Niria Z. Estevis, Jesus Martin Zavala, Norberto Zavala, and Eddie Zavala – and their spouses, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and her many friends. Her husband could strike up a conversation with the most polished politicians or the most humble

support at the funeral ritual on this hot Laredo morning. “She did everything in her reach to always have the family together, whether it was at a family gathering, birthday party, or any other occasion. Many times, she’d find any reason to celebrate, only to know that we were all together as a fam-

ily,” Eddie continued. “She would always tell us that the best legacy parents could leave behind was that their children would know the true meaning of family unity, something she lived by day in and day out,” he said. And while it is difficult to say that a funeral mass can be inspiring, this one was. Instead of wearing the traditional black, her grandchildren and many friends wore white, a sign that their faith outweighed their grief. The gesture was also an homage to her place in the church choir. The outpouring of friends and family filled the church beyond its capacity. And as members of the funeral procession came into the room, younger and abler attendants gave up their seats to those needing to sit, another fitting testament to the good manners inspired by her example of everyday cheer. Her son Norberto demonstrated the profound effect that her example had on her family when I ask him if he had words regarding his mother’s essence. The reticent son welled up with tears and then showed me his arms covered with goose pimples. “Mira, nomas pienso de ella y me pongo asi” he said. Eddie asked that I mention that his mother loved the South Texas monte. “Mom would beam with happiness when she was at the ranch and she saw the cattle roaming around and when the stock ponds were filled with water.” As I write this on a late Wednesday afternoon there is a storm brewing outside my window, promising to bring the rain that Mrs. Zavala prayed for so often – testament that her prayers brought nourishment to those around her. ◆ LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I



India is always with me By HEATHER HERSCHAP LareDOS Contributor


ndia and my experiences there are always with me. Some days I miss it more than others, but I always miss it. When I see sunsets, I am reminded of people I danced with when the sun was setting. When it rains here I think of friends who pushed their manual wheelchairs to a store in stormy weather to get us snacks. When I am at a book signing I think of kids in India who play cricket with me, who ride in my wheelchair with me, and on go the memories. In the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2011, I was a volunteer at ProVision Asia, which helps the disabled community in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. I was in the middle of my seminary training and at a church service in Waco. I was really, really, sleepy and a little bored; so I remember asking God to give me something outside of myself and my sleepiness. At that point, in the spring of 2004, God whispered just one word, “India.” I did not know what that meant. I did not know anything about India or its culture. So, I began with prayer, lots of prayer. Then I started making phone calls about mission opportunities in India. After that reading, research, and learning about India’s culture. I am still learning. I flew to India for

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the first time in June 2005. There were five years between the second and third trip because I was not in seminary anymore. So, it was not as easy to find people who wanted to go overseas to help me with physical needs. There are always challenges when one is a wheelchair user and a traveler. For example, this last trip there were challenges with where we stayed. In previous trips, I always stayed in back of the ProVision office, but this last time the office had moved to a smaller space without living quarters. Therefore, my team of four, the biggest I have ever had, and a team of three American physical therapy interns stayed in three different locations in Bangalore. Each time I moved, I had to get used to the different levels of accommodations: the number of steps, stairs, and smaller bathrooms that were not big enough for my wheelchair. In general, the travel there is always the worst part – the second half of the trip from Europe to India. This is where my muscles start to get sore and jet lag starts to kick in because it is a 20-hour flight, and I do not have the ability to stand or walk. I am sitting in the spot for one flight, then a three-hour layover, a switch of planes – more sitting. Once I arrive, it’s all worth it because I see 20 or 30 of the people I met on past trips. They are there to greet me with flowers and candies. A few days later the job

starts. I counsel clients when they are usually there for some other service like job training. I get a “referral” by a co-worker and sometimes they just come up to talk to me on their own before or after their meeting with the other staff. Besides helping me with my needs, my teams over three trips taught English to a few mothers of clients and did office work, while others helped with a government home for boys and local international schools. Some days are slow and others very busy. A busy day would be considered a slow day in the U.S. A busy day in India would mean seven to eight clients, while a slow day would maybe mean no clients, which allows me time to help the other staff members with their work. For example, I help the communication coordinator with newsletters, blogs, etc., on www. provisionasia.com Or I would entertain kids who were getting physical therapy, so as to distract them from the actual exercise. On my last visit to India in 2011, ProVision Asia took several trips up to villages. On these trips, we met with students to get measurements for their wheelchairs, crutches, or leg braces. I would talk to the people while we waited. I only know a few words in three or four languages of the 17 official languages in India (almost every state has its own language), so I used translators a lot. Each of the Indian staff speaks at least four languages, not including Eng-


