Issuu on Google+

LOCALLY OWNED

“Imagine trying to live without air. Now imagine something worse.” — Amy Reed, Clean A JOURNAL OF THE BORDERLANDS MARCH 2012

Est. 1994

Vol. XVII No. 15 64 PAGES

@lareDOSnews

LareDOS Newspaper

ADDICTION

Falling through the cracks: heartbreak and a spiral of despair

Sometimes I understand how powerless I am — the person who brought her into the world, the person who nurtured her, the one person who should be able to save her. She was a happy child — lots of love, dancing lessons, all the sweetness in the world. Never would I have imagined she would end up on drugs and dancing in a club frequented by truckers “


You’ve got options! Alejandra Iniguez

Don’t put your future on hold anymore! LCC now offers classes seven days a week.

LCC student

" ! "  "  " 

Register Today!

 ! For Declared Majors

By appointment only. Instructional Offices

For Undeclared Majors

By appointment or walk-in. Student Success Center

 ! 10 am - 3 pm

Memorial Hall 125

Laredo Community College

      

Ft. McIntosh956.721.5109 South956.794.4110

2 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

www.laredo.edu

lccpalominos W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


SEVEN GOOD REASONS TO CHOOSE DR. RAFATI’S RADIOLOGY CLINIC OF LAREDO

£ Ó Î { x È

°ÊYou
save
time,
money,
and
regrets.
Call
us
 for
a
price
quote.

OUR PRICE LIST

°
No
appointment
necessary.
Just
walk
in
at
 your
convenience.

Our philosophy at Radiology Clinics of Laredo is to practice medicine in a manner that involves complete disclosure of our opinion and our charges. In this spirit, I decided to publish my fee schedule, and I urge others to follow suit.

°Ê
Immediate
results.
You
walk
out
with
com‐ plete
knowledge
of
your
exam
results °
You
can
always
consult
Dr.
Rafati
free
of
 charge. °
Second
opinion
is
always
free
of
charge.

°
Dr.
Rafati
has
35
years
of
experience,
 knowledge,
and
common
sense.
We
saved











 thousands
of
patients
the
horror
of
unnecessary
 surgery.

Ç

°ÊThe
last
reason
is
very,
very
important.
If
 your
doctor
tells
you
not
to
go
to
Dr.
Rafati’s
 clinic,
you
should
immediately
go
to
see
Dr.
Ra‐ fati
and
at
the
same
time
you
should
look
for
a
 new
doctor.
Many
doctors
are
mad
at
us
be‐ cause
we
put
our
patients
.irst.
Remem‐ ber,
you
have
the
right
of
choice.

Δ MRI Δ CAT SCAN Δ MAMMOGRAMS Δ BONE DENSITY Δ SONOGRAMS

$400.00 $250.00 $125.00 $125.00 $150.00 TO $175.00 Δ STOMACH OR INTESTINE EXAMS $200.00 Δ SKULL AND SINUSES $ 90.00 Δ BONES $ 85.00 Δ CHEST X-RAYS $ 80.00 Δ DOPPLER EXAMS $150.00 These prices include the x-ray, the interpretation, and consultation with the patient on what his/her exam shows and what to do next.

RADIOLOGY
CLINICS
OF
LAREDO 5401 Springfield • (956) 718-0092 W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I

M A RCH 2012 I

3


Santa María Journal

My life as a Cat Stevens song, two actually, before he was Yusuf Islam and when though hard-headed, I was tender-hearted

By MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA

I

t might as well be Buda, Texas 1973. I’m at a window on a ranch washing a preposterous number of organically raised eggs — brown ones, white ones, and the Araucana’s greens. Back then, the music of Tea for the Tillerman, one of Cat Steven’s best albums, filled the rooms of our little house that was nestled in a copse of old oaks near Onion Creek. I’d just come in from the henhouse to wash more organically raised eggs than a family could eat. Eggs again, same vinyl, but it’s not 1973. The window from which I look out today is at our ranch near San Ygnacio, many years after my betrothed and I lived our lives as back to the land-ers

and happily anticipated the birth of our first and only child. As I methodically wash the eggs and let the lyrics blow out the windows and into the monte, I’m thinking that there might have been a note of prophecy in those lyrics, and though the message was lost on me then, I’m catching Cat’s drift now. It wouldn’t have mattered back then, because when you are crazy in love you haven’t an iota of the sense that love can become something else, or that you might grow into someone else. It’s been a lifetime pattern, I see now, that by rote I feign surprise at endings, even though I’m smart enough to see them coming and because in all likelihood, I was a 50 percent contributor — something you don’t readily

PUBLISHER

María Eugenia Guerra meg@laredosnews.com STAFF WRITER

Mariela Rodríguez

Read at www.laredosnews.com

SALES

María Eugenia Guerra meg@laredosnews.com

Macedonio Martínez CIRCULATION, BILLING & SUBSCRIPTIONS

meg@laredosnews.com LAYOUT/DESIGN

design@laredosnews.com

CONTRIBUTORS

Dr. Barbara Baker Cordelia Barrera Tricia Cortez Bebe Fenstermaker Sissy Fenstermaker Denise Ferguson Neo Gutierrez Steve Harmon Santos Jimenez Henri Kahn

Cathy Kazen Armando X. López José Antonio López Salo Otero Evelyn June Perez José Ramirez Jennie Reed Lem Londos Railsback

admit when you are young. The vinyl on the turntable makes a scratchy hiss that dates the music and the age of the album, and Cat Stevens is singing: “I’m looking for a hard headed woman, one who will make me do my best, and if I find my hard headed woman, ooh, I know the rest of my life will be blessed, yes, yes, yes.” My betrothed got his hard-headed woman, albeit one with a tender heart. I’m pretty sure he’d find a word other than “blessed” to recount the sum total of our time together, as certainly would I. Blessed, however, was the birth of our son George, whose first word was “tractor” and the plural he fashioned as we drove past the International Harvester dealership in East Austin, “tracterla.” His second word was “inertia.” First things first. Giving his parents and his toys names came later. My life as a Cat Stevens flashback continues on the ranch in SY with a

three-minute cut called “Wild World” — “Now that I’ve lost everything to you, you say you want to start something new, and it’s breaking my heart in two you’re leaving, baby I’m grieving. But if you wanna leave, take good care, hope you have a lot of nice things to wear, but then a lot of nice things turn bad out there.” Was I wishing him well or hoping that nice things would go bad? Whatever. That pot of tea evaporated so long ago. As it turns out, hard-headed, tender-hearted has been a good way to navigate through this life. There’s little I would change, except that I might have known the real value of kindness much earlier in my life. My work is done here — 48 clean eggs are in their cartons. I lift the needle from the turnstile and slip the album back into its sleeve and cover, wondering absently what other portents I may have missed in the massive stack of old albums next to the turntable. ◆

Write a Letter to the Editor meg@laredosnews.com

4 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Runners and walkers of all ages took part in the 4th Annual Mercurio Martinez IV Memorial 5K Run hosted by the Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts. Sponsored by Teens in the Driver Seat, the race began at St. Peter’s Plaza, made its way through downtown, and finished at its point of origin. Proceeds from the run went to the VMT Teens in the Driver Seat Organization and the Teens in the Driver Seat Mercurio Martinez IV Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Santos Jimenez/LareDOS

Photo courtesy Mark Webber

At the 4th Annual Mercurio Martinez IV Memorial 5K

Baloons the color of Huelga The annual march honoring the work of Cesar Chavez for justice and human rights culminated in San AgustĂ­n Plaza with the release of black and red balloons.

we have them at...

RAMIREZ TIRE CENTER W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

5


Let this election be about you and this county we love and call home. Together, we can build a leaner, cleaner and greener county government.

Fiscal Conservatism

It is time for Precinct Three to elect someone who will begin the process of removing political favors from county government and who will handle our taxdollars and the county budget just like each one of us balances the checkbook for our home or business.

Economic Development Honest County Government:

It is time for Precinct Three to elect someone who will begin the process of removing political favors from county government and who will handle our tax-dollars and the county budget just like each one of us balances the checkbook for our home or business.

Don’t elect me as your next politician; elect me your next community leader. With your help, we will write one of the greatest chapters of sustainable economic growth in Webb County’s history, one that will make our county a place that our children will want to stay, work, and play in. Now is our time to be the economic giant of South Texas.

County Employee Protection

Under my leadership no county employee within Precinct 3 will be demoted, promoted, fired, or hired, unless for a justified reason, regardless of whether they support me or not. 

Values

I was raised in a single parent household by my mother, .BSÓB&VHFOJB(VFSSB XIPQBDLFECPYFTJOBO"VTUJO warehouse at $2.75 an hour to clothe me, feed me, and educate me. She would later become vice-president of that company. My mother is now a journalist and a fierce BEWPDBUFGPSUIFFOWJSPONFOUBOEQVCMJTIFSPG-BSF%04 .Z HSBOEGBUIFS +PT� .BSÓB (VFSSB QSPVEMZ TFSWFE IJT country as an Army Air Corps bombardier in World War ** )JT CSPUIFS  NZ HSFBU VODMF "SNFOHPM (VFSSB  BMTP served his country in that war, and later served his community as a Webb County commissioner. Our beloved DPVTJO +PF " (VFSSB  UIF GPSNFS -BSFEP $JUZ $PVODJM member, embodied commitment to service to family, community, and country. I am a 9th generation Texan on my mother’s side of the family and an 8th generation Texan on my father’s side. I come from hard-working people, and I never lacked for examples of what is to be gained when you invest yourself in your work.

Education

*NBHSBEVBUFPG;BQBUB)JHI4DIPPM*XPSLFENZXBZ UISPVHI DPMMFHF  BUUFOEJOH -$$ BOE HSBEVBUJOH GSPN TAMIU with a degree in political science. In the same NPOUIUIBUNZXJGF3PTB&MJBBOE*CFHBOPVSMJWFTUPgether, I started law studies at St. Mary’s University.

Family

My wife and I have been blessed with two amazing, lovJOHDIJMESFO‰&NJMZ  BOE+PZDF"NBOEB   I am a father, a husband, active citizen, and a lawyer. I know that what I tend with my heart, my mind, and my hands, gives back, grows, and bears fruit.

6 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

Public Safety

Tough on Crime I worked for several years as a prosecutor for Webb County, and I fought for justice and I convicted criminals. During my tenure as a prosecutor, I brought hundreds of criminals to justice in order to keep our streets safe. I’m the only candidate in this race with significant criminal law enforcement experience, and I will be tough on crime.

Community Leadership: t1SFTJEFOUPGUIF-BSFEP8FCC$PVOUZ#BS"TTPDJBtion t(FOFSBM$PVOTFMGPSUIF4PVUI5FYBT&DPOPNJD Development Center t(FOFSBM$PVOTFMGPSUIF;BQBUB$PVOUZ&DPOPNJD Development Center t-PDBM$PVOTFMGPSUIF5FYBT4UBUF5FBDIFST"TTPDJBtion t'PSNFS(FOFSBM$PVOTFMGPSUIF3JP(SBOEF*OUFSnational Study Center (Successfully fought to save UIF-BLF$BTB#MBODB8FUMBOE

Without a doubt Webb County needs a new jail and a new courthouse with adequate capacity and parking for both, and I want to work with local law enforcement to make our community safe for families.

Quality of Life

Economic stimulus, public safety, and quality of life are interconnected. Webb County needs more locally owned restaurants and businesses, park spaces, public libraries for children, and smart growth neighborhoods. I will work with other local governmental entities, the business community and my constituents to increase the quality of our lives in Webb County.

Ethics Commission

Put the politicos in check! Webb County needs an ethics commission that will hear complaints from employees and citizens in the event that an elected official, including a County Commissioner or department head, commits an ethical violation.

Conclusion

I am like you. I work hard in my small business to put food on the table and to pay my bills. I have to watch my spending and balance a checkbook. I bring my experience as a small business owner, as an attorney, as a parent of two daughters and a husband and as a hard working person from South Texas to the table. I will always fight for you and Webb County. I will not place anyone’s personal agenda or special interest before Webb County’s Agenda. Please join the One Agenda Campaign and vote for me in the upcoming primary election for County Commissioner Precinct 3..

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Garden Share workshop

Historic font now part of Zapata Museum collection

Lynne Nava of Keep Laredo Beautiful shared with residents of the St. Peter’s Historical District the wealth of information she has about xeriscape, plant propagation, and water conservation. She is pictured on February 25 at “Garden Share,� a workshop sponsored by the St. Peter’s Historic Neighborhood Association. Attendees also shared cuttings, seeds, and gardening tips with each other.

Dr. Hildegardo Flores, part of the core of Zapata County residents who brought the Zapata County Museum to fruition, is pictured with the original baptismal font from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Old Zapata. The Font was in continuous use until 1990 when the new church building was inaugurated. Flores estimates that the font dates back to the 1890s or the turn of the century.

Chest Pain Center Accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers Service Excellence in cardiovascular care means that we’ve demonstrated our expertise and commitment to quality cardiovascular care by meeting or exceeding a wide range of stringent criteria to achieve accreditation. And our chest pain patients at the Heart and Vascular Center receive prompt assessments followed by expert diagnosis, management and treatment.

Our accreditation is good for your heart ,EARNMOREONLINE WWW)CHOOSE$OCTORS(OSPITALCOM -C0HERSON2Ds,AREDO 48

  

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Physicians are independent practitioners who are not agents or employees of Doctors Hospital of Laredo. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. This hospital is co-owned with physician investors.

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

7


We will miss

Dr. Alfonso Martinez

Courtesy photo

A

s are many whose lives were touched by Dr. Alfonso Martinez, we at the Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC), are terribly saddened by his passing. It doesn’t seem possible that someone as vital as Alfonso can be gone from our circle, and so quickly. On the damp, cold morning and afternoon of February 12 he was walking the streets of San Ygnacio with fellow board member Victor Oliveros and Chris Rincón and Paula García of the River Pierce Foundation to canvas for letters of protest for the proposed oilfield waste dump and to urge folks to come to the Town Hall meeting the next day. He was helping us that day because his teaching schedule would not allow him to come to the Town Hall meeting. He was doing his part, as he always did. Except for what I learned in an interview when Alfonso was running as a green for a City Council seat a few years back, I did not know him for the physician, scientist, and educator that he was in his professional life. I did have the good luck — as all of us at RGISC did — to get to know him as a board member and a friend.

Paula García, Dr. Alfonso Martinez, Victor Oliveros, Chris Rincón I admired him for being clear and to the point about our business — no grandstanding, no long-winded eloquence, just that look over the top of his bifocals to tell us to get on with things. He served as treasurer of our organization and brought much clar-

ity to our financial status. Victor Oliveros and Rudy Rincón, have lost not only a colleague, but also a close personal friend, the man they lovingly called our “tesorito.” Over the last year RGISC has worked to establish a more viable,

more visible profile in the community. Alfonso was part of that move forward, and we were so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with him. When he was with us in San Ygnacio that day, I asked him if he was warm enough and he said he was — thermals, layers of clothes, waterproof jacket, and a snappy felt hat with a pretty band and all. He had driven to SY with Victor, and I think Victor had been playing the Ry Cooder/Chieftains San Patricio album along the way. One of Victor’s most endearing qualities is that he laces the importance of history into our exchanges, and no doubt that morning he and Alfonso had shared a history lesson. My last visual of Alfonso that day, and now forever — the afternoon had turned rainy and colder — he and Paula were walking back in a foggy mist to the place we had started that morning, the River Pierce office on the bluff above the river. They had collected a nice stack of protest letters. El caballero de Alfonso was bareheaded, having given Paula his hat. -María Eugenia Guerra

REGISTER TO VOTE IT’S SIMPLE.

STOP BY THE WEBB COUNTY ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION OFFICE AT 1110 WASHINGTON ST. SUITE #103,OR CALL (956) 523-4050 YOU MUST BE A U.S. CITIZEN, 18 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER. 8 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Opinion

The Tejano Monument — from rejection to renaissance BY JOSÉ ANTONIO LÓPEZ

T

he soon-to-be unveiled Tejano Monument continues to add to the discussion of the founding of this great place we call Texas. For one, Spanish Mexican-descent Tejanos clearly believe that the memorial is long overdue. After all, they are living proof of the strong, unbroken genealogical link to Texas’ very foundation. However, what is it about large bronze statues that so lift Tejano spirits and their many non-Hispanic Tejano history supporters? To begin with, it will be the first monument honoring the founders of Texas. Second, for way too long, mainstream historians have clouded pre1836 Texas history with a thick fog of exclusion that will finally be cleared by the powerful beams of the Tejano Monument spotlight. The memorial is a door that has long been shut but will now be open wide, revealing the rich panoramic view of early Texas history. Inquisitive U.S. citizens — including many Spanish Mexican-descent Texans themselves — will finally learn more about pre-1836 Texas history, such as the direct connection to extended family in central and northern Mexico. For example, why do some citizens in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest speak Spanish at home? Why is it that so many cities, towns, and communities in Texas and in several surrounding U.S. states have Spanish names? How old are these communities? Who built them? Where did Tejanos come from? What are the details (roots) of Texas independence before Sam Houston’s arrival? How did Spanish-speaking founders like Miguel Hidalgo, Allende, Dominguez, Morelos, and Jiménez influence Texas independence? How did they inspire Tejano heroes such as Las Casas,

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Gutiérrez de Lara, and Menchaca? What’s the role of the Mexican states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas in Texas history? What is the connection between the city of Monclova and Texas? How did the vast Southwest region become part of the U.S.? In reality, Texas (and the U.S. Southwest) is the only region that was a cohesive part of another sovereign nation, the Republic of Mexico. With its Spanish language-based cultural makeup, the territory is unmistakably part of Old Mexico. That’s why Spanish is all around, in the name of our states, cities, and towns, and in everyday culture, such as the very vibrant ambience of the Southwest — its music, food, the ranch-and-cowboy phenomena, and best of all, its friendly, beautiful people. Thus, although conquered militarily, it is forever imbued with a strong Spanish Mexican culture. No other U.S. section can claim these characteristics. In short, Texas already had a sense of community with its own laws and strong, organized business and trade systems. It was to these towns deep in the heart of Texas along the Camino Real that attracted the first Anglo immigrants from the U.S. Yet, for all their blood, sweat, and tears, the Spanish Mexican pioneers of Texas remain virtually unknown to the general public. Beginning in 1836 with Texas independence and sanctioned when Texas was admitted to the U.S. as a slave state, Tejanos entered a long period of rejection, existing as a neglected sub-group within the mainstream Anglo society. Quite suddenly, the U.S. Mexico border became a solid wall, symbolically serving to exclude Texas’ Mexican past in the subsequent Anglo-motivated recording of Texas history. It never had to be that way. The Tejano Monument is timely. As a result of the noisy illegal immigration hysteria, some U.S. citizens con-

tinue to be wedded to an anti-Mexican perspective. For example, it is that stance that is driving the anti-Mexican studies effort in Arizona. Unfounded fear is further fueled by the biased rhetoric of politicians and radio/TV personalities. Ironically, some of these people live in Spanish-named, Spanish-settled states, such as California, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. Not aware of our long history, some citizens question our choice to speak Spanish and preserve our distinctive culture in neighborhoods that were established in the 1700s. In dayto-day matters, Spanish is sometimes spoken exclusively in these barrios. It is the same reason why priests in San Fernando Cathedral have been offering masses in Spanish for nearly 300 years. Clearly, the Tejano Monument is for the children. Spanish Mexicandescent students have up to now been deprived of their heritage both in the classroom and in mainstream history books. The reason? For years, generations of their parents have been taught that the history of their ancestors is somehow inferior to that of New England-descent citizens. As such, they take the path of less resistance and opt not to discuss their heritage with their children. So, in that sense, the Tejano Monument offers a much-needed teaching tool. The monument will at long last put the history of New Spain in Texas and the Southwest at a parallel of dignity and respect with the teaching of New England history. It is

an answer to Tejano parents’ prayers. In short, today’s Spanish Mexicandescent students are indeed blessed. They are the first generation that will be shown the path to success by a monument dedicated to their courageous ancestors. Importantly, it will shine alongside other honorable statues in our state capital of Austin. In achieving this equality, the Tejano Monument signifies a first step toward inclusivity and acceptance of Texas history in a seamless manner from its discovery in 1519 to the present. By approving the monument’s location in a prominent site on the state capitol grounds, Governor Perry has placed a Texas-size version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the bi-lingual, bi-cultural history of Texas. That fact is important and must not be underestimated. Finally, the monument equals momentum. Having a sense of ownership of Texas history will confidently inspire and motivate Spanishsurnamed students in Texas and the Southwest to stay in school, graduate from a four-year college, and become productive members of their community. It is indeed a new day in the teaching and learning of Texas and U.S. Southwest history. As in the myth of the Phoenix, the Tejano Monument represents a new beginning. From the cold ashes of obscurity and rejection, Tejano history will rise and be reborn into a long-lasting Tejano Renaissance. Ya era tiempo. ◆

