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Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price. Joan Didion


Est. 1994

Vol. XVII No. 13 64 PAGES


LareDOS Newspaper

INSIDE Wounded warriors find solace on South Texas hunts Page 10

RGISC, World Wildlife Fund address state of the Río Grande Page 11

Downtown preservation: re-imagining Laredo Page 28

4th Annual Birding Festival plans local and ranch field trips Page 60

Coming Up: Jamboozie Map Page 41

WBCA Schedule Page 30


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Visiting journalist Canadian freelance journalist Dawn Paley stopped by the offices of LareDOS en route to warmer southern climes, where she plans to rest and write.

The best kept secret in Laredo PUBLISHER

María Eugenia Guerra WRITER

Cristina Herrera

Read at


María Eugenia Guerra


Juan Alanis Bebe Fenstermaker Sissy Fenstermaker Denise Ferguson Neo Gutierrez Jason Herrera

Laura Dávila Randy Koch José Antonio López Jesus Najar Salo Otero Mariela Rodríguez LAYOUT/DESIGN

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1, 2 and 3 bedroom floorplans available. Prices starting at $725 Town houses and corporate suites also available For more information, please contact: 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

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War on Poverty has become ‘war on poor’ BY JOSÉ ANTONIO LÓPEZ

LareDOS Contributor


n 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the horrid reality that large segments of American citizens were poor, ill, and needy — a problem so large that the states could not fix it on their own. The start of President Johnson’s national War on Poverty was the first step to avoiding disastrous consequences. For the first time, social, health, and educational programs were initiated as lifelines for poor blacks and Hispanics to climb out of the slippery trench of despair. Today, LBJ deserves credit for turning the keys that opened the doors of opportunity and


equality. In short, social, gender, and ern segregationists that they fought racial injustice victories we now take the plan at every turn. Outraged at the for granted were humanitarian won by a Demokindness and Our role models cratic president the 1964 Civil who studied Rights Act, were migrant field the problems they left LBJ’s workers, day laborers, carand chose senparty and bepenters, plumbers, paintsible solutions to came Repubsolve them. licans, taking ers, gardeners, maids, and The battle the first steps waiters who rose at dawn to eliminate that turned the and walked to the racial inequalparty of Linity and to fight coln into the bus stop or job site. poverty was not party of intoleasy. LBJ did not erance that it buckle under pressure as he and other has become today. elected officials faced extraordinary Fast-forward to 2012. The condiproblems with leadership at the na- tions are nearly the same as in 1964. tional level. So annoyed were South- The economic disparity between rich

and poor is severe. Middle-class wages are in a slump. Recent polls show a growing rate of hunger. Again, individual states can’t fix the problem. However, this time, intolerant politicians and conservative state governors have banded together to dismantle, regress, and repress hard-won civil rights. Conservatives regularly launch verbal attacks against the poor’s work ethic and accuse the poor of being bad role models for their children. Conservative-led states now suppress the poor’s voting rights. So, instead of waging a War on Poverty, far-right politicians are pursuing a relentless War on the Poor. Sadly, they have forCONTINUED ON PAGE 54

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Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Suicide Prevention Walk Viva la resistance – protest meets art Occupy Laredo’s David Hunt printed posters of protest from woodcuts he made. He is pictured in Jarvis Plaza just after sunset on January 20, 2012.

Friends and surviving family members of the late Tony Martinez are pictured at the second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk at LCC’s Fort McIntosh campus on January 14. At the lead is Bernadette Martinez, his older sister.

The future of heart care Doctors Hospital of Laredo receives Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC) # #         "  #   #" !      #  !   #       !#      #$  #  " #                 !#"     




Physicians are on the medical staff of Doctors Hospital of Laredo, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents 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.


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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

An equestrian success story Horse trainer Danny Santos rides Estrella, one of his equestrian success stories. Under his expert tutelage the 2-year-old blue roan colt has acquired numerous skills. He is pictured at his training facility in Zapata.