lish, so they would offer to help me translate if the clients didn’t know English. We went out to the villages about every two weeks. I have noticed whether at a village or at an office, people with disabilities just want to be heard. I guess that’s the case, generally speaking. Handicapped individuals just want to be heard. Indian society generally ignores persons with mental or physical challenges. They are considered part of the untouchable caste. These people are outcasts from the other groups in the caste system. Technically, the caste system is against the law; however, it is still embedded in the culture. The office tries to have social events every once in a while, so they can interact with others with or without disabilities. There are events such as the Bible Olympics, which is similar to Vacation Bible School activities combined with sport activities. And there is “World Disability Day,” kind of like the Paralympics for Indians in December. I would like someday to see it. There is also a “10-K Run” that happens in late May. Most of the participants have polio, which has been eradicated in the U.S. by vaccines. In India, however, there are misconceptions about the vaccine, so not a lot of people end up getting vaccinated. The office has Play Group, which encourages family interactions with disabled offspring. Until recently, most of them were abandoned because of their disability. This last trip, however, I saw more intact families despite the disability that their offspring has. My team and I would answer questions from families who were raising a child with a disability, twice a month at Friendship Circle. The Q&A sessions began when my team arrived in 2011. Most of the questions begin with, “What can we expect when W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

our disabled child…?” In 2011 my team and I also formed a school for five to ten year olds. This was very important to ProVision Asia because prior to this they provided scholarships, and still do, to students who had disabilities – scholarships for schools that specialized in each of these disabilities: blind and deaf, cerebral palsy (my disability), polio, etc. I would speak at these specialized schools to give them a motivational talk. I was sort of like a cheerleader in a wheelchair cheering the team on to victory. Disabled students aren’t allowed to go to mainstream schools. Between my three trips, I spoke to about 20 schools. Education in general is free in India unless you need to go to a specialized school. It was very important for ProVision Asia to start a small school for the disabled. Now they educate 13 students for a little over half a day five days a week. The education is completely free. They also provide transportation to and from the office for school. The language spoken there is Kannada and English. Much as it is in the United States, my favorite hobby in India is eating. On the weekends, we were invited to the home of a staff member or a client for dinner or lunch. Eating there is not just a mealtime. It is a social event. It’s how families show their hospitality and their heart. It is how they show the guest they are special because they serve their best foods to the guests. Sometimes the host will serve the guest first to ensure they get the first helpings. Sometimes they are just watching me eat and that can be a little awkward. On my first trip I had a woman tell me, “Small bites, Heather, small bites,” so it would not insult the host by not trying everything. An Indian meal can take up an

entire afternoon. This is not only because of conversations, but because they serve several courses. I think this is the way of implicitly saying thank you, we’re glad you’re here and came all this way to encourage and motivate others. No thanks are necessary, because I think ministry is usually a two-way street. I had a hard time choosing pictures for this article because none of them capture what I consider the essence of India. The things I remember the most were hardly captured on film… moments like when I held an orphan girl on my lap for days, when we visited the Promise Land Orphanage in Salem, Tamil Nadu on our trip in 2005. The pictures do not show the long talks I had in sessions with two families that have more than one sibling with different handicaps in 2006. They do not tell the reader I have seen the beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra, and that I have heard the beautiful voices of AIDS and HIV victims praising God in Pondicherry on our trip in 2011. The pictures do not show the big and little sacrifices my teams had to make for the greater good. Instead the pictures show the colorful and bright culture of India, the adventure and zeal of the people, and their hearts and hope for a better future. (Laredoan Heather Herschap is a children’s author. She graduated from Alexander High School and earned a degree in psychology at Baylor University. At George W. Truett Seminary in Waco, she completed a Master’s in Divinity. She initially visited India for a school internship while at Truett and fell deeply in love with its people and its culture, returning for two subsequent visits. She was ordained in October of 2010. In 2011, she published her first children’s book called My Friends and I.) ◆ LareDOS I J U LY 2012 I


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Profile for Maria Eugenia Guerra

LareDOS July Issue  

Ethics commission, Sister Cities Festival, Peña Nieto, LITE's beat. a play on words, "Pureza de Sangre,

LareDOS July Issue  

Ethics commission, Sister Cities Festival, Peña Nieto, LITE's beat. a play on words, "Pureza de Sangre,