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

9


News

LAPS ready to hand over impound, euthanization to city BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDos Staff

A

fter many years of being contracted by the city to act as an impound facility for strays, the Laredo Animal Protective Society (LAPS) no longer wishes to act in that capacity, according to Jeenie Reed, LAPS board member, who added that the number of homeless animals that have been euthanized has proved to be more than LAPS could bear. LAPS has decided to return to its original mandate — to educate the public in the humane treatment of animals, concentrate on spaying and neutering pets, and provide healthy animals for adoption. Negotiations are underway for LAPS to lease a portion of its privately owned property to the city in order to facilitate the shift of responsibility for

control of stray animals. The rest of LAPS’ property is intended for a spay and neuter clinic as well as continuing adoption programs for pets. Commenting on the shift in responsibility for the animal shelter from LAPS to the City of Laredo Health Department’s City Animal Control Division, Reed said, “In most cities, animal control falls under the jurisdiction of the city. Animal control is a serious health issue resulting in about 800 to 1,000 animals per month being impounded. Imagine if these dogs and cats remained on the streets. What would happen if we should have another rabies epidemic? LAPS took on this responsibility in the past; however the job has grown too large for our small humane organization to handle.” Reed continued, “The City has a bigger budget and the ability to hire

a larger staff. This growing problem needs to be addressed more seriously. The city will be taking on responsibilities that ultimately were taken on by LAPS. The City will focus on animal control.” Reed said that LAPS will no longer be responsible “for such tragic euthanasia duties.” She said, we will operate with a smaller staff and focus on reducing the number of strays. We are very excited about plans for the onsite spay and neuter clinic. We are focusing on raising the money to equip and run the clinic and on raising public awareness of the responsibility of each pet owner to spay/neuter.” According to Reed, irresponsible pet ownership gives rise to several issues. She said that until pet owners fully comprehend the repercussions of irresponsible pet ownership, the city will continue to experience an is-

sue with over-breeding and unmanageable stray populations. “Laredo is not the only city facing this problem. In cities all over the world, pet populations are booming, due to overbreeding. If this is not acted upon by the community, this tragic loss of innocent lives will continue and only grow worse,” Reed added. “Until the ultimate reality of a large, modern-day facility is realized, we must all work together on all fronts — humane education, cruelty investigations, spay and neuter availability, stopping puppy mills, and the list goes on,” commented Reed. Food, cat litter and especially monetary donations are always welcomed by LAPS. Discount vouchers for the spaying or neutering of pets is also available. For more information call the Laredo Animal Shelter at (956) 724-8364. ◆

SUBSCRIBE

meg@laredosnews.com

FUNDRISE 1 0 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


News Brief

News

Bus trip organized for monument unveiling

TAMIU brings human rights activist John Prendergast to campus March 29

N

umerous Laredoans are making preparations to witness the unveiling of the Tejano Monument on the State Capitol grounds in Austin on March 29. That Laredo sculptor Armando Hinojosa created the 11-piece installation has heightened the significance of the historic monument for Laredoans. The monument gives voice to the history of the early settlers, the Tejanos, who have been marginalized in Texas history. Through State Representative Richard Raymond, City Council member District 4 Juan Narvaez, Constable Rudy Rodriguez, and Javier Santos of the Fernando Salinas Trust, Dr. Sanjuanita Mar-

tinez-Hunter has organized free bus transportation for those interested in being a part of the unveiling. The bus departs March 28 at 7:30 a.m. from St. John Neumann Catholic Church and ends up at the Drury Inn in Austin where Martinez-Hunter has secured a group rate for the travelers of $99 per night per room for one to four persons. Rep. Raymond’s office is offering a tour of the Capitol after the monument unveiling. For more information or to reserve seating on the bus, contact Martinez-Hunter at (956) 722-3497. For hotel reservations please call the Drury Inn in Austin at 512467-9500. ◆

BY DR. BARBARA BAKER LareDOS Contributor

A

t the age of 21, human rights activist John Prendergast was sitting with a broken ankle watching television when footage came on about the hunger famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea. This would begin his 25year-plus social justice career. On Thursday, March 29, Prendergast will share his early calling to social justice activism and some of the human rights themes from his inspiring and thought provoking social justice writings with students, faculty, and community members at Texas A&M International University. Prendergast — co-founder of the Enough Project, which is dedicated to end genocide in Africa and crimes against humanity in collaboration with the Center for American Progress — has also worked for the Clinton White House, the State Department, the National Intelligence Council, UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has been a Big Brother mentor, a youth counselor, and basketball coach for over 25 years. During the spring semester of 2012, TAMIU’s Foundation of Leadership service learning course, which is taught by Dr. Carol Waters and Dr. Barbara Baker, has focused on one of Prendergast’s best-selling books, Unlikely Brothers, which is a duet memoir co-written with his first Little Brother Michael Maddox. The book is being utilized for discussion on mentoring and activism inspiration for the Leadership class’ service learning project on mentoring with Laredo’s Big

John Prendergast Brothers and Big Sister’s Program. Prendergast’s other contributions and accomplishments include launching the Satellite Sentinel Project with George Clooney that monitors crimes against humanity in Darfur and coestablishing the Darfur Dream Team Sister School Program with NBA basketball star Tracy McGrady. The Darfur Dream Team Sister School Program provides humanitarian funding to Darfur refugee campus to support educational initiatives and cultural exchanges between Darfur and American students. TAMIU’s Darfur Dream Team student organization was established during the fall of 2011. Prendergast’s March 29 presentation at TAMIU is entitled “War and Peace: Success Stories from Africa and the Implications for the Congo and Sudan” and begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium at TAMIU. ◆

www.laredosnews.com W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

11


ADDICTION

Falling through the cracks: heartbreak and a spiral of despair (The names in this story are fictional; lamentably the events described are not.)

BY MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA

F

or the mother of a heroin addict, falling through the cracks of a system meant to save her child, is an annihilation of hope and a spike in the downward spiral into greater despair. Such was the moment in which a date on paperwork foiled Estela Vela’s plan to get her daughter Kelly a bed in a state-funded rehab facility. The 30-day viability of documents signed by her daughter’s physicians for commitment expired as the search for a bed came and went, and Kelly turned 18. Vela said a local lab did not draw enough blood to test for heroin, which could have documented her daughter’s drug use before she was 18. “There are many of us parents who try everything we can to get our children help, but not all of us have the resources for a private facility. Sometimes the system works against us with arbitrary and unrealistic time constraints,” the Laredo business owner said with a noticeable measure of weariness in her voice. “It’s been a battle — with drugs, with my daughter, with the system, with her father who was so long in denial about her addiction. Sometimes I understand how powerless I am — the person who brought her into the world, the person who nurtured her, the one person who should be able to save her,” Vela said. She continued, “She was such a happy little child — lots of love, dancing lessons, a Gifted and Talented student, all the sweetness in the world. Never in

1 2 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

any of my thoughts would I have imagined she would end up on drugs and dancing in a club frequented by truckers.” Where did it start, I asked. It started with truancy, running away, slipping out of the house at night, and experimenting with drugs. Long after it had happened, long after any evidence could be gathered, Vela said, Kelly told her she had been raped in sixth grade by a boy much older than she. At 15, Kelly was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADD. “She wasn’t doing heroin at this point, but she was experimenting with drugs. She was already out of hand,” Vela said.

In hindsight, I try to put it together over and over again. Weren’t her teachers noticing changes they could have told me about? How could I not have known she was lost?” Vela asked. Blame and regrets run out, she said. “There’s this feeling in my chest that the phone will ring and I will hear something terrible has happened to her. She’s overdosed twice on heroin, and one of those times she was in the hospital for two weeks because she aspirated vomit into her lungs. There was the fear and fright of almost losing her, and there was the near financial ruin of the hospital stay. She is a danger to herself and no doubt very vulnerable to someone who may want to harm her. Sometimes the feeling in my chest

I understand how powerless I am — the person who brought her into the world, the person who nurtured her, the one person who should be able to save her,” Vela said.

Vela got Kelly into a boot camp in San Benito when she was 16. “She was doing well in her classes. I saw her every other weekend and could see the good changes in her. “While I was out of the country, she asked her father to come get her, and he did. He did not believe she had a drug problem. It was the worst thing he could have done. It was downhill from there,” Vela said. “There’s a tendency in all of us to blame ourselves for the choices our children make. Was it the divorce when she was nine? Was it the series of painful events that led to the divorce?

lets up and tells me it’s OK to feel good things sometimes, to be happy. She can’t wreck my whole life. I have other children and other relationships that are important to me. I have a business and employees who depend on me.” Vela has attended ALANON meetings to find support and to put her daughter’s addiction into perspective. “’Separate with love and don’t enable her’ is what I tell myself when I look away from the train wreck of a disease that has affected us all,” Vela said. “Drug addiction is a disease,” she reiterated, “an illness that can cause all of us grave harm. You don’t know this

until it is happening to your child and to you. You cannot pass judgment from the sidelines. You cannot think, ‘Those people just need to get it together.’ It is a disease like cancer, like diabetes. It has a diagnosis and a treatment.” Vela prays that Kelly will find herself — the smart, independent girl she once was. “My daughter is so lost. The devil has a tight grip on her hand, but she is holding on, too. When she stops gripping back, it can happen that she can find the strength to seek help, to commit herself to a place that will help her. I hope she’ll have that chance. Every day, I thank God she is still alive. Every day, I pray that she will stop being resigned to this life that has no future and no hope. Every day, my heart swells with sadness that my precious child believes she is living the life she deserves,” she said, her eyes welling with tears. “We need help here in Laredo. We need a lockdown facility here, beds and counseling here. Sadly, it is amazing that we do not have this kind of resource,” she said. Vela clears her thoughts, the softness in her voice giving way to a hard line about the ready availability of drugs. She said the disease of Kelly’s addiction to heroin is part of a larger debate, that of the efficacy of the War on Drugs. “We are not winning it. The drug lords are. Their dirty money is at the heart of every heroin overdose fatality, at the broken heart of every family dealing with an addict. Legalize, tax, and regulate drugs. It will change our lives. It will change our world.” ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


World War II veteran PFC Valentin M. Aguilar, pictured with his wife Olivia, was recently awarded the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in Italy on October 1, 1944 and the Bronze Star for ground combat in the European Theater.

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Long after the war, veteran receives Purple Heart and Bronze Star

Diaz draws place on ballot Pct. 1 candidate for Webb County constable Abraham Diaz (forefront with children), was on hand March 12 for the drawing of positions on the Democratic ballot at the Ambassador Event Center on Rosson Lane. He is pictured with friends, family, and other supporters outside the hall.

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

13


Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

At the mini-Zumba workshop at LCC South Zumba aficionadas of all ages were part of the Seventh Annual International Women’s Day Celebration at LCC South. The celebration and its healthy demos were sponsored by the Revolutionary Arts and Empowerment Club (RACE).

1 4 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

Communicating loud and clear Members of Communication Workers of America Local 6110 were a strong and vocal presence in the ninth annual march celebrating the life and human rights work of Cesar Chavez. The March 24 parade departed St. Peter’s Plaza and moved through downtown to San Agustín Plaza.

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Courtesy photo

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

New addition to the Farmers Market

Lopez presents paper at Austin Colloquim on Religion

Tessa Gelhaar, who describes herself as a serial wellness entrepreneur, offers Farmers Market patrons a variety of all natural skin health and beauty care products including soaps, clay masks, astringents, shampoo and conditioners, and creams. She is pictured at the March 17 Farmers Market in Jarvis Plaza.

Laredoan Armando M. López, a current candidate for graduation at the University of Texas presented a paper at the Central Texas Colloquium on Religion on February 18 at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. His presentation was entitled “Retreating Inward: Self, Other and the Ethical-Religious in Kierkegaard and the Desert Fathers.”

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

15


Santos Jimenez

Gardens good to go In about 60 days, the Community Garden at the Hillside Recreation Center will bear a yield of tomatoes, peppers, and squash, thanks to members of Occupy Laredo and the RĂ­o Grande International Study Center, who prepped and planted the garden.

1 6 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


The Mystery Customer BY THE MYSTERY CUSTOMER

Great buys on pots and containers at Big Lots; an off-day at the Great American Cookie Company

Tacos Kissi 4402 McPherson On a cool day, the outdoor seating offered a pleasant moment in the sun, but the MC could have done without La Ley blaring at the highest possible setting. The shrimp cocktail, however, was excellent. Big Lots 2310 E. Saunders St. When a comadre told the MC she had purchased raised bed gardening kits made of cedar at Big Lots, the MC drove like a fiend to get there to avail herself of a good buy. Alas, there were none to be found, but the MC did find great prices on pots, planting troughs, large garden containers, and some really neat Easter baskets for the kiddos.

Chick-Fil-A McPherson Road The MC always finds fast, uncomplicated service at this franchise — pleasant multi-tasking folks at the register get it right, and the MC gets to get on with the business of delivering LareDOS. Pizza Hut 9810 McPherson Ave On the evening of Saturday February 25, the MC was greeted by the staff upon entering the establishment. Despite the waiter’s soft spoken speech, he managed to be polite and attentive to MC’s party of three. Food and drinks were served in a timely matter. The MC’s experience was a very pleasant one, and she would return to this restaurant. Great American Cookie 5300 San Dario Ave (in the mall)

The MC had a hankering for something sweet, while at the mall. MC he opted to visit an establishment with a sensational selection of flavors. While the white chocolate macadamia cookie never fails to satisfy the MC’s sweet tooth, the customer service was not as satisfactory. The lack of staff or slow service was evident to the MC as he stood in line for about 10 minutes. The MC finally reached the counter and was met with a less than enthusiastic employee who took his order. As much as the MC loves to get his sweet fix from GAC, he may think twice before returning anytime soon. Johnny Carino’s 7603 San Dario Mario G. offered great customer service at the curbside pickup on March 1 at 4:33 p.m. The meal, how-

ever, was a huge, cold disappointment. The dressing on the small Caesar’s salad was over-the-top acrid, searing to the nose, and the lettuce was well past prime. McCoy’s 3809 E. Saunders The MC called around town looking for field fence, the large mesh wire ranchers use — not an uncommon item. She started at Home Depot, where the first person who answered the call had never heard of field fence and passed the call onto Hold for Life. Tractor Supply had heard of field fence but sold it in only 25-foot and 100-foot lengths. Who’s going to build a 25-foot fence? Julie who answered the phone at McCoy’s knew exactly what it was and had the price at her fingertips.

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Zapata’s HeBrew Coffee Shop & Bakery The MC found an unexpectedly delicious cappuccino at the HeBrew Coffee Shop and Bakery in Zapata. Recently opened by Mundo and Jennifer Flores at the corner of Hwy. 83 and Hwy. 16, the shop offers semitas baked from a family recipe, empanadas, cookies, cinnamon rolls, pies, fresh bread, and breakfast tacos. Pictured from left to right are Mayra Alaniz and Mundo and Jennifer Flores. They are open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

17


Pct. 1 incumbent Frank Sciaraffa faces challengers Louis H. Bruni and Mike Montemayor LareDOS offers this Q&A forum so that the voters of Webb County can learn about the platforms of political candidates in the upcoming election, and so that the voter can, by the words of the candidates, distinguish one from the other as to interests, character, and priorities. These are the responses of the three candidates for Webb County Commissioner Pct. 1. — Louis H. Bruni, Mike Montemayor and Frank Sciaraffa. We edited minimally for punctuation and grammar, though not for substance. -María Eugenia Guerra, Publisher

Please share with us your background, family, education, career. My background and family history are synonymous with public service. We are a life-long Laredo family with a legacy of public service and commitment to the betterment of our community. As a former City Council member and the former Webb County Judge, and with the lamp of experience at my feet, we are determined to improve conditions in South Laredo. We will represent all people of South Laredo, which should be the primary purpose of all elected county officials, to serve.

What is your interest in serving as the Webb County Commissioner for Precinct 1?

My name is Kristopher Michael Montemayor also known as Mike. I am 34 years old, and I am the youngest of four. My mother is Irma Montemayor, who is a librarian at United South Middle school. My father is Victor Montemayor, who is retired from Southwestern Bell. My older brother is Victor Montemayor Jr., a builder and owner of Montemayor Custom Homes. My other brother is Eric Montemayor who is a vice president in commercial lending in Aspen, Colorado. My sister is Debbie Montemayor who is in real estate in San Antonio. I have three beautiful children — a 13-year-old named Krislyn Mike Montemayor Michelle Montemayor, 9-year- old Kristopher Michael Montemayor Jr., and a one and a half-year-old son named Mikel Brandon Montemayor. I am engaged to Rosy Guerra and consider her two daughters, Claudia and Daniela Cardenas, as my own. I graduated from United High School in 1995 and soon after attended Texas A&M International University and Laredo Community College. After college I enlisted in the United States Navy as an aviation boatswains mate and served onboard the U.S.S. H.S. Truman CVN 75. I served in the USN from 1997-2001 and was in Operation Southern Watch. After enlistment I returned to Laredo and started working at Melton truck lines and soon after started working at Centerpoint Energy as a service technician. I also worked for Halliburton for a short time while I was studying for my real estate license. I received my real estate license and started working for De Lachica Real Estate for one year and then moved to Wright & Associates for over three years. I am now working with Coldwell Banker Ana Ochoa & Company. While working in real estate I also worked part time as an on-air personality for Guerra Communications for Big Buck country and my radio name was “Kris Michaels” I also worked for Classic hits 99.3 with the same name.

Bruni: My interest is to serve the people and taxpayers of south Laredo. We will concentrate on improving conditions in South Laredo. Our children not only need education, but healthy minds, too. Our drinking water, our parks, and our infrastructure are all important goals I aim to improve once we take office. In fact, I will contribute half of my county pay back to the taxpayers of South Laredo. This money will go to scholarship funds, law enforcement, and methods to find cleaner water. Montemayor: I see a need for more services to the members of the community, and I believe that the only way to serve effectively is to be a full-time commissioner and to remain open to suggestion from the community on their actual needs. For example, the veterans that make our life easier by making sure we remain a free

country need to be given the respect that they deserve and the assistance that they need to re-integrate into the community. Assistance in the form of temporary housing, food, medical treatment, and job placement. I want to make sure that ALL assistance programs remain in force by monitoring them closely and insuring that they are administered correctly and always remain in compliance with all regulations. I want to make sure that the Webb County taxpayers get their money’s worth, and I will not only serve Precinct 1 but I will serve Webb County. Sciaraffa: I’ve always been an active and committed member of society. Those two factors have been a motor for me during my eight years of public service. Representing and serving my constituents has always been on top of my priority list. Like

Louis H. Bruni

Frank Sciaraffa

My name is Frank Sciaraffa and I’ve served as county commissioner for Pct. 1 for the past eight years. I’ve been a life-long resident of Pct. 1 and a proud graduate of Cigarroa High School. Family is very important to me, as they’ve been the backbone of my public service endeavors. I’m a proud father of two sons and I make certain to be actively involved in their daily lives. Previously to becoming County Commissioner I served with distinction as a deputy sheriff in the Webb County Sheriff’s Department for eight years and as bailiff for the Webb County’s Commissioners Court. I formerly served as a criminal justice instructor at United South High School.

1 8 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


many, I care about my community and want to make it a better place to live and raise a family; that’s why I fight effortlessly to ensure that I represent the needs of my constituency. I truly believe I’ve done just that and my record of having brought in over $40 million dollars in funding is an indication of my dedication and commitment to the people I serve. My interest for continuing to serve as Webb County Commissioner Pct. 1 remains the same; representing and working hard for my community.