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News Brief

Silverio Martinez announces bid for Webb Democratic Chair

Beer Fest offers an evening of brew sampling, great eats

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aredo attorney Silverio A. Martinez has announced his candidacy for the Democratic Chair of Webb County. A practicing attorney in Laredo for nearly 10 years, Martinez is a former prosecutor for the Webb County District Attorney’s Office. Since leaving the District Attorney’s Office, he has dedicated his career to a general practice of law with an emphasis as a criminal defense trial attorney. He has successfully defended clients in numerous federal and state jury trials. Martinez said that if elected he plans to mobilize the Democratic party in Webb County by encouraging participation in the local democratic process and increasing voter turnout. “I intend to promote the democratic process and, more



order Beer Fest, which is set for Saturday, February 4 at the L.I.F.E. Downs Pavilion, will offer Laredoans a chance to sample over 100 types of beer and food from some of the city’s premier chefs. Pre-sale tickets for sampling are on sale for $15, and tickets for designated drivers are $10. Admission is open to those who are 21 years old and older. Tickets are available at all Gold Rush locations or online at Proceeds from the event benefit South Texas Academic Rising Scholars and the Río Grande International Study Center. Chef Beto Gutierrez of La Posada’s Zaragoza Grill and Texas Monthly fame will host a cooking show that high-

lights his modern Latin cuisine. Chef Chano Aldrete, a 22-year culinary veteran, will kick things up with his signature Border Fusion preparations. A Beer 101 session will educate beer lovers on how beer is made. Participating eateries including El Capataz, Zaragoza Grill, La Roca, La Carreta, Aji, and Buckets will also offer samplings. Factura 22 will perform Classic Rock, Spanish Pop, Top 40, and hits from the 80s.

—LareDOS Staff

importantly, the democratic ideals of our system of government, by delivering the message of the Democratic Party to all Webb County voters. I believe it is through education that we, as a community and as a people, can attract and elect the best candidates for key government positions,” he stated at the announcement of his candidacy on January 12. He said he hopes to work closely with both state and national party leaders to ensure that Webb County remains an important contributor to the political process. Martinez is married to Linda Garza-Martinez, also a former chief prosecutor at the Webb County District Attorney’s Office and now a Webb County Public Defender. The couple has four children. ◆ —LareDOS Staff

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South Texas hunts offer wounded warriors hope, independence, and resolve


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nrichment of the heart runs both ways in the hunts and hospitality area ranchers provide for severely wounded veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq through Combat Marine Outdoors (CMO), a Texas nonprofit dedicated to providing rehabilitation through wildlife adventures. “It is an honor to host them,” rancher and Vietnam veteran Jim Winch said of the hunts he has offered at Rancho Las Tejanas, which is located between Laredo and Freer. Winch, who spent a year in rehab post-Vietnam, said that time spent on his ranch was part of putting his life back together after military service. “Having these soldiers here has done as much for me as for them,” he said.

Lance Corporal Samantha Gaona, at Cierrito Prieto Ranch.

Winch recently hosted returning veterans Cpl. Chris Bryde, Cpl. Jordan McBride, and Cpl. Joe Canary — all active duty soldiers in rehab at

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San Antonio Military Medical Center, formerly Brooke Army Medical Center — for a hunt at Las Tejanas. Bryde, 23, is a single-leg amputee; McBride, 23, suffered burns and traumatic brain injury as a result of shrapnel; and Canary, 20, is a double amputee. “Ranchers like Jim and Karen Winch provide all accommodations for our warriors,” said recently retired Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Arturo G. García, vice-president and a founder of Combat Marine Outdoors. He is a 24-year Marine Corps veteran who saw combat in Kuwait and Iraq in Operation Desert Storm. “The time on the ranches gives these men and women a restful and At Rancho Las Tejanas, from left to right, Marine Cpl. Chris Bryde; Cpl. Jordan secure environment that offers indeMcBride; and Cpl. Joe Canary are pictured with hunting guide Chase Hoech; pendence and the opportunity to be Rancho Las Tejanas owner Jim Winch; and Mastery Gunnery Sgt. Arturo G. in a beautiful setting,” García said, García, vice president for Combat Marine Outdoors. outlining the scope of the adventure. “I drive them to the ranch where they are introduced to their hosts and they torment you. This opportunity to He said that men and women from learn of the unique history of the share like experiences, coupled with all branches of the military sign up place. We settle in and have a meal. being independent, makes a huge from 20 different veterans hospitals On the ranch we pray before every difference to these men and women across the country. meal. On the first day, “We get them down we acquaint them with here. They are briefed Combat Marine Outdoors (CMO) was founded in 2005 by the firearm they will be on safety, clothing, businessman Rusty Hicks, USMC Col. Alan Orr, and Mastery using on the hunt, and gear, and licensing. Gunnery Sgt. Arturo García. Hicks, a former NCAA Division on the second day they They will pay for nothI basketball referee and a 23-year Houston football referee, hunt with a guide.” ing. They already paid serves as president of CMO. Col. Orr is the Commanding OfGarcía said that with some part of their ficer of the 14th Marine Regiment. Sgt. García, who serves what the young hunters life. We provide everythe organization as vice-president, is recently retired from the take with them, besides thing,” García said, Marine Corps. Landowners who wish to participate can reach memories of the advenadding that he and othhim at (210) 464-1725 or at ture, is “the fellowship ers who transport of the campfire, homeerans or act as guides cooked meals, and are volunteers. what they’ve shared Texas — and eswith each other about pecially South Texas their combat experience, their inju- who want to find their way back to — offers most of the outing sites, ries, and the impact of their injuries the lives they had before combat and CONTINUED ON PAGE 11 on their lives. Trapped secrets can injury.” Courtesy photo