What skills would you bring to the decision-making forum? Bruni: There is no substitute for experience. I am currently the executive officer of Bruni Energy. I am a former city council member and county court official. Public service has run in our family for decades. It is a way of life for us. We come to do good, not to do well. Believe me, this position is too important for someone without experience to be cutting their political teeth on. Montemayor: The skills I bring are mostly learned from the military. In the military we have to make quick and accurate decisions and under pressure. We were taught to always plan and investigate and concentrate on the task at hand, and if things went wrong we had to make a quick decision. In real estate we have to follow Texas State laws on ALL contracts and also have to help in making certain decisions. I have always been the type to investigate before making any decision. I will bring this experience with me and show Webb County that I will not just approve or disapprove anything. I will make sure I investigate everything before making any decision. Sciaraffa: I’ve served with my colleagues in commissioner’s court for eight years already, and during that time I have been active in the decision-making process. I will continue to evaluate the issues before us and use common sense solutions that are cost effective, beneficial, and responsive to the needs of my community. What is your assessment of the current Commissioners Court? Does it have real leadership? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Is it responsive to the needs and wishes of the taxpayer? Bruni: Consider the times we all live in. This county court has done the best it can with what is made available to them. In some cases, we would have done things differently, especially in South Laredo. There is no justifiable reason for there to be such a disparity and difference in the quality of life issues found across this county. We are determined to bridge this disparity and place South Laredo on an even playing field. All we need is the same water, parks, and infrastructure found in other parts of Webb County. This will attract business and prosperity. These are true quality of life issues. Montemayor: There is always room for improvement, and I feel that the current court could benefit by bringing in fresh ideas. The strength of the court is the existing support. The court has a wealth of experienced and seasoned personnel, but the weakness lies in the lack of utilization of the resources and the proper monitoring of programs. The court should allow the department heads to perform their duties in an uninterrupted manner such as the hiring of personnel. Personnel should be carefully screened and the most competent persons hired. Webb County has recently lost funding due to lack of careful monitoring of the programs and the departments. The taxpayers want accountability and service, and the court is not responding in a satisfactory manner. Sciaraffa: Like in any governing body we have differences of opinion at times on certain issues, however, we’re able to work together for the betterment of the county and that’s remarkable. That is primarily what our constituents expect of us, and it’s our job to be responsive to the needs and wishes of the taxpayer.

When you speak of “quality of life,” what are you really talking about? W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Bruni: We hear these words spoken too often; however, they do have their merit. To some, it may mean fancy shopping malls, green golf courses, and quality schools for our young; however, to most of us, it can simply mean safer schools, clean water, and streets without pot holes. Every citizen of Webb County should have clean drinking water, restored parks, protected neighborhoods, and a decent job with decent wages. We are all entitled to a good education, police protection, and sound infrastructure, but we’re not too sure we are all sharing these quality of life properties, although we all pay taxes with trust that our county officials will do what’s best for taxpayers and not special interest groups. Montemayor: We have veterans that are currently homeless as a direct result of having served their country and then coming back to nothing. We need to implement education and job programs for these veterans. At the very least provide temporary food and shelter. We also currently have Webb County residents living in third world conditions because they do not even have the most basic services such as running water, sewer, and paved streets. The federal government has provided millions of dollars to provide these services and Webb County cannot overcome simple requirements such as expensive fees for service connections. Sciaraffa: “Quality of life” can be diversely interpreted to mean more than one thing. I speak of “quality of life” as a way to evaluate the general well-being of the people I represent and our local society. People expect for their representatives to be proactive in bettering the quality of life at all levels of government. For those same reasons I strive hard to ensure that I do just that. And I have and will continue to do so. To date, I’ve established recreational and community centers in Rio Bravo, Las Presas, and other areas of the precinct, giving young people a safe place where they can enjoy wholesome activities and have access to computers to aid them in their studies. I’ve also ensured securing funding for much-needed infrastructure improvements, such as a paved road in Las Presas subdivision for safe travel. I’m a passionate advocate for the elderly, and I’ve been able to secure over $1.1 million funding for indigent healthcare so that the most vulnerable members of the community get the service they need. What is your plan for initiating the kind of economic development for Webb County that would keep apace with growth and increased demand for county services? Bruni: We have much to do before developing economic appeal. Our plans are to help restore confidence to those who will bring economic prosperity to Webb County. We have a lot to do from the ground up, starting with a viable plan for economic development and tax incentives and abatements for those who want to invest their business in Webb County. Montemayor: I plan on staying in close contact with local, state, and federal officials in my efforts to bring more grants and public funds to Webb County. I will not be complacent with working with only the taxpayer money and whatever programs are sent to Webb County by formula. There are millions of dollars in the state and federal coffers that Webb County is not pursuing and the funds are going elsewhere or back to the government. To expand the current infrastructure and assets to provide the increasing demands takes resources, and we must strive to find those resources. Sciaraffa: Webb County without a doubt has to move forward with respect to economic development. As the county grows so do the needs for services and as commissioner my hands on approach in securing local, state, and federal funding will remain constant. Sciaraffa: Webb County without a doubt has to move forward with respect to economic development. As the county grows so do the needs for services and as commissioner my hands on approach in securing local, state, and federal funding will remain constant. ◆ LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

19


Feature

T

o be an artist and a true craftsman is to have a comprehensive understanding of your craft. The culinary arts are no different. It is an art form that not only serves as a viable employment survival skill, but is also rich with splendid colors, smells, and tastes. Given the right environment, this art form can also serve as a means of giving back to the community. Such is the case of native Laredoan Nemecio Dueñes, executive chef and culinary arts instructor for the Laredo Job Corps (LJC). Certified by the National Restaurant Association of America, he has overseen the culinary arts program at LJC for the past three years. While working on his associate’s degree at Laredo Community College and working at Johnny Carinos, Dueñes got a feel for food preparation and the restaurant business. He has worked as a corporate trainer to help open Carino’s franchises. He has also worked as a certified chef for Uno Chicago Grill, and when it closed, Dueñes made his way to LJC. “As students train, we work with the South Texas Food Bank and Kid’s Café program Monday through Friday. We make meals for about 300 to 400 kids. During the summer, it goes up to about 1,000 to 1,200, probably due to the fact that our kitchen is open year round. We are heavily involved with community service.” Dueñes added, “We want to show students what a real life work environment is like,“ he said. The LJC culinary arts program began with the purpose of teaching individuals the fundamentals of cooking and baking. Students either learn to cook for themselves or pursue their culinary arts talents, depending on their goals. “What we do here is to mold and prepare students for the real world,”

2 0 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

said Dueñes. Those who wish to pursue a career as a chef may do so after completing their coursework at LJC. Students are sent to San Francisco to attend Treasure Island Job Corps, a hub school for LJC. Once there, students have the opportunity to expand their individual culinary skills. They are exposed to a variety of spices, foods, and styles of cooking. Dueñes explained, “Because team work in the kitchen is essential, students are made to work in crew shifts, in the kitchens of various hotels and motels in the surrounding area.” Dueñes added, “They get more hands-on experience and get to see what it is really like to be an executive chef, or to work with one. The sky is the limit after that.” The LJC culinary arts program is one of the first participants in the Laredo’s Farmers Market. Dueñes and his current group of 20 students can be seen at the monthly market selling their baked goods. Dueñes emphasized that this experience serves to further teach students what it is like to sell their products and reinvest funds toward needed ingredients and supplies. LJC’s Culinary Arts Program has been in place for the past 25 years. The Laredo Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The purpose of this technical school is to aid individuals ages 16 through 24 to improve the quality of their lives through career, technical, and academic training. The Laredo Job Corps Center is overseen by the Dallas Regional Office of Job Corps and is operated by Career Systems Development Corporation. John Bruce is the director of the Laredo center. For more information on the Laredo Job Corps’ culinary art classes, call (956) 727-5147. ◆

Denitza Cortes preps for baking

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Job Corps culinary arts program prepares aspiring chefs and bakers

Instructor Chef Nemecio Dueñes (back row, white coat) is pictured with students María José Cadena, Luis Lomas, Maylin Blanco, Denitza Cortes, Ricardo Vazquez, and José Maldonado.

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Elections 2012

Rufino Lopez throws hat into the ring for 341st District Court judge Please share with us your background — family, education, career. I was born in San Diego, Texas 71 years ago and I am a fourth generation farmer at the family farm in Duval County. I am married to the former Rose Mary Moore for 49 years. She was Miss Laredo in 1960 and taught at United South until she retired in 1995. We have four children who are all married and 12 ½ grandchildren. I graduated from Alice High School in 1959, Baylor University in 1962 and attended Baylor University School of Law, becoming licensed in 1965. I have practiced law for 46 years in civil practice and some criminal cases that I have tried over the years as an appointed attorney for the indigent

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

defendants. I was raised in a rural community by educated parents. My father, who died when I was 13 years old, was with an insurance company agent and my mother was a teacher for 50 years. I am the youngest of five children, all of whom also graduated from college. I was fortunate to have hard working parents that allowed me and my siblings to attend school without the need of obtaining college loans or grants. I have done the same for all my children who have graduated from the University of Houston, University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, and Sam Houston State University. How many years have you been an attorney? 46 years non-stop and licensed to

practice before the United States Supreme Court, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, United States District Court for the Southern District, Texas Supreme Court and United States Tax Court. I belong to the Texas Bar Association, American Bar Association, Laredo-Webb County, Hidalgo, Cameron, and San Antonio Bar Associations. I am also a member of the Texas Bar College and a Certified Mediator and Arbitrator. How many civil trials do you have to your credit; how many criminal? I cannot begin to count the number of civil trials that I have had over the years, except to say that there are numerous high profile, very complicated trials involving multiple parties and large amounts of claims. They vary from real estate claims, partitions, probate and estate contests, products liability, construction defect claims, professional liability defense claims for doctors, lawyers, judges and other professionals. I have tried cases throughout South Texas, as well as counties in northern and central Texas. I have tried three criminal cases, all appointed by the court and all tried to a jury. I have never believed in pleading a client who I was appointed to represent. Clients are quick to raise issues about the competency of their attorney when that happens. How many of your cases have been appealed? Far too many to remember. As a civil defense lawyer, I have appealed numerous cases where I believe there was an error in the trial, procedure, or in the jury conduct. In a number of these cases I have succeeded and they were reversed while others were affirmed. I have also appealed cases to the Texas Supreme Court and have argued cases before the United States

Rufino López Court of Appeals in New Orleans involving funds due to a client as a result of some governmental activity. What has been your best moment in the practice of law? Your worst moment? One of the most significant cases that I remember was one tried in the 341st District Court where I represented a student at LCC who was sued following an accident after he ran a stop sign and collided with the plaintiff’s vehicle. At the scene of the accident, the plaintiff ridiculed him and joked to the point that he fell to tears and felt greatly embarrassed, not only because of the accident, but because he has borrowed his mother’s car. This was a case that I felt we should deny altogether and force them to try this frivolous lawsuit because their damages were little if any and because I wanted to expose their treatment of my client. The jury agreed with me and denied any damages, even though my client was negligent, but they also found that the plaintiff was speeding. The plaintiff lawyer was from out of town, I am glad to say. This was a great ending and it serves for the proposition that there are people that still want to abuse the legal system. In another high profile case that took place in the United States Tax Court were the government was charging the innocent spouse with taxes due by the deceased husband, a CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

44

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

21


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21 well known political figure. We were able to prevail on the theory of innocent spouse and substantially reduce the taxes, penalties, and interest. As to my worst moment, I can only say that I have none in my 46 years. Every case I have tried has been a great experience. I fight a good fight, and I keep the faith. I actually give the opponent their worst moment. What was your work experience before entering the legal field? I come from a long line of hard working people. We don’t make excuses and don’t ask for pity. My first job as a kid was shining shoes at the courthouse steps in San Diego where the great lawyers of the day, like Judge Raymond and others would appear for trial. While in high school I was a butcher at a meat market. In college, I worked at First National Bank in Waco. It is this experience that has made me a good businessman.

2 2 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

I have practiced law since December 1965, have hired lawyers and staff, and run a solid business. I have never been a public employee or received a check from the government whatsoever, until I began receiving Social Security a few years ago. I have not had an easy check ever come to me. “I eat what I kill.” It makes me a better man. Have you ever been in private practice? The question should be whether I have ever been a public employee. I have been in private practice as well as a partner in a 74-member law firm in Houston, have established my own law firm, and provided employment to many young lawyers who wanted to become litigators and good lawyers. None of this has ever taken place at the public expense. Some of these lawyers have now gone on to establish their own law firms or work for the District Attorney. But they got their start with me. What fomented your decision to

study the law and become an attorney? Shining shoes at the courthouse in San Diego on any given Saturday while the Court was in session; to a greater extent, the direction given to me by my parents and family. Frankly, I did not have a choice. Why do you want this seat on the bench, and if elected, what will you bring to the position? We have an excellent set of lawyers in our community and an outstanding bar association. I have seen their efforts and their passion for the practice of law. I hate to see them wait around for their case to be tried and spend valuable time in the halls. These lawyers deserve better as do the taxpayers. The judge must be able to prepare a charge to the jury and know the difference in the issues involved and the elements required to be met. I am as conservative as they come on fiscal responsibilities, but I am a strong

advocate for the preservation of the rights under the Constitution. The Court has had excellent direction by Judge Ender. I want to see a continuation of such practice and the efficiency in the administration. The Court is not broken and does not need fixing I have experience in a variety of issues, law interpretation, and application. I have always extended my hand to the opposing counsel, and I do not feel that you will find any lawyer in our community who is dissatisfied with the treatment that I have given him during the course of our trials. I have always treated them with the highest respect and courtesy and when the case had merit, a monetary consideration due to some fault by my client, I am the first one to recommend a resolution; however, when it does not have such merit, I am the first to take them to task. I believe they all respect that. ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Feature

BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

D

r. Frances Gates Rhodes is one of the most recognized faces among Texas A&M International University’s faculty. Since 1988, she has been an asset to the university as an associate professor of English. Rhodes, an Eagle Pass native, made her way to Laredo after graduating high school. She was then married and became a mother. Rhodes earned a Bachelor’s of Arts and a Master’s Degree in English Education from TAMIU. She received her Ph.D. in applied linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, while working as an instructor at UT. Children’s Literature, Multicultural Children’s Literature, Young Adult Literature, Studies in World Folklore, and Studies in World Mythology are among the courses she teaches. “What holds my interest with children’s literature — first, it appeals to the child in me. I love the literature. I was a voracious reader as a child. Children’s literature has one redeeming feature that no other literature

has: hope,” commented Rhodes. True to her commitment to children’s literature, Rhodes has been involved with Literacy Volunteers of Laredo. She has also authored a few children’s books, but has yet to publish them. She plans on doing so after she retires. Rhodes’ is involved with the TAMIU faculty senate as parliamentarian and elections officer. She also serves in an advisory capacity for both students and faculty as an Ombudsman officer. “I am the person faculty come to if they have problems, and I can help them resolve their problems by giving them ideas of where to go and what to do. I do not make decisions, but I help faculty in their own decision making by providing them with information. I act as the buffer between a faculty member and whatever the problems he or she have with students, other faculty, or even administration.” Rhodes commented on TAMIU’s student newspaper, The Bridge. “When The Bridge first started, I was the chair of the department, so I was the first advisor, so to speak. Slowly

401 MARKET STREET 956-722-0981

WHEN SECURITY IS YOUR CONCERN, USE THE BEST

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Courtesy photo by Dr. maría Glores

Dr. Panchita Rhodes: an academic lifetime in literature

Dr. Frances Rhodes but surely it has evolved to the very professional publication we have now. “ When TAMIU first opened its doors, it was considered an upper division school that did not deal with freshmen and sophomores. Rhodes said, “Almost all of our students had jobs and families, and the university was not their first priority. We still have a great number of students with jobs and families, but expanding to freshmen and sophomore grade levels has increased the diversity on campus.” Rhodes discussed the differences in faculty from the first wave of professors to the current arrivals. She not-

ed that current professors do not share the closeness that the first cohort did. “The quality of faculty we had to begin with was really good. That first cohort with Dr. Allen F. Briggs, Dr. Stanley Greene, and Rex Bald was extraordinary. They made sure that everyone that came behind them was also good. Our search committees have by and large been successful,” said Rhodes. Rhodes expressed her devotion to teaching and children’s literature. “I like the fact that I can inspire others who in turn get other people inspired. Hopefully this results in creating lifelong readers, which is a very important thing.” ◆ LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

23


Habitat Heidi Sayler, 20, NDSU “My experience with Habitat for Humanity has been amazing. I think it is really great how Habitat constructs these homes for people, but at the same time they’re not just giving them away. People are working really hard for these houses. They have to volunteer 500 hours and pay back the full mortgage value of their homes, with no interest of course. It really proves that these individuals deserve the homes we are constructing for them. Because they work so hard, it is almost certain that they are going really take care of their homes. It’s been really fun. I’ve never done any building before, so I feel a lot handier about what I am doing. I would definitely do habitat again.” Shuai Liu, 23, NDSU “I am a senior majoring in civil engineering. I think Habitat for Humanity is awesome! I’ve gained a lot of experience in constructing wooden homes, which is something I’ve never done before. It is also a great experience helping out another community.”

Chris Thibodeauo, 20, FSU “When we left Fitchburg, we weren’t sure what it was going to be like in Laredo, but once we got here we realized that everyone is just so nice. Everyone from habitat is extremely helpful. Building the houses is fun and when you leave the worksite at the end of the day you feel invigorated. You truly feel like your making a difference. “ Taylor Sevigny, FSU’s activities board “This is my first year going on an alternative spring break with Habitat. I think it takes a special kind of person to have the patience to work with students who know nothing about construction, and just be part of an amazing cause to help people who are less fortunate than others. I’m really excited to be here, and I would absolutely do this again.”

Sarah Minton, 19, FSU “I am the fundraising lead with Brain Castello. Throughout the year, we’ve done 16 fundraisers to get people involved in our community and inform them about our desire to take an alternative spring break. Every individual had to raise $400 to come on this trip. We were really nervous about coming down because of the horror stories you hear about Laredo, but then you get down here and see there is nothing to worry about. We have group reflection every night and everyonesays how friendly everyone is. This is a place we would definitely recommend to other schools.”

2 4 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

Habitat for Humanity’s Collegiate Challenge BY MARIELA RODRÍGUEZ LareDOS staff

S

tudents from universities in Ohio, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Nova Scotia were in Laredo to volunteer over their spring break with Habitat for Humanity of Laredo. Their time here was part of an alternative spring break program known as Collegiate Challenge. From February through April, Habitat hosts approximately 400 college student volunteers. Dates for student visits vary, depending on their particular spring break. From March 12 through 16 groups from Massachusetts Fitchburg State University (FSU) and Endicott College (EC), along with two groups from North Dakota State University (NDSU) were a part of the effort to help families obtain simple, decent, and affordable housing. Students worked from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day helping to build and finish out four homes in Habitat’s Hwy. 359 subdivision, Tierra Prometida. “The Collegiate Challenge is an alternative spring break program. We have universities from all over the country coming to help with Habitat,” said Michelle Begwin, program outreach coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Laredo, “It is really exciting that these kids choose instead of going on a trip to come to Habitat and build. Students are required to pay a $125 fee in order to be permitted to build homes for Habitat. We provide a host site for them and provide then with some activities. They get to work side by side with some of the home owners, which is a very rewarding experience,” she said. Habitat for Humanity observed AmeriCorps week in honor of the

AmeriCorps members who have been a vital part of Habitat’s work in Laredo. AmeriCorps, a nationwide program that offers individuals the opportunity to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups, gives individuals the opportunity to use their skills and ideals toward helping others and their communities. These individuals pledge two to three years with AmeriCorps, in which time they gain new skills and experiences. At the end of their term, they earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back student loans. During their term of service, AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living stipend. There are four AmeriCorps members who served as house leaders for Habitat Laredo’s Collegiate Challenge. The groups of students were divided among AmeriCorps members and assigned to the construction of a specific home. Kelsey M Hopkins, 24, a secondyear AmeriCorps volunteer and an Illinois resident, studied at Michigan University. “I have a degree in construction management, so I got to learn a lot more about the construction process itself. I’ve been able to work with volunteers and families, which is the greatest reward for me,” Hopkins said. Lorenzo A. Salazar, 20, is a firstyear AmeriCorps member and one who came from a Habitat home. He said he strives to aid in providing other families with the same opportunities granted to his. “My experience with Habitat has been really good. My family was struggling and Habitat for Humanity helped us out. I decided to help them out. Seeing happy families in tears W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

CONTINUED ON PAGE 26

44

Photo by Michelle Begwin

NDSU students worked with AmeriCorp’s Adriana González.

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

mer AmeriCorps member. Consuelo Ruiz, a future Habitat homeowner, was on site working with the Collegiate Challenge students. “It is very interesting to get to know different people from out of state. They are very friendly and very eager to work hard for the families. The construction of my home is moving along quickly. The house leaders have taught us all so much and they are constantly encouraging everyone to try their hand at something new,” Ruiz said. The experience for the students of EC was a bit more unique. Unlike the students from FSU and NDSU, they had the opportunity to stay in two completed Habitat homes. Not only did they work side by side with some of the families, but they also got to see and interact with them after a long day’s work. George Kuntz, assistant director for student activities at Endicott College, said, “Our experience has been amazing! We have had such a great time with Habitat for Humanity. For a lot of us this is the second time we are working with Habitat. We enjoy getting our hands dirty building and landscaping. We have been staying in the Habitat community, which is new to us. I think it makes the group feel that much more connected to the project.” While residing in the Habitat community, the Endicott students were affected by a nearby Kansas City Southern train derailment that produced toxic fumes and resulted in the evacuation of the entire Tierra Prometida subdivision. Ed Sherwood, husband of Carol Sherwood, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, provided a first person account of an incident involving the Endicott student volunteers via his blog. “A drunk female driver collided with one of their rented 15-passenger vans on Highway 359. They were traveling to Habitat’s office, having been told to evacuate the Tierra Prometida

FSU students worked on cutting siding.

Photo by Michelle Begwin

when they receive their homes brings back memories of moving into our home. After my three years are completed with AmeriCorps, I will to continue to volunteer with Habitat.” Daniel Martinez, 21, a second-year AmeriCorps member is following in his parent’s footsteps with their involvement with Habitat. “My mom was the one that really encouraged me to take advantage of the opportunity AmeriCorps had to offer for furthering my education. Through Habitat I’ve come to find I enjoy working with my hands. I plan on going back to school and pursuing a career in welding. At the end of each day, I have a smile on face knowing I did something to better someone else’s living situation.” Adriana Gonzalez, 26, a secondyear AmeriCorps member studied at the Institute of Technology and Higher Education where she received a degree in architecture. Gonzalez joined AmeriCorps to gain construction experience. “It is a lot of hard work, but it is really worth it. It is really nice to be out here and help out the families and just build. I feel like I’m gaining the necessary experience in the construction field, which will help reinforce my architectural pursuits. The students this week have been awesome. They have all just picked up so fast and helped out so much.” The students engaged in everything from landscaping to window and door installations, as well as trim and baseboard work. For a lot of students, this was their first time doing construction work. AmeriCorps members worked under the supervision of Habitat’s helpful and knowledgeable construction crew. They were onsite at all times to provide the students with direction and assistance in completing their daily tasks. If AmeriCorps members had any doubts about executing a particular task, they could always turn for guidance to construction manager Joe Martinez or Hector Tinajero, a construction crew member and for-

Endicott College students worked alongside Consuelo Ruiz on her home. LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

25


SUBSCRIBE Habitat subdivision. Five of the college volunteers were transported to Laredo Medical Center’s Emergency Room and later they reported having been treated promptly and professionally.” Despite the evacuation and the accident, the Endicott group displayed a great deal of resilience and devotion to service by staying and completing the week with Habitat. Kuntz observed, “It was a surreal experience but we forged ahead. We would absolutely come back to Laredo.” ◆

I was fortunate enough to spend three days of my own spring break at Tierra Prometida, watching how the AmeriCorps leaders motivated their volunteer crews. I learned a great deal about the spirit of volunteerism, goodwill, and hard, honest work. The experience with Habitat for Humanity was a truly rewarding one. All of the students were ready to help with anything. The fact that they sacrificed their spring break to do something good for others is an inspiration. These days most 20-somethings are plagued by apathy to the world around them. The fast pace of our lives makes it easy for us to take for granted the simple pleasures and rewards in life, such as home ownership. It’s easy to forget that disparities in socioeconomic status leave many individuals at a significant disadvantage. The work Habitat for Humanity of Laredo is doing to improve people’s lives as well as the community is remarkable. - Mariela Rodríguez

2 6 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

meg@laredosnews.com

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Re-establishing the American GI Forum Post in the name of the late Cpl. Juan Rodrigo Rodriguez

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A RCH 2012 I

27


News

Family pet Jasper the cat comes to life in Flores’ reading book for children BY MARIELA RODRÍGUEZ LareDOS Staff

L

ifetime educator Irma O. Flores debuted her selfpublished children’s book, Jasper, at the Laredo Public Library on Saturday, February 25. The book was written with the intent of promoting paired oral reading at home and in the classroom. Children from local and surrounding elementary schools joined Flores in presenting her book to a crowd of parents, students, and teachers. Jasper was a collaborative mother/ daughter endeavor. Flores’ daughter, photographer Linda A. Flores photographed her pet cat Jasper, the inspiration for the book. Jasper, an adoptee from the Austin Animal Shelter, proved a readily available and willing model. According to Flores, that Jasper’s name contained the short “a” sound,

2 8 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

made him the perfect main character. “As a TAMIU educational consultant, I have observed many classrooms throughout Laredo, and I found out that the children are lacking the basics. I love to teach reading. When I was a young teacher, I used to have reading classes for small children at home. I had this thought of writing a book to promote poetry, phonemes, choral reading, paired reading, and comprehension. I wanted it to be a reading book. Now with technology involved, I see too many children reading alone. I ask myself, ‘Are they really comprehending and reading the words correctly?’” Flores said. Asked why she chose to use photographs rather than illustrations, Flores said, “I wanted to see the real thing. Children interpret drawings in different ways. My daughter is a professional photographer.” She added, “I love Linda’s work. She is a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. I told her I wanted her to take photos of Jasper with the main props around him. She publishes a magazine called Glim in Austin. She photographs artists surrounded by their works, and that’s the scenario I wanted for each picture of Jasper. She did a lot of work to find the props and make the backgrounds for each picture. Linda also had to deal with Jasper, who has his own finicky personality,” commented Flores. Asked about her source of inspiration for the book, Flores said it was her mother. “She died at the early age of 45. We were seven in the family, and she made us understand

Author Flores reading from Jasper. that reading was so important. When we were young we would walk and take the Market Street bus to go to the Laredo Public Library. We all had a library card. Mind you, she didn’t know how to speak English. During the time she was getting radiation treatments for colon cancer, she attended ESL classes at Laredo Junior College.” Flores added that her mother’s lasting inspiration motivated her and her siblings to work for college degrees. Flores discussed the struggles of

self-publishing. “It was difficult because everything was done via computer and phone calls. I presented the book at Bonnie L. García Elementary School and Nye Elementary School. I love to hear the children reading Jasper’s thoughts. We have sold 100 copies.” Flores does not plan on writing another book, unless she sees a need to do so. Copies of Jasper are available at www.lulu.com/product/paperback/ Jasper/17288205. ◆

SUBSCRIBE 791-9950

meg@laredosnews.com W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


News

Sergio Mora: time to counter right wing ideology on the State Board of Education BY MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA

S

extremism of the actions of the members of the State Board of Education, he said, “puts them at odds even with mainstream Republicans.” He said that incumbent Garza marches lockstep with the Republican ideologues on the board. “Their actions are not compatible with the needs of students and teachers — their actions are actually sometimes detrimental to those needs,” he continued. He attributed the decline in education in Texas to the reforms of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and its standardized testing. “Corporate style reforms with an accountability bottom line have not worked for education. Despite being proven a detriment to

Courtesy photo

ince his graduation in international relations in 2000 from the American University in Washington, D.C., Sergio Mora — the former Democratic chair for Webb County — has been immersed in local and state politics. This election cycle he makes the leap from regional politics to a statewide race with the news that he will run in the upcoming primary for District I of the State Board of Education. (SBOE). If successful, he will face Republican incumbent Charlie Garza of El Paso in the November elections. Most members of the SBOE, like Garza, are Republicans. Mora is no political neophyte, having gained political immersion as a former personal aide to Tony Sanchez in his 2001 bid for governor and as a staff member for both Senator Judith Zaffirini and Rep. Richard Raymond. Mora wants to be an instrument of change on a board that he says “disparages the theory of evolution, readily censors books, has left the door open for creationism, denies the very real threat of climate change, and marginalizes Hispanics and Tejanos in Texas history.” He said the State Board of Education is “a microcosm of Tea Party dogma and right wing ideology” Sergio Mora — strong sentiments for a button-down Democrat from politi- our children and what they can learn, cally conservative Webb County. The 10 years later, variations of the same

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

system and the same standardized test with Asia. They are in the hundreds persist. Standardized testing tells our of thousands of classrooms all across children there is only one right answer, our nation. In Texas we rank so close to one bubble to fill in. All other answers the bottom in high school graduation, are wrong. Critical thinking, inquisi- whether our children go on to earn coltive thinking, and curiosity are left out lege degrees, and how ill prepared they of understanding a subject,” Mora said, are after high school for college or for the adding that trying to meet the bottom job market. Conversely, we have superline successes of standardized teaching CONTINUED ON PAGE 39 4 4 has demoralized teachers. “They fear for their livelihood, and their classroom time is compromised Sergio Mora credits his parents for instilling in by 45 days of testhim the value of an education. “They put a preing, a month and a mium on it,” he said. “My sister and my brother half of testing for the and I all followed that lead, all of us in internaSTAAR, and 28 days tional fields.” for TAKS,” he said, He credits his time on Tony Sanchez’s gubernaadding that two very torial campaign with giving him a firsthand look important groups of at the inner workings of a well-funded statewide students are being campaign. “I met the big players, worked with the harmed by the corbest political advisors, saw the roles of unions, porate model of testteachers, and trial lawyers in the Democratic poing — students with litical process, and understood the workings of a learning disabilities grassroots campaign.” and minorities and He said that his tenure as Richard Raymond’s low income students. district director and his work in Zaffirini’s office According to were both beneficial in establishing relationships Mora, the optimum with legislators and “in having a front row seat on educational system how the political and legislative sausage is made.” would be data-inHe credits Zaffirini for holding the line against the formed and not dataright wing reactionary impulses of some members driven. Standardof the Texas Legislature and for her effort to build ized testing, he said, coalitions. focuses on reading Mora said that he learned from Raymond’s and math. “What work to halt Republican over-reaches that were about history, social harmful to Latino communities. “I got a real feel studies, culture, and for the abuse and neglect that Republican leaderart — the things that ship is willing to heap on the poor,” he said. ignite the sparks that Over the last four years as Webb County Demset kids on lifelong ocratic chair, Mora has presided over some of the pursuits?” most hotly contested races in county history and Mora said, “The a political climate he currently describes as “volafront lines of our futile, boiling like the hot South Texas sun.” ture are not in the oilfields of the Middle East or in trade wars LareDOS I

M A RCH 2012 I

29


3 0 I LareDOS I M A RCH 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Santos Jimenez

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

On the 1100 block of San AgustĂ­n

At the Cesar Chavez March for Justice

No one was home on the afternoon that LareDOS came across a shelter fashioned of political signage, tires, and assorted cast-off materials. The shelter, which backed up to a warehouse near the railroad tracks, is located between Scott and Washington streets.

Laredoans of all ages took part in the 9th Annual Cesar Chavez March for Justice that honored the late activist Chaca Ramirez, Dr. Francisco I. PeĂąa, and community activisit Luis Diaz de Leon.

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

31


Journey: to the African savannah, hills and tropics A moment of enlightenment at the cradle of civilization

Wildlife roam as the city encroaches - “Nairobi National Park”

BY TRICIA CORTEZ Special to LareDOS

I

hadn’t been on a vacation in two years. I was feeling tired from putting in so many long hours at work, and I found myself daydreaming more and more about East Africa. Since the mid-2000s, I’d read numerous books on the Rwandan genocide, the subsequent wars in the Congo, and fiction books by African and British writers. My mother and several friends thought I was nuts to head out solo with a big backpack buckled around my waist. And they were apprehensive about my plans to take public transport, stay in guesthouses, and eat at local dives. What could I tell them? That I would definitely be safe? That their fears about me getting malaria, or drinking unclean water, or getting caught up in some political or ethnic instability were completely unfounded? That I knew exactly what I was doing, and had a clear plan for how I would spend two weeks in Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda? But after that first day in Nairobi, in late February, I knew that I wanted to share all that I was observing, thinking

3 2 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

and feeling. So whenever I spotted an Internet café, I wrote and sent the following travel posts to my mom and friends. Africa is intense, and not for the faint hearted. It can overwhelm. The raw natural beauty takes your breath away. So does the tremendous poverty. I made wonderful friends and had incredible conversations with Africans and other muzungu (white/ foreigner) travelers. The trip changed me inside…how exactly, I can’t articulate just yet. Post 1 First day in Nairobi. Wow! What a large, fast-moving, chaotic city. The people are wonderful. Hired a guide through the guesthouse, Wildebeest Camp, who took me on a tour of Kibera, a slum to the west of city centre.

EYE-OPENING. Some 1.4 million people – ¼ of the city – lives there. There is so much trash. In many places, it feels like you are walking on a carpet of trash and plastic bags. Trickles of raw sewage flow down the side of the path. Kids run up to you, wave, or grab your hand, and shout ‘How are you?’ The Nairobi matatu drivers drive like fiends! (Matatus are 14-passenger minibuses that actually carry 18 to 20 people). Visited the National Archives. Ate lunch at a locals hangout called The Roast House. They rocked the stew and rice and other Swahili sides that I can’t pronounce. The fresh mango fruit drink and passionfruit drink were yummy. That evening went uptown to the more upscale Westlands, and caught a new documentary at the Italian Cultural Institute about local conservation efforts to preserve water in a river basin in Laikipia, in central Kenya. Had a chance to chat with the Italian filmmaker, and others in this conservation movement. Very cool. Will keep you posted. Post 2 Nairobi, Kenya - What a difference from yesterday. Awoke early and headed to Nairobi National Park. The landscape is seared into my brain. Flat savannah of

golden grass dotted with short green trees. Herds of zebras, impalas, giraffes, black African rhino, gazelles, wildebeest and other animals roam free in this vast reserve that sits south of the city. Saw a mama lion

and three cubs ready to hunt! Rode in a big green safari jeep. In the distance, the tall buildings of Nairobi creep ever closer. Felt so free. Crisp breeze and cloudy, but the sun would peek out suddenly, creating a breathtaking contrast of light and shadow on the landscape. So nice to close your eyes, turn upward, feel the warm sun

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


on your face and smile. I was filled with wonder for God. He is the ultimate artist. Spent the afternoon in Karen, a nearby neighborhood. Much more wealthy, more white, and a feeling of segregation hung in the air. Felt strange and uncomfortable. Tomorrow, off to Kigali... Post 3

This morning, I flew into Kigali on RwandAir and my heart leapt with excitement. Rwanda — land of the thousand hills — is the country I’ve yearned to visit for years. Flying in, you’re struck by the red earth, green hills, and orderly structure of the villages. Kigali is in growth mode, buildings going up everywhere. It is so clean, it puts any city in the U.S. or Europe to shame. Plastic bags are ILLEGAL throughout the country, and community service and cleanups are mandatory for everyone the last Saturday of the month. The city is spread out over many hills, so going for a stroll is not so practical. Many people hop onto a moto (motorcycle taxi) which will take you anywhere for about $1.

And you must wear a helmet! Spent much of the afternoon at Ivuka Arts — a studio with 15 up and coming Rwandan artists — painters and sculptors. Made new friends with five of them and learned much about their views on their country and life. We

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

even spent time laughing and working our way through a Kinyarwandan-SpanishEnglish lesson! Tomorrow, I hope to learn how, nearly 18 years later, Rwanda has recovered from one of the most horrifying moments in human history. Post 4 Kigali, Rwanda - I didn’t write the last two days because it was hard to find Internet access. A very moving past two days in Rwanda. I visited two memorials just outside Kigali - Ntarama and Nyamata. Both in the countryside, and in former Catholic churches. Reminders of the genocide are everywhere. My stomach sinks whenever I see purple and white drapes on a building — a sign that horrific atrocities occurred there. Ntarama and Nyamata saw between 5,000 and 20,000 Tutsis killed at those sites. Walls ripped open by grenades. Walls stained with blood. Skulls, bones, clothing, the old Belgian-created ethnic ID cards, broken eyeglasses — all piled high. I broke down at Nyamata and the guide, whose family is buried in one

of the two massive crypts, told me as I left “Aimez, aimez” (Love, love). I was deeply moved. But my sense is that Rwanda is trying so hard to move beyond this period in its history and move toward peace and reconciliation and growth of its economy. The capital, Kigali, seems to be reaching for something big, and has high hopes. The leadership urges its university students to become “job creators, not job seekers.” People back home wonder and ask me if it’s dangerous to be in Rwanda, but I don’t think so. Lots of order. Armed guards with huge machine guns patrol on most streets. They keep the peace. Sounds weird to say, but I think it makes sense to do this as the country rebuilds. I’ve had no problem walking around late at night. In a way, Rwanda is almost 18 years old because it was so completely destroyed after the 1994 genocide. It seems like it wants to put the

past behind but there is still much work to do. Despite the beauty of many parts of Kigali, there is also a lack of electricity, paved roads, running water. Some people use single candles inside their homes/shops at night. Still, it is a very clean country. Remarkable. Post 5 Kibeho - Yesterday, I took an early two-hour minibus ride south to Butare on the Volcano Express. Buses and people in Rwanda and Nairobi are VERY punctual. No “Africa time” here! On the drive there, a mist hung low over the hills, and peasants were hard at work by 6 a.m. Butare is the intellectual heart of Rwanda — a small university town. But I was in search of Kibeho — the only Church-approved Marian apparition site in all Africa. The Blessed Mother appeared in Kibeho in 1980s to several visionaries warning them of the genocide, urging Rwandans to change their ways and pray and end the deep ethnic hatred. When I got to Butare, I spotted a nun getting into a Land Cruiser with the word ‘Kibeho’ on the side. She gave me a lift to the village, nearly one hour away, very remote in the hills. On the way, I saw many children not in school. Lots of farmers and peasants. A large number of tea and coffee plantations. Rwanda produces some of the finest in the world. On the ride, I learned that Sister Rafaela is one of three Polish nuns who run the only school for the

blind in Rwanda. The school was opened in 2008 by the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross, a Polish order. The school has 97 children, ages 5-17, who live there almost year-round. Rwanda has an estimated 20,000 blind children and this school in Kibeho is it. Sister Jana Maria gave me a full tour of this peaceful and lovely school, and I was stunned at how much they teach the students to lead productive, independent lives. They are taught how to read and write in Braille, speak English and Kinyarwandan, take classes in many subjects, and they are encouraged to continue at university or undertake vocational training. The nuns oversee a staff of 50 teachers and therapists. They want to expand the school capacity to almost 200 students but still need funding. Rwandans are a bit reserved, including the children, but not Pelagie. In a classroom with the youngest students, this little girl turned and hugged me and let me kiss and hug her. She stole my heart. Outside, I got so emotional realizing the miracle of this school, given the deep poverty of this country. I want to go back and help raise money for the school. I hope you will join me in this effort. Post 6 Kibeho - After leaving the school for the blind, I walked toward the Marian shrine, about 10 minutes away. My heart felt so up-

CONTINUED ON PAGE 38

44

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

33


Neither Webb County nor those who go before the 341st for their day in court can af-

ford to have a judge who will be learning on the job. A judge who is learning on the job will take longer to make a decision, or perhaps even make the wrong decision. The end result — justice delayed or justice denied.

EXPERIENCE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE COURTROOM • 21 Years Courtroom Experience in civil and criminal cases • 5 ½ Years as a former Webb County ADA Prosecutor • 15 Years in Private Practice • Extensive Trial and Appellate Experience

3 4 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

COMMITMENT An unwavering, lifetime commitment to the Rule of Law.