though some veterans have enjoyed adventures in Alaska, Colorado, and New Mexico. Contributors fuel the work of the CMO, and all donations go to the effort to get the recovering veterans on a hunt or a fishing trip. “We find our wounded warriors whatever they need, whether it is boots, clothes, or gear,” García said. According to García, it is the kindness of donors and contributors — including oil-and-gas exploration companies that have found huge returns in the Eagle Ford Shale play — that has provided unforgettable lessons for the hunters, the host ranchers, and the corporate contributors. “Those who feel blessed have shared their blessings with CMO,” he said. Some of the veterans hunt from homemade ground blinds and others from customized wheel chairs that have tracks like tanks to move through sand and over uneven surfaces. García said that the first customized Action Track wheelchair was donated by Ramsay Gilman of Houston. “We have four of them now, which the manufacturer in Round Rock sold to us at cost, $9,500 each,” he said. “Even the taxidermy of trophies is offered at cost.” He characterized the hunters as young men and women with great attitudes and who serve as role models to others. “They have all their lives ahead, and they are moving forward, undeterred. On the ranch, there are no limits to mobility. Technology has seen to that. Whatever the physical obstacle may be — the loss of a limb or eyesight — they will prevail. They test their abilities on the ranch,” García said. For some of the recovering veterans, the hunt is the first time they


hear gunfire since combat. “They are able to separate one from the other and move on,” García said. “The whole experience is therapeutic. They will remember how well they were treated, the respect they were accorded, the adventure itself, and that the circle of influence on the ranch was all positive. We also accommodate spouses, children, and significant others if our hunters request that we do.” García arranges about 100 hunts a year between October and February. CMO is a self-insured foundation that has Life Flight emergency and rescue capabilities. “We’ve tried to think of everything,” said García, a former Marine recruiter, “and we give thanks for all that was given to us not only by the ranchers, but also by individuals who understand what we have to do to help these men and women who have given so much of themselves for us.” García said he hopes more South Texas ranchers will offer their land for hunts. “It’s a generous act to host these American heroes. That generosity is returned in many unexpected ways. It changes the lives of everyone involved. You are a witness to hope, determination, healing, mended hearts, growth, and resolve,” he said. “When the hunt is over, it’s you who understands that you were also on the receiving end.” He added that some hunters and anglers who have had the CMO experience go on to become escorts or guides. “Me, this is all I’m going to do. This is a ministry,” García said. “This was an opportunity presented to me to help wounded warriors by calling up my passion for God, family, country, the warriors, the outdoors, and the Marine Corps.” ◆