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


News Brief

L

aredo Community College and the Laredo chapter of TACHE, Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, is preparing for a March 31 5K fundraiser for scholarships. The Nature River Run and Walk begins at 8:15 a.m. and begins and ends at the LCC Park on the Fort McIntosh campus. Men’s and women’s categories by age are 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 4049, and 50+. Pre-registration at the LCC Fort McIntosh campus is in oom 310 of the Lewis Energy Group Academic Center. On the South Campus, registration

is in Room 170 of the Academic and Advanced Technology Center. Laredo Ciclo Mania at 7913 McPherson Rd. is a third pre-race registration site. The pre-race registration fee is $20 for the general public and $10 for students. Registration at the race — from 7:30 to 8 a.m. — is $25 for the general public. Awards will be given to the top three winners in each category. For further information on the 5K Nature River Run and Walk, email Leti Spillane at leticia.spillane@ laredo.edu or call her at (956) 7944760. ◆

www.laredosnews.com

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Evelyn June Peerez

LCC, TACHE prepare for March 31 5K Nature River Run and Walk

Holi, Indian festival of colors These TAMIU students marked the advent of Spring with the Hindu celebration, Holi, on March 8, splashing each other with vibrant colored powders. The celebration, sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs and the Association of International Students, dates back to Hindu legends associated with the triumph of good over evil.

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

35


Feature

Questioning the canon: Shakespeare by any other name BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

A

minority opinion exists that doubts the biography of businessman and theater entrepreneur William Shakespeare, in particular his being credited for the works of the Shakespearean canon. This longstanding tradition of doubt is known as the authorship question, and the minority group consists of scholarly individuals who have conducted research in the hopes of correctly identifying the individual known as Shakespeare. Bonner Miller Cutting, a board member for the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition. Cutting, raised the issue during a recent lectures at TAMIU and LCC. The Louisiana native, who graduated with a BFA from Tulane University and a Masters of Music from McNeese State University, is on a quest to answer the authorship question, something that began as a hobby but has now evolved into a full time job. Cutting’s parents Ruth Loyd Miller and Judge Minos Miller significantly contributed to this debate. Cutting explained, “Mom’s interest began when I was in college. Mom was a lawyer and had read a series of articles on the authorship question that appeared in The Journal of the American Bar Association. The articles were published in a book titled Shakespeare Cross-Examination. She was intrigued with the Shakespeare authorship debate and things

3 6 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

just snowballed from there.” According to Cutting, the fundamental point of disagreement between traditional Shakespeare scholars and this alternative school of thought concerns the name William Shakespeare itself. The authorship question argues this was a pseudo name for the true writer of these works. “Traditional scholars hold to the view that William Shakespeare was the actual name of the author, a commoner from the Warwickshire village of Stratford-uponAvon,” said Cutting. According to the Shakespeare Fellowship, “an absence of a paper trail documenting Shakespeare’s life” is another reason why alternative thinkers are turning to public records, to further uncover discrepancies between the life lived by the man from Stratford-upon-Avon and the life that should have been lived by the author of Shakespeare’s works. Another curious point is the intellect of the individual responsible for the Shakespearean canon. Sir George Greenwood wrote a series of books during the first decades of the 20th century in which he addressed this. “The biography of the man from Stratford-upon-Avon simply does not compare to the caliber of the man, who invented the Shakespearean canon of writing,” added Cutting. While many literary scholars and mainstream academics would label these claims as part of a fringe theory, Cutting reemphasized, “The fact that many distinguished and educated individuals would never subscribe to a

conspiracy theory.” Mark Twain’s “Is Shakespeare Dead?” is a testament to this minority opinion. Other skeptics include Washington Irving, Sigmund Freud, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Malcolm X, Orson Wells, and Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Sandra Day O’Connor, to name a few. Cutting commented, “Most colleges and universities will not let someone like me come in and talk about this subject. Is this a legitimate subject for academic study, I guess is the question that should be asked. And the answer is ‘absolutely!’” Through public records, the doubters are gathering the proof they need to establish their credibility. Does it matter that for hundreds of years students have been taught

what an increasing number of scholars, have deemed to be false? The answer, according to Cutting, is yes. According to Cutting, literary biography is often used as a tool for understanding the significance of any given text. If attaching the wrong author’s name to a body of work can lead to misperceptions of the work, then it is important to examine facts, data collected, and historical records to insure the information disseminated is accurate. “The authorship question is about restoring a sense of authenticity and truth to Shakespeare’s works,” said Cutting. For more information on Shakespeare Fellowship visit www.shakespearefellowship.org or Shakespeare Authorship Coalition visit www. doubtaboutwill.org. ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

37


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 lifted, emotional and in awe with the blind school, but all of a sudden I saw the purple and white drapes. On the side of this small path sat a quiet memorial. In this half-open building, skulls and bones were stacked, marking the horrors of the genocide. My stomach sank. You can’t escape these ghosts. A few minutes later down the road was the Marian shrine of Kibeho. It sits on a large piece of land on a hilltop overlooking other green, terraced hills. It was empty of people with the exception of a few nuns, and an attached school. The breeze was blowing so gently, and thunder was rumbling across the hills. I felt at peace. The Blessed Mother of Kibeho is beautiful. She is tall, thin, light brown skin and is called Mary of the Seven Sorrows. Afterward, I found a minibus back to Butare, then hopped on a moto to the National Museum of Rwanda — small but superbly curated on the outkirts of town. I decided to walk back and asked some of the many people — who walk everywhere — if I was headed in the right direction. The thunder started to rumble louder and fat raindrops started to fall. One lady and a teen boy said yes. No English or French spoken in many of these areas. I kept walking and walking in what was now a fairly hard and chilly rain. The lady turned off the road and I asked the teen boy several times if Butare was straight ahead. He said yes. About an hour later, I asked him once more. He stopped and said ‘no’ and pointed in the opposite direction. I had to laugh at the situation. I was soaked and cold and so glad to see a bicycle taxi. I hopped on and don’t know how this skinny elderly man managed to lug me and up and down those hills on an old shaky bike with cars and trucks whizzing by! I then hopped onto a moto to get back to Butare and boarded the 7 p.m. Volcano Express back to Kigali, or as the locals say — Kiga or Chiga. Post 7 Kigali - Yesterday, I went to the official genocide memorial. Some 259,000 people are buried here. It is a beautiful memorial that sits atop one of Kigali’s many hills. It is peaceful and inside, it details the events leading up to the 1994 genocide — starting with German then Belgian coloniza-

3 8 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

tion — and how a plan by Hutu extremists to exterminate the Tutsis was carried out so effectively. The exhibit ends, however, with a strong message of forgiveness. Nearly 1 million people were slaughtered in 100 days. Later that evening, I went to a screening of several short films by four up and coming Rwandan filmmakers, hosted by Germany’s Goethe Institute. Excellent films! Strong story lines. These young filmmakers took us into the daily lives of Rwandans to feel their struggles, immense poverty, and above all, their sense of hope. During the Q&A, the filmmakers were quick to point out that Rwanda is no longer about the genocide and that is has many other stories to tell. Very impressive. Post 8 Today, I took a 5:30 a.m. “express” bus from Kigali to Kampala, capital of Uganda. On the way, a tire blew out, so we waited patiently on the side of the road while vendors hawked grilled meat on a stick, fruits, and all sorts of cookies and crackers. The trip took 10.5 hours in an old-school coach! Arriving in Kampala, wow, I thought Nairobi was chaotic. Kampala struck me as a city overwhelmed. I felt a crush of humanity as I walked throughout the city center. Brushing against so many people and vehicles from the crazy amount of bus, car, and motorcycle traffic. Cratersized potholes fill the streets. The buildings are old, faded, and filled with so many shops and small businesses. The red earth of Africa has settled in ev-

erywhere, taking over the streets and sporadic sidewalks. Goats, chickens, and the occasional cow share this very crowded space with the residents. Driving through Uganda, I was struck by the extreme poverty in the countryside, and the small towns/villages. Major lack of infrastructure. Many kids not in schools. Lots and lots of babies and young kids. I was lucky to have made friends with a young Muslim businessman on the bus who helped me find a foreign exchange to get Ugandan shillings. He then took me to the chaotic minibus station where we found a minibus to Entebbe, a town that sits about 1.5 hours away, along the shores of Lake Victoria. Entebbe is where

the main airport is located. Just arrived here a couple of hours ago. Tomorrow, I hope to check out the lake and Botanical Center. Air quality is poor, like in Nairobi and Kigali, because of the emissions from vehicles and the very regular burning of trash by so many people. The smoke chokes and fills the air. Post 9 Entebbe, Uganda -- It is the time of the short rains. The morning started out overcast and humid. By 6:30 p.m. the dark clouds broke into a strong equatorial rain. A power outage ensued, but now all is calm. Today is the first day on this trip that I relaxed. Shared a breakfast of African coffee (coffee boiled with milk), African-style banana pancakes, and a juicy pineapple — as well as a lively and lengthy conversation with three new friends at the guesthouse. One from Italy, one from France and one, a South African who lives in the Bahamas. Spent most of the day strolling through the lovely Botanical Gardens along Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the water because of the presence of Bilharzia in so many African lakes. This parasite penetrates the skin and travels inside the body. That said, I was taken by the very lush vegetation of the Botanical Garden, as well as the monkeys

CONTINUED ON PAGE 40

44

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Tuesday Music and Literature Club

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29 bers for dropout rates.” Mora believes that other than teachers, technology is the “biggest gift to education.” He said that he was born into technological advances that have the potential to reform the educational system by improving the immediacy of learning in the classroom. Mora said that the State Board of Education is governed “by people who celebrate ignorance.” He added that while children in China are learning how to compete in the global economy, “our kids are learning how to take tests.” Revamping statewide priorities in education, he said, are at the top of his list, including fighting for funding “for our most crucial endeavor — to educate

our children.” According to Mora, recent findings in neuroscience and neuroplasticity — how we learn, the effects of nutrition on learning, repetitions, frontal memory, how neurons operate, how the brain works once you introduce physical exercise — need to be part of the educational debate. “We are living in a golden age of learning. Everything is possible now.” Mora said he is “a proud Hispanic” who would effectively represent “the demographic that most needs our help. We play a very big part in the life of our state and our nation. Our voices need to be heard in education. We have so much potential. Education is the be all, end all of our future,” he said. ◆

Creativity, Kodaly music method subject of TMLC’s March program

Robert Castro and TMLC President Linda Mott BY DENISE FERGUSON

C

igarroa High School percussion instructor Robert Castro was the guest speaker at the St. Patrick’s Day-themed March 13 meeting of the Tuesday Music and Literature Club, presenting a program on the “Kodaly Method of Music Education.” The Kodaly Method, which was based on the philosophy of Zoltan Kodaly of Hungary, involved the use of hand signs, folk music, games, movement, playing instruments, reading and writing music, and singing. A concurrent philosophy of music training was to teach children music nine months before they were born. “Creativity is a part of everyone’s lives. We are all born creative,” Castro told TMLC members. “In preparing children for a future that no one can predict, creativity is of the utmost importance, and creativity should be given the same status as literacy.” According to Castro, “Creativity means that the individual actively participates in something. If you ask a first grader if he is creative, he will say ‘yes.’ But at the college level, they will

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

hold back. Creativity is left on the back burner. Nowadays we need creative minds to prepare for the future.” Castro referenced St. John Bosco with “A school without music is like a body without a soul.” Castro said that when he taught at Cigarroa Middle School, he was told there was little available space. He replied, “I don’t need a room — just give me 25 first graders and a tree with shade.” During the business portion of the March meeting, members submitted nominations for new membership and for officers for the term 2012 to 2014. Members also discussed a proposal for a change in the membership section of the club’s constitution. The revision was accepted. The election of officers will take place in April. Maria Soliz, Graciela Diaz, and Delia Leal formed the hostess committee for the March meeting. Mary Esther Sanchez, co-chair of the February Valentine’s Day Tea, announced that the affair had been a success, with 130 members and guests in attendance. She said that proceeds from the raffle at the tea would go towards funding a scholarship for a local music student. ◆ LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

39


CONTINUED FROM PAGE 38 and countless species of birds. One spot in these Gardens was used as a filming site for the old Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller! One highlight of this trip has been all of the new friends that I’ve met along the way — both African and muzungu, which means foreigner or white person. Every time a kid, or boda boda (moto taxi) driver or anyone else shouts ‘muzungu!’ at me, I shout back ‘muzungu’ and give them a thumbs up or raise my arms up in the air, and laugh! Post 10 Nairobi airport -- On my way to Zanzibar, the spice island! Birthplace of Freddy Mercury from Queen. My flight on Precision Air was very delayed out of Entebbe, so I was rerouted through Nairobi. Now this flight is delayed. Siiiiigh. Waiting here at an internet kiosk hoping the flight will leave tonight! Post 11 Stonetown, Zanzibar -- Am staying at a place that was a former sultan’s harem. Ha! The décor inside Hotel Kiponda is simple but artfully designed. Zanzibar is hot, humid, sticky, tropical. But I like it. The city feels a bit like a mix between Havana (the buildings) and old Fez in Morocco (old walled maze of narrow stone paths). The heavy wooden doors on many homes and buildings are a cultural gem. Such intricate carvings. The difference between an Indian and Arabic door is that the Arabic doors are square, and have a chain-looking design around the perimeter, signifying the slave trade, which dominated the island. Visited a spice plantation where the guide cut and let us smell and taste cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, lemongrass, cloves (their specialty export), jackfruit, huge avocados, pineapple, and so many other spices and fruits that grow in this very fertile earth. There is a great deal of poverty, too. We visited an old cave where slave traders would hide their soon-to-be shipment of slaves after slavery was outlawed in Zanzibar. It freaked me out — then we moved on to an old Persian bath (hammam) for a sultan,

4 0 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

and then.....the beach! The sea is so clear and blue, a teal blue. Calm with so many small wooden boats bobbing on the surface. The water was cold in pockets so it felt wonderful while swimming. Sending lots spice-scented hugz! Post 12 Stonetown -- For the first time on this trip, I went to Mass. In Zanzibar! An island that is 95 percent Muslim. Went to 7 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The core parishioners seemed to be Indian. The Cathedral was designed by the architect who designed Notre Dame in Marseilles. So lovely, but in such need of repair and some TLC. Afterward went back to the rooftop terrace at Kiponda for a wonderful breakfast of fried eggs, all of my favorite tropical fruits in the world (papaya, passionfruit, mango, pineapple) and wonderful thick bread toasted and slathered with salty margarine and sweet Kenyan plum jam. And a strong French press coffee! I made new friends with a German and Austrian. As we swapped stories and much laughter, a storm waged around us. After a three-hour conversation, I took their advice and headed north, to the beach in Kendwa. Hopped onto a dala-dala – a mini truck with two benches facing each other, crammed with people inside and bags of maize and rice piled on top. For $3, I made the two-hour trip to the northern tip of the island. Stayed in a bungalow at a laid back place with Bob Marley music playing in the outdoor bar area. The white sand is so soft and the water is shockingly blue. Post 13 Kendwa -- Went on a full day snorkel trip to Mnemba Atoll on a dhow boat, a traditional Zanzibarian/Swahili wooden

sailboat. Took two hours to get there, and three to get back!! The water is SO blue, so clear. As soon as you get in, it’s like going on a safari but underwater. The coral was pretty and there were all sorts of tropical fish, of all sizes, shapes and colors. Some were breathtaking. Like their counterparts out on the African savannah, the zebra fish underwater are numerous. I often found myself swimming in a school of them! They would zoom inches near my face and seemed very curious. The sun by the way is FIERCE. Even my dark skin got burnt a painful red! Post 14 Made it back home last night!! Flight from Zanzibar to Laredo via Nairobi, London and Dallas. I got so sick from my

stomach the last night in Zanzibar. I didn’t think I’d make it back. Fortunately, my Austrian friend in Stonetown stuffed me with lots of meds and, literally, helped me get on the plane. Alas, am back at the office in Laredo. Can’t stop thinking about this trip. It was an eye opening and in some ways lifealtering experience. Yet the people are so engaging once they connect with you. I left Africa with a deep respect and appreciation for their daily struggles, history, culture and precarious future. I also left with a tremendous amount of gratitude for all that we have back home and take for granted. Here’s hoping to someday return and to stay in touch with so many new friends, both African and muzungu! Africa unite!! ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Notes from LaLa Land BY DR. NEO GUTIERREZ

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.

G

raciela Gutierrez, originally from Benavides, was my mother’s first cousin. Besides being a music teacher, she actually was quite an anthropologist, as evidenced by the Gutierrez World Instrument Collection housed at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. The collection of 150 instruments from 96 countries was bequeathed to her alma mater upon her death in 2001. The narrative for a Google site about her collection honors her life and work. Graciela lived abroad for 33 years, starting her travel in Venezuela in the 1950s as a music teacher for children of workers of Creole Petroleum. She taught music in the mornings, then tutored students who knew only French, Italian, English, or Spanish. The company insisted the employees’ children had to know English or Spanish in or-

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

OLLU home for Gutierrez’s musical legacy der to attend school. While there, Graciela found out about teaching opportunities overseas, so she got a job with the U.S. armed forces as an overseas teacher to children of military personnel. She taught for six years in Germany, taking advantage of her location to travel all over Europe. She taught in Spain, remaining in Madrid for 25 years. She enjoyed Spain, seeing the places of her ancestry and attending the plays of famous Spanish playwrights. She eventually returned to Benavides, from which she departed for travel several times around South America, the Caribbean Islands, Egypt, and Europe. She visited all the Arab countries, where she particularly enjoyed learning about their religion and music. One of her most interesting trips was to travel through the Panama Canal. Other cruises took her to the Greek Islands, up the Alaskan coast, into the Atlantic Canadian provinces,

and to the Caribbean Islands. She never experienced any travel problems until she got to Senegal, where the native people dislike picture-taking, fearing their soul will be removed from their body if they are photographed. So when Graciela took a picture of a marketplace, someone threw a shoe at her. On another occasion, when she got to the coast, she was taking a picture of a boat, but a woman thought she was being photographed, so she threw fish water at Graciela. While in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, she and a friend carried a musical instrument she was bringing back to the hotel, when she noticed a man following them. Graciela wrote, “We got to the hotel and asked the concierge to tell the man to leave us alone. But the concierge said he

couldn’t do it because the man was black and he was white. My friend and I remained in the lobby of the hotel, and we decided to stay there in open sight, rather than heading back to our room. We finally asked one of the bellboys to ask the man what he wanted. The bellboy came back and told me I didn’t want to know what the man said. Finally, after I insisted, the bellboy told me. The man said that Allah had said I was his and he wasn’t leaving until I went with him. After almost two hours, the man ended up leaving.” Graciela went to heaven at 73, and after all those world travels, she is resting back in her hometown of Benavides. And on that note, it’s time for--as Norma Adamo says: TAN TAN !

www.laredosnews.com

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

41


News

Library, TACHE celebrate literacy with Dia de los Niños, Dia de los Libros BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDOS Staff

T

he Laredo Public Library (LPL) will observe El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros on April 28 with a celebration that focuses on literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The events of the funfilled family day are also sponsored by the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education (TACHE), a statewide organization established in 1974 to improve of educational and employment opportunities for Latinos in higher education, and Arte Público Press, one of the largest Latino presses devoted to promoting Latino authors and literature.

4 2 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

The event will commence at 9:30 a.m. in the library’s multi-purpose room, with María Antonia Juarez’s presentation on “The Benefits of Reading as a Family.” Mary Sue Galindo — author, TACHE president, and LCC instructor — will read from Icy Watermelon/ Sandía Fría, a story about three generations of one Hispanic American family gathered together one summer night. Diane Gonzales Bertrand will read chapters from her books Upside Down and Backwards and The Ruiz Street Kids. According to Galindo, prior to the event Gonzales-Bertrand will read and visit with the children at LCC South’s Camilo Prada Child Development Center and with Pre-K students at Centeno Elementary. Arte Público

Press has made these visits possible. Mariana Tristan, assistant director of Arte Público Press will speak on “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage,” an initiative devoted to getting Latino histories preserved and recorded. In conjunction with El Día de los Niños, the 9th Annual Poetry Festival Awards will be held between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The winners will present their poems and receive recognition accordingly. The contest is sponsored by the Diocese of Laredo Catholic Schools, Friends of the Library, Laredo Community College, Laredo Independent School District, Laredo Public Library, Texas A&M International University, and United Independent School District.

Galindo commented, “We hope to draw the public into this celebration of literacy. We want parents and children and readers and writers of all ages to come out and buy books, learn how to submit manuscripts, enjoy the readings and puppet show, and celebrate the writings of our young poets. She added, “We want to promote and celebrate literacy in our community. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is a celebration of literacy and family. We want to nurture our future scholars who will one day take our place in the halls of higher education.” For further information please call María Soliz at (956) 795-2400 or email mgsoliz@laredolibrary.org. Mary Sue Galindo may also be contacted by email galindo_marysue@yahoo.com ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Feature

The majestic John James Audubon Park of New Orleans BY LEM LONDOS RAILSBACK

D

During my travels to New Orleans over the decades, I nearly always ride the St. Charles Avenue Trolley. On this most recent trip, I boarded the trolley early one morning on Canal Street. I asked the conductor to remind me when we were approaching the street for my stop. I rode along admiring the great old homes and giant trees in the famous Garden District. As we continued, I noticed what appeared to be some sort of school on our right. I was viewing both Tulane University and Loyola University. I spotted a large, long stone on the ground to my left engraved with “Audubon Park.” I got off at the next stop and walked back to the gate of the park. The land for the Park had been the old French Plantation de Bore, home of the first mayor of New Orleans. About six miles west of downtown New Orleans, the park is bordered by St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River. The park was used at different times by both the Southern and the Union Armies and after the war served as the training facility for the “Buffalo Soldiers.” Eventually, the City of New Orleans purchased the land and designated it as an urban park. In 1884, the park hosted the World’s Industrial and Cotton Exposition, the first world’s fair for New Orleans. Over time, the city has added several sports fields and picnic areas, and a golf course. I chatted with several picnickers and learned that a Sunday outing at the park was a weekly event for many families, that hordes of tourists visited the park on every day of the week, and that school groups —e.g., soccer teams and tennis teams — used the sports

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

fields all through the year. On its east side, the park hosts a rookery, one of the prime birding spots in the region. I came upon a large statue of John James Audubon, the naturalist born Jean-Jacques Audubon in SaintDomingue, Haiti as the illegitimate son of the French naval officer Lt. Jean Audubon. His Creole mother, Jeanne Rabine, died when young Audubon was only a few months old. In the face of rising unrest among the African slaves, Lt. Audubon sold part of his plantation in Haiti and used the proceeds to buy a 284-acre farm named Mill Grove about 20 miles from Philadelphia. He returned to France and to his wife whom he had married years before. He sent for Jean-Jacques and half sister Rose, and in 1794, he and his wife, Anne Moynet, formally adopted both children. Jean-Jacques’s name was changed to Jean-Jacque Fougere Audubon. He grew up during the French Revolution and learned to ride horses, fence, dance, and play the flute and violin. From his earliest days in France, the young boy displayed distinct preference for the outdoors and birds, which his father encouraged. According to his father’s wishes, Audubon entered a military school in preparation to become a navy officer. When he found that boats made him seasick, that he had no love for mathematics or navigation, and that he had failed the officer’s qualification test, Jean-Jacques returned to land and his beloved woods. When he turned 18 in 1803, Audubon emigrated to the United States and changed his name to John James Audubon. He arrived at Mill Grove to manage his father’s lead mines. In New York City, he contacted yellow fever. The Quaker women who managed a home for the sick took him

in, nursed him back to good health, and taught him English. He loved Mill Grove. He let the tenants run the grounds and the mining while he spent his days in the woods. He learned basic rules of ornithology. On a return trip to France to secure his father’s permission to marry, Audubon met Charles-Marie D’Orbigny, a naturalist and physician who helped him improve his taxidermy skills and taught him the scientific methods of research. Upon his return to the United States, Audubon married his neighbor’s daughter, Lucy. Together, they explored the outdoors, and in time Audubon opened a museum of nature. Exhibits included opossums, raccoons, fish, snakes, birds’ eggs, and other specimens. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky to open a general store and then west to Henderson, Kentucky to operate another store. Audubon spent more and more of his time in exploring the outdoors, in painting and drawing of birds, and in learning the ways of the Shawnee and Osage Indians. He evolved into a genuine frontiersman. In 1812, Audubon gave up his French citizenship and embraced American citizenship. In spite of fail-

ing businesses and other hardships, he visited Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana to explore, draw, and paint. His wife became the breadwinner for the family by teaching children out of her home. Rebuffed by American publishers for his paintings, Audubon sailed from New Orleans in 1826 to England to take over 300 drawings to British publishers who loved his work and his Birds of America, a collection of 435 prints of 497 birds species. Returning in 1829 to America, Audubon completed more drawings. The Audubons went to England where he continued working on his Birds of America and its sequel Ornithological Biographies that he wrote with Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray. Audubon purchased the estate that is now Audubon Park and continued travels into New England, Eastern Canada, and the American West. Among Audubon’s contributions are the discovery of 25 new bird species and 12 new subspecies, his enormous continuing influence on the understanding of bird anatomy and behavior, and his high standards for all later works in ornithology. Charles Darwin cited Audubon three times in On the Origin of Species. ◆

Unpaid Summer Internships for Writers Please call Meg Guerra

at (956) 791-9950 or write to

meg@laredosnews.com LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

43


Book Review

Bowden, Briggs in Dreamland: Juarez, a city in ruins BY CORDELIA BARRERA Dreamland; The Way Out of Juárez By Charles Bowden, Illustrated by Alicia Leora Briggs

T

he acclaimed activist and theorist, Gloria Anzaldúa, describes the US-Mexico border as an open wound, una herida abierta, where the third world grates against the first and bleeds. And as we know, before a scab forms, there is a hemorrhaging, a loss of lifeblood. On the borderlands this loss wears many masks. It is found in the borders imposed by capitalism and, on the weary faces of thousands of maquila workers who have been displaced from their homes in the interior of Mexico. It is found in nationalist and racist epithets that denounce masses of immigrants — job seekers — from the ravaged south. It is found in the silenced bones, the skeletal remains of countless young women who once labored for slave wages in Juárez, but who now scream for justice from unmarked graves. In Charles Bowden’s and Alicia Leora Briggs’s book, Dreamland; The Way Out of Juárez, loss on the US-Mexico borderlands surrounds questions and issues that demand new policies, new ways of confronting dehumanizing systems, fresh glimpses of the same dusty vista that is our home. The award-winning book, first published in 2010 by the UT Austin Press, is now available in paperback. For over a decade, Charles Bowden has been reporting and documenting social issues on the US-Mexico border. He has carved a fissure in the War On Drugs to disclose American complicity in a system that has created a police state along the borderlands. His books and articles often undermine the credibility of the justice system on both sides of the border; he has many critics and detrac-

4 4 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

tors. In Dreamland; The Way Out of Juárez, he teams up with Texas-based artist Briggs to deliver a haunting, surreal, and mesmerizing portrait of a dying city in ruins — Juárez — that is also a city of dreamers. Dreamland is illustrated like a medieval manuscript, a graphic novel that sometimes reads like a police blotter. Dreamland is feverish, lyrical, and visceral. In lurid detail, the book depicts the story of one place: a creamcolored condominium in Juárez where, over a 4-month period, 14 people were tortured, executed, summarily buried under the porch in the backyard, and poured over with lime. When the story of this one place, set securely in a middle-class neighborhood, broke in 2004, it was one of the first times the uncontainable violence of Juárez was publicly acknowledged. Bowden focuses on one condo, and one man — the “canary” Lalo — to tell the story of a city dying in the ruins of our own making. We must own this city, writes Bowden; we are all complicit in

creating a third world country that pays — in blood — first world prices. Dreamland combines solid reportage with poetry, police transcripts, and powerful images. Bowden’s furious, melancholic, morally-invested prose is meant to disturb us into change. He wants us to not simply understand the story of one particular death house used by the Juárez cartel, but to feel the meaning of the loss — like thousands of Mexicans must every day of their lives. We are meant to bear witness, and just as he has deliberately exposed his mind and body to some of the worst elements of the carnage, so must we. Like the artist Briggs, who made a number of trips to Juárez from 2007 – 2009, we enter the death houses, the mental institutions, the rehab centers and the city morgue to come to terms with the effects that poverty, corruption, and violence have on both the dead and the living. To create her haunting images, Briggs uses the ancient technique of sgraffito, in

which the artist uses a knife to remove parts of a blackened surface to reveal areas of white underneath. Briggs’s work depicts the careful observation of current events on the borderlands alongside a dark, expressive quality reminiscent of medieval personifications of death. Her engravings in Dreamland are powerful and unsettling because they focus as much on the criminals as they do the victims and everyday citizens of Juárez. The images are eerie and frightening, but they scream of a dark beauty and an immediacy that must be reckoned with. Dreamland is a powerful document, and a documentary that — like a gripping yet hideous car crash that we unwittingly witness — compels us to keep looking because we crave human understanding, and, perhaps, acknowledgement. Much of what we witness on the border, like much of what the press writes, is a mutual fraud, a fantasy, a lie condoned by the US and Mexican government. But when we look away, we convict the truth. We cannot afford to look away, to bury the dead along with the truth. We must own our Juárezes, just like we must own all our truths, even if they wear the face of our deepest monsters. ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Laredo Stories

This freelancer finds a home BY ARMANDO X. LOPEZ LareDOS Contributor

A

ll it took was reading the story of former Oregon distance runner Rhiannon Hull in the March 7 edition of Sports Illustrated for me to miss being part of the writers’ universe. The harrowing tale of a mother’s ultimate sacrifice told with great suspense and with a loving tone, made me yearn to tell the stories around me. Fortunately LareDOS publisher Meg Guerra has always provided a home to aspiring writers. Fifteen years ago she helped my brother Goyo and me launch The Laredo Sports Journal and even distributed the first issue of our venture in LareDOS. Our first issue was nestled safely in her hard-hitting, well-written journal. Like a shooting star, our publication had a bright, but short-lived existence as my brother Goyo and sister-in-law Blasita found their way into the job progressions that led them to their current employments that enrich our city’s spiritual and touristic development.

Last year by the kind invitation of Laredo Morning Times editor Dee Dee Fuentes and sports editor Dennis Silva, I wrote an occasional column and feature story for the LMT’s weekly 956 Sports Unlimited. I dusted off the old writing and reporting muscles and filled late evening and weekend time with my views of the sporting world and human universe around me. To say that I enjoyed the experience would be a gross understatement. At first I didn’t know if anyone was reading, but as the weeks progressed, I found that my words had an audience, and as Meg has always believed, there is a segment of Laredo out there that appreciates reflections on this community that we love so much. Alas, Fuentes and Silva are off to different challenges, and I am once again a free lancer searching for a home. The general rule in writing is to write about what you know. That means that I will mostly write about sports and the world of border athletics. Many of my pieces will ring historical, and others, I hope, will provoke action.

I come from a printer’s tradition in which my grandfather Gregorio and my father Gregorio came home to 1707 San Eduardo, the site of two humble houses where my grandparents and my parents lived in the early 1960s. Both men smelled of printers’ ink, a scent that is difficult to describe but remains with you forever. I followed that smell to my father’s workplace and rolled and threw newspapers and “baratas” at The South Texas Citizen on Convent and then The Laredo Citizen on Santa María. I have a ton of memories of dusky Thursday evenings in the back of my father’s pickup with my brothers and friends as we delivered routes in the Heights and north Laredo. Seated in the front of the truck were my dad and his lifelong buddy Agustin Dovalina Jr. Back at the shop were writers like William Hall Sr., Billy Hall, Matias Arambula, Odilon Arambula, Elizabeth Sorrell, and Roberto San Miguel. Most of them were part-time and guest writers, infected by that love of writing and in need of that fix of printers’ ink. By the time I left Our Lady Of Guadalupe School for L. J. Christen Junior High, I found my first sports writing assignment on the Cubs Tales newspaper supervised by Ms. Annie Barrientos. I developed a love for poetry and prose with Laura Rendon, the coolest teacher at L.J. Christen. Next I was off to Martin High School where I fell under the trance of legendary Ann Shanks who gave me my own sports column, brought LMT sports editor Salo Otero to my class, and made sure that I got a healthy glimpse of the world of journalism. She retired at the end of my junior year, and Sandra Mendiola guided me

to UIL journalism writing competition, shifting my sports mentality to overall writing. Famed attorney Charlie Borchers came to my high school civics class and told us that he had studied English literature in college on his way to getting a law degree, because you needed to get a degree in something that you loved. I loved journalism. Next came the University of Texas at Austin and admission to one of the best journalism schools in the country and an opportunity to write a couple of features for The Daily Texan, the paper of the school’s renowned journalism program. After being admitted to the University of Michigan Law School, I came home for the summer and worked with the great Carmina Dannini at The Laredo News. There I worked with yeoman photographers like Cuate Santos and Richard Geissler. The last summer during law school I worked for The Laredo Morning Times where Daninni and Santos had come to roost along with good UT buddy Gloria Padilla. I married my wife Mary Lou (an English literature major, go figure!) and then moved back to Laredo to start my legal career and had three children along the way. I’ve written here and there on websites, magazines, and for press releases for the theatrical shows that my kids are in. I began writing for a publication when I was 12 years old, and that printers’ ink has mixed with the Laredo water deep in my soul. In the coming months I hope to bring you stories of the Laredo around us. Thanks, Meg, for letting me share my voice with your readership. ◆

www.laredosnews.com W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

45


Feature This is an installment in a series of narratives about the diocesan History of Laredo, from its founding in 1755 to the present. BY JOSÉ ROBERTO JUÁREZ LareDOS Contributor

L

A diocesan chronicle: 1874 to 1911 visit the families, and help the sick. The sisters were to have left on March 3, but Masonic lodge members created problems and bad weather forced them to stay a few days longer. The tejanos began to arrive at the railroad station at 4 a.m., and the Sisters got there at 9 p.m. Some 300 persons disconnected the railroad coach carrying the nuns for 20 feet, shouting “Let the Bishop go.” The nuns could not stay without the Bishop’s permission. Mayor Parker and a large number of police were unable to control the masses which numbered 3,000. Parker asked the Bishop to intervene but the Bishop answered that it would not be prudent to expose himself to the insults

aredo became part of the new Vicariate Apostolic of Brownsville formed from the Diocese of Galveston in 1874. Dominic Manucy was the first Bishop of Brownsville. He served from 1874 to 1884. Unfortunately, even before his consecration on December 8, 1874 he wrote a letter to the Freeman’s Journal of Montgomery, Alabama. He complained that “… I look upon the appointment to Brownsville as Vicar Apostolic as the worse sentence that could be passed on me for any crime!” Brownsville district was a “country without resources and the Catholic population” was “composed almost exclusively of Mexican greasers — drovers and ladrones. No money could be got out of such people not [even] to bury their fathers!” Liberal Mexican President Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada banished 22 Sisters of Charity and threepriests to escort them to Brownsville on February 22, 1875. The tejanos were delighted with the nuns and asked Bishop Manucy to allow the Sisters to stay for six months or a year and they were to sustain them. Manucy answered that he did not have money for the Sisters of Charity and they would interfere with the cloistered Sisters of Incarnate Word and the Oblate priests. The Bishop felt he Vicar Apostolic Dominic Manucy could not decide without the authorization of the Mexican ecclesiastical authorities to allow the of gross and undisciplined individuals. Sisters to stay. The Bishop told the mayor to inform The tejanos knew that the Sisters of the 3,000 souls that he would promise Charity would be excellent teachers, to invite the Sisters to return as circum-

4 6 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

stances allowed. 1896, therefore, Bishop Verdaguer had The tejanos returned the railroad car St. Peter’s Church built for the Angloand allowed the train to continue to Americans. The Bishop also constructed Point Isabel. The promise never came. For the first time, the Bishop visited ranches close by and saw the “primitive” life of poor Mexicans. The tejanos gave him a cold shoulder and after seven months Manucy moved his the seat of the bishop to Corpus Christi in September 1875. Holding Institute, originally known as Laredo Seminary, was founded in 1880 at Laredo by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, founded for the instruction of Mexican children. Manucy was born in St. Most Rev. Pedro Verdaguer de Prat Augustine, Florida, son of Pedro and María Lorenzo Manucy, and educated in Mobile, Ala- Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Church bama. in 1897 to serve the parishioners in what At the end of Bishop Manucy’s term was then north Laredo. Cristo Rey was Father Claude C. Jaillet served as Vicar built to the east in the Heights. The westGeneral of Brownsville from 1885 to ern part of the city, thanks to the gener1890. osity of “a Catholic from the northern San Agustín was raised to the cat- part of the United States,” had El Divino egory of pro-cathedral when a Spanish Redentor Church built in 1909. In 1894, Catalán, Pedro Verdaguer, was appoint- the Religious Sisters of Mercy initiated ed as Apostolic Vicar of Brownsville in the work that led to the establishment of 1890. Verdaguer came to a Laredo which Mercy Hospital. had changed drastically. In 1881-82 four In 1905, Verdaguer added to the railroads converged in Laredo — the priests’ rectory that was built in 1885 in Texas-Mexican from Corpus Christi, the the Mexican vernacular style prevalent International and Great Northern from in Laredo. San Antonio and St. Louis, the FerrocarBishop Verdaguer was known as riles Nacionales de México from central “El Obispo Ranchero.” He was beloved Mexico, and the Río Grande and Eagle by Laredoans and all his flock. After 20 Pass. years as Bishop he passed away in 1911 By 1890, Laredo’s population had while on a Confirmation tour near Mergrown from 2,053 in 1828 to 11,319, in- cedes. He is buried in a mausoleum in cluding many English monolinguals. In our Catholic Cemetery. ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


South Texas Food Bank BY SALO OTERO

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

BY SALO OTERO

T

he South Texas Food Bank mission of feeding the hungry has been taken to a new field — two fields, in fact. One is a community garden at Mission Luterana Agua Viva Church in El Cenizo and the other a pecan harvesting experience for several Laredo teenagers on the old. Richter family ranch off Highway 83. What started as an 11-bed garden behind the Lutheran church at 3520 Cecilia Lane almost two years ago is now into other lots in the rural community south of Laredo. The goal is to have 30 beds growing produce, noted Jaime Arizpe, regional coordinator for the Office of Border Affairs of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. As a member of the South Texas Food Bank (STFB) board, Arizpe got the STFB involved. Agua Viva Church opened a Kids Café called Pan DeVida almost two years ago. Kids Café provides an after school meal to needy children. Agua Viva pastor Mariana Mendez has used produce from the garden for meals to feed the almost 100 attending Monday through Friday. The community garden program is coordinated by the University of Texas Pan American Rural Enterprise Development in cooperation with the Buckner Foundation and the Texas A&M Prairie View Co-Op Extension. The Texas A&M International University Students in Free Enterprise are also involved. El Cenizo resident and former farmhand Tomas Hernandez, 82, has been involved since day one as W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Community gardens flourish, pecan harvest feeds the hungry a volunteer, bringing a wealth of garden experience. He has helped in the community garden, planting cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, carrots, and other items. “I know a little bit about it,” he beamed. “By 7 a.m. I’m here ‘en fuego’ (on fire and ready to go).” Additional planting beds are in progress at a lot along the Rio Grande. A $5,000 Home Depot grant helped buy garden beds, tools, seed, and other materials. During a garden tour by STFB representatives, Hernandez pointed to some new produce that includes broccoli, radishes, beets, cauliflower, squash, melons, and chile peppers. “Esto es puro bueno (This is all good),” he said, eyeing the greenery. Fruit trees might also be planted soon. Arizpe noted, “The Buckner Foundation, a Dallas-based group, has a program through its children and family services division geared to colonia residents becoming more self sufficient.” The gardens are helping feed residents of El Cenizo and Río Bravo in the South Texas Food Bank Kids Café and elderly programs. “The STFB is about building cooperatives like this one with the goal of reaching our mission of feeding the hungry,” said a food bank spokesperson. “We are not just a food bank, but a non-profit looking to better the lifestyle of our residents.” About the pecans harvested in November, STFB executive director Alfonso Casso Jr. noted, “We especially thank the Richter family — Chuck and his wife Gayle, David, and his wife Ginger for allowing us

On the banks of the Río Grande on their farm to gather pecans from the 80-to-100-year-old trees their grandfather planted years ago. Also, thanks to the Border Patrol (North sector) for bringing their Explorer troop to help and Roy García with the City of Laredo Community Development Community Service who also brought kids to help harvest. It was a tremendous experience for them. The harvesters collected 492 pounds of pecans to help feed our needy families.” The need is great in the STFB service area as reported in the program numbers by Casso and STFB chief financial officer Mike Kazen during the February board meeting. The food bank distributed to a record 24,122 families per month in 2011. Families receiving assistance were 289,463 compared to 263,736 in 2010. The 2011 total reflects there were

236,828 children, 465,370 adults and 691,624 meals served. To start 2012, 886,133 pounds were distributed in January, which is up from 871,988 pounds in the same month last year. The food bank distributed 9.7 million pounds in 2011. Program reports for January: Adopt a family — 633 families on file with 535 bags distributed and 85 on a waiting list. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) mainly for the elderly had 6,944 individuals served with 87 on a waiting list. The SNAP outreach program (formerly Food Stamps) registered 395, representing 584 adults and 639 children. Kids Cafes served 13,949 after school meals to 697 children Monday through Friday. The 2011 total was 191,435 meals. Walk-in emergency bags were 130, representing 240 adults and 185 children. ◆ LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

47


Feature

20th Annual Secretaries Luncheon and style show promises fun and high fashion for a noble cause BY MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

H

onoring the Past, a 20 th Anniversary Salute to Laredo Businesses and Secretaries” is the theme of the annual gala and fashion show sponsored by the Volunteer Services Council (VSC) of the state-funded Border Region Behavioral Health Center (BRBHC). The much anticipated event is set for Wednesday, April 25 at the Laredo Country Club. Organizers note that it will begin promptly at 11:30 a.m. The event is a major fundraiser for the non-profit VSC for services

for individuals with a mental illness or an intellectual and developmental disability. The VSC provides funds for clothes, eyeglasses, extraneous medical exams, transportation to exams, supplies and classes for the BRBHC arts in health care program, and other costs the center cannot cover. Famous after two decades for its noble cause and its allegiance to camp, humor, fashion, and showcasing local dance and music talent, the Secretaries Day show and luncheon has become a favorite of secretaries, bosses, and the general public. The event includes a raffle for original art, a perfume basket, a wine basket, and a $500 HEB shopping card.

The raffle art includes work by Norita Montemayor, Jessica Diez Barroso, Gayle Rodriguez, and participants of the BRBHC arts program. Community members and clients of the BRBHC will model ensembles provided by SteinMart and Polly Adams. Marilyn De Llano, vice-president of the VSC and a longtime advocate for mental health efforts in Laredo and Webb County, is producing the event with the assistance of Gayle Rodriguez. Rene Garza, Paul Foster, and Gene Granados are assisting De Llano and Rodriguez with music for the event. Sandy Peerman and Jessica Diez Barroso are coordinating the choreography. Priscilla Beckelhyner, Norita Montemayor, Paty Figueroa, and Yolanda Venegas are seeing to the fashion fittings. “The entertainment is being finalized,” said De Llano. Musical numbers as of press time include Dolly Parton’s paean to secretaries, “Nine to Five,” which will be performed by VSC publicity coordinator Jo-Ann Kahn. Other performances include “We Are the Champions,” an homage to local athletes; and “South Pacific,” “California Girl,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Beauty and the Beast” duet, and “I Got You, Babe.” The show includes a tribute to three iconic and tragic figures in entertainment who struggled with substance abuse — Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Amy Winehouse. The finale, “You’ve Got to Have Faith,”

includes a performance by clients of BRBHC. The United High School Lariettes will perform “One” from A Chorus Line. VSC President Molly Martinez said the annual event is the result of a great deal of teamwork for a common cause. “This is one of the largest undertakings in our history. It has evolved from something that started at a residence 20 years ago and has grown year after year.” Martinez said that 11 loyal supporters of the annual event will be honored this year, including Conoco Phillips, G.G. Salinas, Inc., District Attorney Chilo Alaniz, Carranco & Lawson, Sames Motor Company, Powell Watson Motors, Dr. Ike’s, CPA Felix Velasquez, Guillermo Benavides, Falcon International Bank, and the Webb County Probation Office. “We are able to do this year after year because of the collaborative effort of many and because Laredoans are generous in their support of our work,” De Llano said, adding, that the importance of the annual event is heightened by “state and federal cutbacks that are evident everywhere in programs that offer care for those with mental illness Tickets for the event are $65 for individuals and $650 for a table for 10. For reservations or for further information, call Kathleen Seitel at (956) 794-3240; Molly Martinez at (956) 724-2300; Ardith Epstein at (956) 723-8950; and Adriana Ramos

Can’t find a hard copy? Go to www.laredosnews.com

4 8 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Review

BY MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

I

’ve just set down a copy of the Fall 2011 edition of the Conchos River Review, the literary anthology published by the English Department of Angelo State University. I’ve had the pleasure of reading the 16 pages of George Neel Jr.’s short story “The Way It Had to Be.” Set on the South Texas ranchlands on the eve of a young Marine’s departure for combat in Korean in the 1950s, this is a rich and well told story about what we gather up to move ourselves from the protective familiarity of the life we know and love to answer a call to duty, and in doing so, to take on a life of unknown dangers and variables. The beauty of Neel’s prose is that it is even-handed, most of the drama told in the simple act of one last morning fishing on the grassy shore at Willow Pond on a South Texas ranch. Neel does not have to dip his pen into the inkwell of sorrow to find the words for all the possible tragic outcomes — there’s plenty of it implied in the subtle exchanges between the protagonist Joe and the protective ranch

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

foreman Santiago; and in exchanges with a former high school football teammate, now a casualty of the same battle that Joe will join; and Joe’s girlfriend Cynthia, who does not want him to leave. Conflicts abound, but not a single one of them big enough to keep Joe from boarding a bus the next day to join his platoon for deployment to Korea. It is on the lush Bermuda grass carpet of Willow Pond that this story builds to its dénouement as the young soldier fishes for the lunch he will share with Santiago who is en route to the pond by horseback. It is here that Neel’s narrative shines like the bright, good thing that it is. The reader is transported pond-side to hear the last yip of the coyotes just after daybreak, to see and smell the pond, and to see the inside of Joe’s tackle box and to understand why he has chosen the red and white lure with “three gangs of treble hooks.” It is the beautiful specimen of a female large mouth bass at the end of Joe’s line, splendid in size and fat with the eggs of her progeny — and what Joe will do with her — that shade in the story about the sensibilities of the tender-hearted soldier. Though Santi-

José Ramírez

George Neel Jr.’s short story — a literary whopper told on the eve of departing for the Korean conflict

ago encourages him to throw the bass in the pan for lunch, Joe disengages her carefully from the hooks, methodically weighs her (8.5 pounds) with the portable scale in his tackle box, and returns her — to Santiago’s dismay — to Willow Pond. Four smaller fish, now filleted, will meet the sizzle of lard in the pan over the campfire Santiago has made. The men enjoy their lunch of fish tacos, a pot of coffee, and some empanadas de

piña that Santiago’s wife made. Santiago rides off, and Joe is left to doze at the edge of the pond, to drink in the glorious overhead sight of a vee-formation of geese headed north, to contemplate the importance of the fish he put back into Willow Pond, to take a last look at the rise and fall of the terrain that channels rainfall into the tank, and to hear himself say it will be 15 months before he will see this place again.

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

49


News

T

hree graduate students from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University at College Station spent part of their Spring Break in Laredo for a mission trip hosted by the Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC). Their area of interest was the border and environmental issues affecting this part of South Texas. Dinorah Sánchez, student group leader, is a second year student from Baytown. Accompanying her were Ramon González of Nuevo Laredo – also a second year student (both graduate in May) – and Jack Huguley, a first year student from Shreveport, La. RGISC’s goal in hosting the graduate policy students is to make this visit an annual event, and to create a strong connection between the Bush School

5 0 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

and Laredo/RGISC. Sánchez and González are both focusing on state and local government, with Sanchez hoping to go into city management. Gonzalez will begin law school in the fall at George Washington University. Huguley is focusing on international relations with a focus on the nature and behavior of countries. He is especially interested in China. When the students arrived March 10, RGISC board members held a welcome dinner and presented them with their itinerary for the next few days. On March 11, they visited with Dr. Jim Earhart and Tricia Cortez of RGISC to learn more about the organization and environmental concerns in Laredo. They then headed out to the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center and worked on the Paso del Indio trail, and potted native plants at the

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

TAMU Bush grad students learn of border, environmental issues

Jack Huguley, Ramon González, and Dinorah Sánchez on-site nursery. Students met with Tom Miller, director of the center, and veteran Laredo Community College biology instructor Rukmani Kuppuswami. The following day, students worked with Dr. Earhart and Cortez on formulating two solid surveys for RGISC’s joint effort with the City of Laredo to reduce the use of plastic bags in Laredo. One survey will be for retailers, and the other for the general population. Afterward, students met with other RGISC board members Dr. Rudy Rincon and Victor Oliveros at the UT Health Science Center – Laredo campus where they received a briefing on the development of colonias in South Texas. They toured colonias along Hwy 359, and in Rio Bravo and El Cenizo. On Tuesday, March 13, students visited with Judge Oscar J. Hale Jr. of the 406th District Court. Students learned about Hale’s efforts to build a drug court program and how the district courts in Laredo manage and share a growing civil and criminal docket. Afterward, students met with Carl Schwing, assistant director of the city’s

water utilities department, who provided a full briefing on Laredo’s water and wastewater needs. They learned about the city’s many ongoing projects to increase capacity as well as efforts to lower the amount of water consumed per person per day. Laredoans presently consume an astounding 200 gallons per person per day. The students traveled with RGISC board member Meg Guerra to San Ygnacio and Zapata to visit two largescale commercial operations – located in a remote part of the Zapata County – that take in massive quantities of oilfield waste from the Eagle Ford Shale. They also learned how the community of San Ygnacio recently united and garnered a victory in stopping another similar waste dump from being constructed in their small, historic town. They had a chance to observe the river from a bluff in Zapata and at Falcon Lake. On the way back, they stopped at a new café/bakery in Zapata called HeBrews to taste freshly made semita and expertly brewed cappuccino. - LareDOS Staff

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


LAPS

LAPS returns to original mandate of education, spay/neuter effort

A

s 2012 rolls along, the Laredo Animal Protective Society (LAPS) is in the midst of change. We look to the future with anticipation and hope. We are grateful to LareDOS for the opportunity to write a monthly column to keep Laredoans informed as to the exploding and overwhelming problem of stray animals in Laredo and some of the planned solutions. The primary change occurring as this article goes to print is that negotiations are underway for LAPS to lease a portion of its privately owned property to the City so that they can take on the responsibility for control of stray animals and bite observation cases. LAPS will retain the use of the rest of our property. We are cooperating with the City in the effort to have an on-site

spay and neuter clinic. The shelter will be seeking donations and holding fundraising events for the $35,000 needed to equip the clinic with its basic necessities. As the City takes on the impound responsibilities, LAPS will return to our original mandate which is to educate the public in the humane treatment of animals, concentrate on spaying and neutering of Laredo’s dogs and cats, and to provide healthy animals for adoption. We are most grateful to the United Way of Laredo for their contributions which allow us to offer $75 discount vouchers for the spaying or neutering of any dog or cat in Laredo. Anyone wishing to take advantage of this program may call 724-8364 on the day of the vet appointment and the discount voucher will be faxed to their vet. We ask the public to please continue to spay and neuter their dogs and cats,

and we thank all of our loyal donors for their support and understanding as to the immensity of this task.

Courtesy photo by Jacque Frank

BY CATHY KAZEN AND JENNIE REED

Our main goal will be to continue to address the overwhelming problem of stray animals in Laredo. â—†

The new Puppy Palace was built with a donation from the South Texas Outreach Foundation. The artists are Jessica Tovar and Lydia de los Santos.

klrn.org

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

51


Serving Sentences BY RANDY KOCH

O

n a warm Sunday afternoon in September 1981, I stood behind the counter of the Pitstop, a narrow, wooden, 100-year-old building with two plate glass windows facing Lamberton’s Main Street. It still had the tin ceiling, but instead of mirrors, sinks, barber chairs, and a bell over the door, it now contained a pool table, three pinball machines, a foosball table, a juke box blaring Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and the newest video game, Pacman. I pulled a steaming Tombstone pizza from the small silver oven on the counter, slid it from the rack onto the round cardboard from the package, and cut it into eight wedges. I carried it to the booth in the back where “Buffy” Burns chalked his cue and Randy Tordsen squinted through his thick glasses as he lined up a shot at the side pocket. “Put your money up,” Buffy said as I took the cash from the table for the pizza. He jabbed me with the thick end of his cue. I pushed the bills in a pocket on the front of the Zieske’s Lumber Yard apron tied around my waist. “I’d just kick your ass anyway,” I said over my shoulder as Tordsen eased the seven in the side. I walked back to the front. Julie stood at the end of the counter near the upright freezer. She wore white tennis shoes, blue jeans that curved around her thighs and hips, a black button-up blouse. Her hair lit by the late sun coming through the windows looked reddish-brown. As I walked by her, I leaned over her shoulder. She held the cards fanned out in her hand against her chest. She looked up at me. “Is that the only way you can beat me? By cheating?” She smiled, her

5 2 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

The haircut was a ploy; I could not gauge the inadequacy of our imagination cheeks rising, her dark eyes squinting. I first noticed her during the summer when she and her sisters Lolly and Teresa, who came from West St. Paul to visit their grandparents, walked into the Pitstop one weekend. Julie seemed urban, streetwise, exotic. And despite — or maybe because of —being the subject of local rumors, she was also the object of my flirtations. “Shit,” I said, “I can make pizza, count out change, run this place, and beat you all at the same time.” I picked up my hand, drew from the pile, and discarded. “Is that right?” She picked up my discard. A small asymmetrical blue-green cross was tattooed on her left wrist. She grinned, tucked the card into her hand,

hung up their cues, I shut off the pinball machines and Pacman game, grabbed the money bag, heavy with quarters, off the top of the freezer, turned out the lights, and locked the front door. My brown 1970 Plymouth Gran Fury stood out front. Earlier, in the midst of some teasing, Julie offered to cut my hair, so now we got in, rolled down the windows, and with Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” on the eight-track player, I drove down a deserted Main Street. At the elementary school, we turned west. Shadows cast by the late afternoon sun flickered through the branches of elms and maples and dappled the broad windshield. I turned south on Douglas and parked in front of the small white house I rented for $75 a month.

“The world arises from naming and naming itself is the product of hilarity, invention, fortuitous accident, the elsewhere and elsewhat and elsewho, the imagination. So too darkness, the sense of desertion, profound isolation, inadequacy, that you will never be loved enough no not ever.” —Dean Young from The Art of Recklessness

pulled another off the end, and laid it face-down on the pile. “Gin,” she said and spread her cards in front of her. “Oh, crap,” I moaned and pitched my hand on the counter. “Again?” She nudged my cards around with the end of the pen, counted, and shook her head. “That’s not very good, Randy,” she said as she wrote on the notepad. I pushed the cards at her. “Winner deals.” She gathered the deck and shuffled. I watched her, and when she lifted her eyes, we smiled, not about the game or her teasing but about something nameless transpiring in the air between us. At 6 p.m. when Buffy and Tordsen

Inside, the light from the round fluorescent tube on the kitchen ceiling reflected off the glossy white walls. I pulled a chair from the table and sat down with my back to the window, the shade drawn. “You sure you know what you’re doing?” Julie stood in front of me with the scissors in her right hand, smiled, and combed my hair back with her left. I felt little ripples of air on my face as her arm moved back and forth. We both knew the haircut was a ploy, the scissors a prop designed only to give it some credence, the comb breaching the final distance between us before I put my hand on her hip and drew her to

me. The scissors fell to the floor behind us. In the months that followed, I never felt I could get close enough to her, even when sitting thigh to thigh in the car or feeling her cheek pressed to my chest. I wanted to be so close that I was inside of her, merged with her. Not just that physical, intoxicating entrance that made me stumble out of my brain, throb so I was nothing but pulse. No, she made me want to slip into her as if swung off a rope into a cool lake, as if fading into a dream, as if I were her memory waiting to be recalled. What I felt for Julie was instinctual, genetic. What I felt was imprinted on me with the certainty of a migratory route. The next spring we drove to West St. Paul to visit her family — her dad Butch, her mom Mary, Teresa and Lolly, two older brothers Mike and Paul, and the youngest, Willis, Jr., who everyone called Choppers. One afternoon, Julie and I followed Mike upstairs and sat on the edge of his bed. He had black hair and the shadow of a thin mustache and wore a white wife beater, a large tattoo covering his right shoulder. “Watch this,” Julie said to me. Then, Mike, his face grave and his eyes fixed on me, stood in the middle of his bedroom and swung nun-chucks — links clicking, bars whirling around his shoulders, behind his back, from hand to hand. I couldn’t name what his performance meant or foretold, couldn’t think beyond Julie’s fingers threaded with mine. I didn’t see the coming complications, the desertion I eventually felt and provoked. I could not gauge the inadequacy of our imaginations. Faster and faster, the nun-chucks blurred, like a baton twirled by a manic cheerleader trying frantically to keep up with the music. ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Opinion

Moving can be a bust, but it can enrich you, too BY DENISE FERGUSONLareDOS Contributor

D

uring a high school English literature class, we studied the tribulations of a literary character who had moved to a new location. The teacher suddenly broke off the discussion to ask, “How many of you have ever relocated?” Of the eight students who raised their hands, the teacher asked, “How many of you liked your new neighborhood?” Two students raised their hands. The teacher related the emotional concerns of the remaining disenchanted students to those of the story’s character. Apparently, the devil you know is preferable to the devil you don’t know. The subject of relocation stress is the subject of articles in pop culture literature and video. I myself had a classic mean girls experience in the fourth grade. I had started off at a Pawtucket, Rhode Island school which had been built five years previously and accommodated K-12. It was a beautiful school, most of the teachers were congenial, and I was happily integrated into the social network of my fellow classmates. Then the other shoe dropped. With the help of close relatives, my parents managed to purchase a 40-year-old house in a Pawtucket neighborhood that was actually more decadent than my current one, and less diverse ethnically. As we drove by the prospective school, I discovered that it was about 80-years-old and looked like it was a haven for evil witches. The first thing my new home room teacher did was to announce to the students, “Denise has all A’s on her report card!” She might as well have said, “From this day on, we shall all detest Denise!” The Mean Girls script had begun. To add to the dilemma, the classes rotated among three teachers according to subject matter, which was new to me. The coup de grâce was the fact that the old, dank and dreary school was academi-

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

cally accelerated beyond the level of my previous one. My days involved taking social and academic pummeling from three teachers and the long-reigning top student and her posse. As spring approached, the three teachers summoned my mother to announce that they were thinking of retaining me in fourth grade. My mother warned them to stop the attacks, teach the kids some manners, and do their jobs. Things improved after my mother’s visit. The teachers were less hostile and became more innovative in their attempts to bring me up to date. In particular, my fifth grade math teacher Miss Ryan regularly matched me with an amiable classmate for long division practice, and suddenly I mastered it. My confidence returned. My overall grades rose, and in sixth grade I graduated second in my class, just under the smartest and meanest girl. So, by age 10, I had learned that an ethnic group is perfectly ca pable of swallowing its own alive if they are so inclined, as most of the children involved were of the same ethnicity as I was. Other than one bully experience, my junior high years went reasonably well. From there, the school system directed us back to my original school to complete my education. But, as the expression goes — be careful for what you wish. When I arrived back at my early childhood school, I found that my old friends had changed, I had changed, and the ambience of the school had changed. Several years later, as a science teacher at a Rhode Island public school, I was offered a National Science Foundation grant to Union College in Schenectady for six weeks of advanced study. I found I was assigned to an all-black female floor of a dormitory, not intentionally so designated. My fellow grantees were from South Carolina and Georgia. I had initial concerns that I was about to be involved in a mean girls script, but that did not happen. The group of eight young wom-

en teachers welcomed me with typical southern hospitality, and it was ultimately their consistent support that allowed me to master challenging physics and astronomy courses. They also invited to me to join them in visits to the college Rathskeller and short trips to the city. Some of us remained pen pals for years after. All this came to mind when I recently heard the well-publicized opinions of a woman who had trouble adapting to Laredo. While most of us do indulge in vitriolic outbursts at stressful times in our lives, venting on Facebook might result in an outright horror show. If the complainant was in any way connected with the military assigned to Laredo to protect us with their own lives, I think they should be given a pass for public venting. After all, what greater stress is there than realizing that your spouse or child might not ever come home from work? My husband and I never looked back after leaving Rhode Island in 2003. Our last 12 years there had overseen the last illnesses of our parents. Now, we were looking forward to a new life in Houston. The aura of our move was a joyous one — not full of trepidation and fear. Houston turned out to be a giant replica of Rhode Island with its multiple ethnicities and its nearby ocean, and it even exhibited some splendid oak trees. “Welcome to Texas,” was a common greeting from those who knew we were new to town. From there we relocated to Janesville, Wisconsin — quite a contrast. An apartment manager screamed at me when I asked if dogs were allowed. People initially acted suspicious when they were getting to know us, and they liked to badger me about my physical appearance. But Janesville was one of the most beautiful places on earth, and we took the grumpies with it. When we were called to Laredo, we rebelled — much too hot, too many trucks, terrible congestion. As I worked to update my Spanish at the Janesville Blackhawk

Community College, the teacher told me that she had spent time in Laredo to master the language. Regretfully, I haven't mastered the language. Every time a Laredoan observes my struggle to find the correct words, he or she decides to either switch to English or use pantomime. Overall, I find the demeanor of the people of Laredo as supportive as the young southern women in Schenectady. I would advise the following for those who find themselves pining for past lives which do not mesh with current demands: try residing in an apartment with a one-year lease or less in order to study the dynamics of the region and to make the most comfortable ultimate choice. Make a new family if your “real” family is not nearby by joining Newcomers and Friends of Laredo (LaredoNewcomers. com), or choose one of the many houses of worship and social clubs. Volunteer with Sisters of Mercy, Habitat for Humanity, Laredo Literacy, Doctors Hospital or Laredo Medical Center, Voz de Niños, Laredo Animal Shelter, or environmental groups. Take part in sports or support local teams. Make use of the City’s low cost recreational activities as well as walking/ biking paths, pools, and trails. Enjoy the facilities offered by Texas A&M University and Laredo Community College in the arts, science, music, and theater, or take courses. Visit the beautiful Laredo historic districts,the Republic of the Río Grande Museum, and Fort McIntosh at LCC. Enjoy the monthly Farmers’ Market and get involved in festive activities. If all else fails, take a Zumba class! A recent Internet article by Nancy Colier — writer, public speaker, interfaith minister, and psychotherapist — said, “Well-being is an internal state, not dependent on external circumstances. The substance of well-being is our own compassionate presence — a compassion for what we are living now.” ◆

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

53


News Brief

M

SM Ranch Suppliers at 4410 E. Del Mar Boulevard (outside Loop 20) is offering boarding for

At LCC’s International Women’s Day celebration LareDOS publisher María Eugenia (Meg) Guerra, center, was honored at LCC South’s Seventh Annual International Women’s Day celebration on March 8 at the Billy Hall Student Center Community Suite. The event was sponsored by the Revolutionary Arts and Cultural Empowerment Club (RACE). Guerra is pictured with RACE sponsors and LCC faculty members Yadira Rodriguez and Mary Sue Galindo.

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

horses. Just a stone’s throw from the bustle of Del Mar as it meets the loop, MSM’S location has the feel of a rural setting. A quick tour evidenced impeccably clean stalls and some well-cared-for equine boarders. Jorge Mendez, a partner in MSM, said that none of the three packages offered include the cost of feed, which runs an additional $175 to $200 a month. A basic $225 boarding package includes feeding twice a day, clean stalls, a fly mask, a SimplFly supplement, going to the round pen once a week, a bath and hoof oil once a week, time on the walker, plenty of parking for trailers, and access to the 100’ by 200’ riding arena on the premises.

MSM’s $275 package includes all of the above and de-worming every eight weeks. The third package, which bears a $375 price tag includes a twice a week workout in the round pen, bathing twice a week, and shoeing every five weeks. “With the third package, the owner can call ahead so that we can have their horse saddled and ready. When they are finished riding, we’ll bathe the horse,” Mendez said. He added, “We are a straight shot down Del Mar. We look like we are out in the country, but we are not. We are, in fact, conveniently located for many of those who board horses with us.” Mendez said that MSM also boards 4-H and FFA project lambs and goats. “The kids can come out here to work with their animals,” he said. For more information on boarding at MSM, call Mendez at (956) 724-2222 or (956) 763-0810. ◆

Courtesy photo

MSM offers convenient boarding for horses

5 4 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


lcc_expo-ad2012Laredos-qtr pg.qxp

3/23/2012

9:10 AM

Page 1

0)%(* 4 / (4'4 * * ))(*,-'#,# +

3 34 34 34

#+(. *41(-*4#', * +,+ # 4('44&$(*4 #'4 &)%(1& ',4  !#+, *4,(4/#'4)*#2 +4

4," * 4) '4,(4," 4(&&-'#,1 4 4 

 ' +14)*#%44 

2 '4 (%% ! 4 ', *4 4&4,(44)&

4 

"-*+14)*#%44 #%%14%%4,- ',4 ', *4 4&4,(44)&

                 

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

 

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

55


Texas A&M International University

‘Reading the Globe’ posts Chilean travels BY STEVE HARMON LareDOS Contributor

A

group of 15 Texas A&M International University students rang in 2012 in a new country 4,600 miles away as part of TAMIU’s “Reading the Globe” program, a campus-wide read. Now, their experiences, thoughts, and images are available on TAMIU’s web site at tamiu.edu/spotlight. The site includes a student blog, a photo gallery, and a compilation video documenting the trip. The freshmen students traveled to Santiago in December. They were selected for the program after a competitive essay based on their reading of the University’s campus read selection, “Santiago’s Children: What I Learned About Life at an Orphanage in Chile,” by writer Steve Reifenberg. Reifenberg visited TAMIU in October. While in Chile, they visited the orphanage that was the setting for the book. In Santiago, they attended a series of academic lectures, visited Pablo Neruda’s house, met with faculty at the University of Bio Bio in Concepción, and learned about Chilean culture. As guests of host families, they had daily opportunities to become

5 6 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

immersed in Chilean social reality, international relations, history, and economics. TAMIU students participating in the study-travel project were Judith Abrego, Carolina Atilano, Alejandra Ortiz-Caballero, Joseph Dilworth, Uriel Domínguez, Sabrina Espinoza, Lisa Estrada, Selina Fuentes, Katherine Garza, José Jacobo, Leslie Martínez, Margaret Medellín, Francisco Palacios, Norma Nuñez, and Daniel Villalobos. Dr. Conchita Hickey, TAMIU executive director of TAMIU’s University College, said the trip was designed to highlight the realities of Chilean life. The students were especially moved by the chance to meet and provide gifts to the children of Casa Hogar, the home featured in Reifenberg’s book. This is the fourth TAMIU student group in the “Reading the Globe” program. Previous study-travel sites have included Poland, Ghana, and Cambodia. Spring Break at TAMIU Neumann University nursing students from Pennsylvania visited Laredo and Texas A&M International University as part of their clinical observation. Pictured from left to right are Vince Cucunato, Heather O’Donnell, Caitlin Lotty, Teresa Rush, and Katie Schneckerburger. ◆

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

Mariela Rodriguez/LareDOS

At the French Quarter Bazaar Dwayne McGee of Half Dead Oak Jewelry is pictured on February 25 with Mark Nix and Evelyn Perez, as they discussed the fundamental principles of jewelry making.

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

Contributor to Farias Military Museum fund Rancher Frank Staggs, pictured with Cordelia Flores, was thanked by local veterans for his generous $2,500 contribution to the fund for the construction of the Juan Francisco Farias Military Museum. They are pictured at a March 15 meeting at Los Generales.

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

57


Feature

THE TEJANO MONUMENT On the south lawn of the Capitol grounds, history stands corrected

T

here are so many aspects of the soon to be unveiled Tejano Monument that will have bearing for generations of Texans to come. There is the tangible – the sight of something that beautiful and artfully executed in so prominent a place on the Capitol grounds. The diorama of 11 bronze sculptures tells a story centuries in the making, a story long discounted and ignored by the official chroniclers of Texas history. And there is the intangible, the immeasurable conviction, commitment, and effort of that handful of present day Tejano visionaries who put the monument’s concept together idea by idea, worked at the arduous task of getting legislation passed, commissioned Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa, raised the money, and brought it to life as a major installation on the Statehouse grounds. The names of those men, members of the board of directors of the monument project — along with Armando Hinojosa’s – are now, too, committed to Tejano history: Dr. Cayetano Barrera, Homero Vera, Andres Tijerina, Renato Ramirez, and Richard P. Sanchez. Zapata banker Renato Ramirez, a man deeply rooted in a family legacy of South Texas ranching, is recognized as the rainmaker for the funds that got the monument built. “At the end of the 12-year journey, I feel relief that we got it done, proud to be a member of the team that overcame so many obstacles, gratitude to the many who believed in me and wrote big checks, admiration for the

5 8 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

many who contributed so much sweat equity to the project, and disappointed with the Hispanic leadership in many organizations that ignored my pleas for support. It is embarrassing that the entire population of the city of San Antonio, the cradle of Tejano history and Tejano culture, donated $600,” Ramirez said. In a December 2011 story in newstaco.com Ramirez quipped that while the decade of the monument-in-themaking was not a long time in the 500-year timeline of Tejano history, it was a long time to carry around a 250-ton statue. “The monument will be the topic of discussion in many circles for years to come. Hopefully, Tejanos will experience a renewal of self-esteem and pride in their heritage. The immediate, tangible impact is the Tejano history curriculum, which is being taught in Austin ISD and will hopefully expand to other school districts and universities,” Ramirez said. Thanks to a generous grant from Walmart and funding from the Renato and Patricia Ramirez family partnership, and IBC, the Tejano curriculum was developed at the University of Texas by Dr. Emilio Zamora in the Department of History and by Dr. Maria E. Franquiz and Dr. Cinthia Salinas in the Department of Education. David Hinojosa

BY MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA LareDOS Staff

Ramirez characterized this educational component as, “Quite a contrast from what is happening in Arizona and Alabama.” Dr. Andres Tijerina, a professor of history at Austin Community College and vice-president of the monument board, spoke with heartfelt praise for the work of his fellow board members over the last 12 years. “Cayetano was diligent, dedicated, and unswerving in his mission. Renato went into the fundraising with the tenacity of a bulldog — very effective. Richard ran through the halls of the Legislature taking care of diplomatic details, and Homero did the deep, detailed research that gave the monument and its figures historical authenticity.” Tijerina said that the commit-

ment and actions of the board members was such “that it was as if everyone of them had shouldered the entire responsibility” for the monument. He added, “None of us has ever stood to take the credit for everything he has done.” The educator said that there is meaning in every aspect of the Tejano Monument, and that it is accurate in minute detail. “The longhorns are modeled after Enrique Guerra’s cattle, registered DNA Texas longhorns, which are descendants of the original cattle his family brought here in the 1750s. Armando’s bronze longhorns are true to vein, hair, and hoof. The saddles, the CONTINUED ON PAGE 62

44

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Laredo Community College

BY MONICA MCGETTRICK

F

ollowing a tradition of helping students succeed, Laredo Community College is excited to introduce Maymester classes, which offer students a convenient way to complete developmental or state-required core courses in just three weeks. Students can attend classes Monday through Thursday or Friday through Sunday. These courses are a boon for students who wish to complete their developmental courses in order to be ready to take college-level courses by summer or fall. Students also can use financial aid to cover the cost of their May-mester classes. The May-mester courses schedule is online at www.laredo.edu under

the What’s New section. Students should remember that in order to register for classes, they must be advised. Students should schedule an appointment with their class advisor to make sure they are ready to enroll in May-mester classes. Registration is now in progress for classes that will run from May 14 through June 2. For students unable to take Maymester courses, online registration for summer sessions I and II, as well as the Fall 2012 Semester, begins April 16. For more information or to make an appointment with an advisor, contact the Student Success Center at 721-5135. Students with a declared major can contact their corresponding instructional department for advisement. ◆

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

May-mester courses offer convenience

In the Cesar Chavez march for justice The Danza Azteca Matachines were a beautiful, colorful part of the March 24 Cesar Chavez March for Justice. The matachines dance to venerate La Virgen de Guadalupe.

David Almaraz

David
 Almaraz
 graduated
 from
 St.
 Mary’s
 School
of
Law
in
1977.
He
received
his
B.A.
and
 his
M.A.
from
the
University
of
Texas
in
1972.
In
 1980,
he
was
appointed
Assistant
U.S.
Attorney
 for
the
Southern
District
of
Texas,
Laredo
Divi­ sion
where
he
was
the
federal
prosecutor
from
 1980­1985.
As
a
solo
practitioner
for
26
years,
 he
has
gained
recognition
for
his
passion
rep­ resenting
clients
all
over
Texas
and
the
United
 States.
As
ACLU
Chapter
President,
he
reminds
 jurors
and
judges
at
every
opportunity
that
the
 Bill
of
Rights
must
be
defended
in
spite
of
over­ zealous
prosecutors
who
tend
to
overlook
the
 4th,
5th
and
6th
Amendments.
He
is
a
member
 of
NACDL
and
TCDLA.

Almaraz
Bldg.,
1802
Houston Laredo,
Tx.
78040
P.O.
Box
6875 Email:
almaraz@netscorp.net Tel.
(956)
727­3828
Fax
(956)
725­3639

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

59


Courtesy Photo

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

6 0 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

At ESGR Awards Conference in Austin Adolfo “Pope� Gonzalez Jr., full time Active Guard Reservist with the 436th Chemical Company of the National Guard; Ron T. White, deputy executive director for the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR); and Adolfo Gonzalez Sr., chair of ESGR Area 13 are pictured at the recent ESGR conference in Austin.

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


Maverick Ranch Notes

BY BEBE & SISSY FENSTERMAKER

Rain and new heifers usher in Spring; work underway to clean Cibolo Creek

F

ebruary 29, still cloudy and they worked on the process to bring the the rain yesterday was pretty Upper Cibolo Creek into compliance light, but it rained, and we are with the EPA. This has been a two-year happy with it. March 10, two process headed up by Ryan Bass of the inches over the last two days. Won- City of Boerne who has gotten an almost derful stuff, and the ground is mushy impossible task done well. soft. At the beginning we joined a big Along with the rain come two very group of varied stakeholders because it small and cute red heifers. Romeo was a great opportunity to learn how to Yates is the sire and one mama is Es- actually get a stream cleaned up. There puma, and Birdsong is the other. The are many creeks in Bexar County in the little girls, born only four days apart, same shape, but we’d never seen such a have discovered each other and stick community effort as this one. Kendall together. They loyally followed their County folks are still rural enough to mothers through a driving rain this know what a clean stream means and afternoon. Tonight they are deep in want to do the right thing. Beginning hay in the green shed. with basic education, we moved on to We have now registered our Long- stream monitoring and then broke into horn cattle with the Cattlemen’s Texas groups based on our talents and interLonghorn Registry. I’ve mentioned ests. It is remarkable that there was no this organization before, but will say Sissy and I have continued our edu- finger-pointing by anyone during this again that CTLR is the only longhorn cation by helping the Cibolo Nature process. Everyone wanted to help and registry that first requires a visual test Center do stream and e-coli testing. did so. It was most generous of the folks done by longhorn authorities and a Cibolo Watershed data was collected of Kendall County to have allowed us to DNA test on all animals passing the vi- throughout the long process and now join them. -Bebe Fenstermaker sual test. We kept all our lineages on the hired consultants will put it all togethLonn Taylor, the Rambling Boy now cattle for 28 years, and that made some er. The other night we discussed what from West Texas, caught my attention of the paperwork easier. ranchers and farmers thought could be back when he was a columnist for the The DNA requirements are strict, done to keep contaminants out of the Desert-Mountain Times in Alpine. When ruling out any cross-breeds. That is Cibolo. Of course feral hog trapping that publication ceased operation the the big problem we’ve had with other came up and everyone agreed that trap- Marfa Big Bend Sentinel began publonghorn regislishing Lonn’s tries which have weekly columns. allowed quite a Now he has col“Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more slide away from lected some of passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, the real thing. those stories into I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.” Our cattle don’t a book, Texas My — Thomas de Quincey seem to notice the Texas: Musings of new change, but I The Rambling Boy do. that snatches the Night before last brought a hard ping one by one was useless. One ranch- reader up for the ride as he rambles all north wind, dropping temperatures er described his efforts to get the whole around Texas and sometimes beyond. and the wish to be home in bed. How- hog herd in a big trap at the same time We not only meet interesting people ever, Sissy and I joined Kendall County and said that was the only way he could from the past but also ones of today. rancher and landowner stakeholders as hold down the numbers. I found it hard to put my copy down

W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

even to do necessary chores. Lonn will have a book signing in San Antonio, Sunday, April 1, at 3:00 p.m. at the Twig Bookstore in the Pearl complex. The book signing will be for Texas My Texas: Musings of The Rambling Boy and for Texas Furniture Volume I: The Cabinetmakers and Their Work, 1840-1880, which is being reissued. He coauthored that book with David Warren in 1975. Lonn has had an interesting life, and West Texas is lucky he chose to retire there with his wife, Dedie, after 20 years as a historian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Washington, DC. Prior to that, he was curator and director at UT Austin’s Winedale Historical Center and curator and deputy director of the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe. He has also authored and coauthored several other books. He is fun to talk to and listen to, and I hope he has a million more stories to record. - Sissy Fenstermaker LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

61


rope, the pistol are accurate duplicates of real artifacts in Mr. Guerra’s collection,” Tijerina said. According to Tijerina, the monument’s figures will be unveiled on March 29 by children who are direct descendants of the Balli, Guerra, Navarro, and De Leon families and by the children of the monument’s board members and the writers of the Tejano curriculum. Sculptor Armando Hinojosa said that now that the installation is complete with “grass, landscaping and bronze plaques,” he’s “letting things sink in.” He said the work of the Tejano Monument has great meaning for him, and that to date it is his most significant work. “I’m happy it’s done, but I’m sad, too,” Hinojosa said, adding, “This has been such important work. There were some stops and starts with the fundraising and with the whole process of bringing the monument to life, but working with that group of individuals was incredible. They knew what they wanted, where they wanted the monument, and they were determined, proud, and hard working.” Hinojosa said that in recent days as he has looked at the installation up close and from afar, he gets a sense of the magnitude of what has been accom-

plished and he feels the pride of having been part of the telling of so large and long overdue a story. “It’s humbling,” he said. Hinojosa said he is proud that his work will be seen by thousands of visitors who tour the Capitol grounds. He’s proud, too, he said, to share the 22-acre parkland with the work of the late Italian sculptor Pompeo Coppini who modeled the statue of Jefferson Davis and other figures for the Confederate monument. Coppini was also the sculptor of the Littlefield Fountain Memorial at the University of Texas. Ramirez said his feelings on the eve of the unveiling of the Tejano Monument are best expressed by Dr. Manuel Flores at TAMU-Kingsville — “For Tejanos and all Texans, the unveiling of the Tejano Monument should be more than a historical experience. It should signal the dawn of a new era where Texas finally recognizes its roots and honors the founders of the legacy that has become the Lone Star State. It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of an old Tejano-Mexicano. Por fin, justicia y reconocimiento de los verdaderos fundadores de esta gran región. We are Españoles, Mexicanos, Mestizos, y Tejanos ready to lead Texas to a new and grand destiny.” On the south lawn of the Capitol grounds, history stands corrected. ◆

Courtesy photo

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 58

Pecan harvest benefits STFB Roy García is pictured with some of the volunteers who harvested nearly 500 pounds of pecans at the Richter Farm. The harvest benefited the Laredo Food Bank. Volunteers included Border Patrol Explorers from the USBP North Sector.

Informed,
well­read voters. Call
Meg
Guerra
at
(956)
319­8001 
(email
meg@laredosnews) or
Call
Mace
Martinez
at
(56)
645­2441 for
our
political
advertising
rates. 6 2 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Who reads

TSTA/NEA, unions come together in Chavez march Sergio Mora, Hilario Cavazos, and Ernest Davila are pictured at the March 24 Cesar Chavez March for Justice, proponents for the educational needs of children.

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

LareDOS I M A R C H 2012 I

63


6 4 I LareDOS I M A R C H 2012

W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M


LareDos March Issue