RGISC hosts conference on the state of the Río Grande


xperts on the state of the Río Grande and its environmental history are featured speakers at the water conference hosted by the Río Grande International Study Center (RGISC) on Saturday, January 28 at the UT Health Science Center at 1937 E. Bustamante Street. Entitled “Rio Grande/Rio Bravo: River of Life, River in Peril” the conference features a keynote address by Mark Briggs of the World Wildlife Fund; Steve Harris, Rio Grande Restoration; Rio Grande Watermaster Erasmo Yarrito Jr.; Elizabeth Verdecchia of the Texas Clean Rivers Program; David Negrete, Comisión Internacional de Limites y Aguas (CILA), Nuevo Laredo section chief; biologist Dr. Tom Vaughan of Texas A&M International University; and biologist Tom Miller of Laredo Community College. “We are excited by the line-up of speakers and look forward to the keynote address by the World Wildlife Fund,” RGISC executive director Tri-

cia Cortez said. “We want this to be a thought-provoking conference that forces us to think about what we must do to have a vital and healthy river.” The Río Grande provides life to millions of people in the United States and Mexico, and is the only source of drinking water for many communities along the border. However, it is still ranked as one of the 10 Most Endangered Rivers in the World. “We must become better stewards and take proper actions, individually and politically, within our communities if we expect for the river to sustain us for generations to come,” Cortez said. Admission is free and open to the public. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the conference begins promptly at 9 a.m. Breakfast and lunch are included. High school, college, and university students are invited to attend. Seating is limited to 150 guests; RSVP is requested. Translation services will be provided. For more information, contact RGISC at (956) 718-1063 or ◆ —LareDOS Staff

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AHEC youth volunteers undertake Lake Casa Blanca cleanup

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executive director of AHEC. “Volunteering and serving the community they live in is precisely what the Youth Health Service Corps Training teaches our students,” Bazan said. The AHEC was established in 1993 and serves Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Duval, La Salle, and Dimmit Counties. The mission of the AHEC is to enhance the quality of life in the community of the region by increasing the number of well-trained health Courtesy photo


ver a hundred high school students, members of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC), volunteered their time in observance of Martin Luther King Day to clean the grounds of Lake Casa Blanca International State Park on January 14. Under the supervision of AHEC staff members, the students represented various schools from Laredo Independent School District and United Independent School District. The group walked the grounds and removed trash, debris, and other discarded items left behind by visitors who picnic and fish at the Lake. The lake cleanup is but one of many activities that AHEC student volunteers undertake throughout the year, according to Julie Bazan,

care workers; enhance the academic resources and support to existing health care providers; and foster a healthy lifestyle for the citizens of the communities. For additional

information about the AHEC visit www. call 956-7120037, or visit Facebook at Mrgbahec Laredo. ◆ — LareDOS Staff



Downtown, Main Street gear up for UETA Jamboozie BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ LareDos Staff


ing lot. We want to invite families to stroll the historic streets of downtown during a somewhat traffic-free time. Games and face painting will be available for the kids,” she said. “We want the public to come out to enjoy downtown and the 14th annual Jamboozie. The event has grown from a party on a few streets into a 20-block festivity enjoyed by people of all ages,” Rocha Taylor said. She added that many of downtown’s small mom and pop restaurants and non-profit organizations set up the delicious food booths at Jamboozie. “That’s just another way that the event supports our local economy and local causes,” she noted. In addition to the participation of downtown merchants and restaurants, Jamboozie host hotel La Pos-

ada is offering revelers who want to stay downtown a great package that includes a Club Level King room, breakfast, drinks and hors d’oeuvres, two tickets to Jamboozie, two VIP passes to the artist tent and VIP tent, and beads and exclusive access to the hotel balconies. The cost of the package is $189 plus tax.” The gates open from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Pre-sale tickets are on sale at $8 per person, at La Paletera, UETA, select IBC locations, and Graphitix Advertising and Design, Portofino, and other select downtown locations. Admission at the door is $10 per person. Children 12 and under enter for free. For more information on the event please call (956) 523-8817 or visit ◆

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he streets of downtown Laredo are gearing up for the city’s largest annual street festival, the UETA Jamboozie. The January 28 event, sponsored by the non-profit Laredo Main Street (LMS), promises an exciting array of samplings in both food and entertainment. UETA Jamboozie is LMS’ largest annual fundraiser and benefits El Centro de Laredo Farmers Market and projects to revitalize downtown buildings and commerce. Sandra Rocha Taylor, executive director of LMS, said that Jamboozie is just one of the ways LMS draws attention to historic downtown. In an effort to capture the taste

of international and regional foods, including New Orleans and Cajun style selections, over 30 food and novelty booths will be lined up along a 20-block area. The event is aiming to offer a bit of everything to Laredoans and visitors. Local, national, and internationally renowned performers will take center stage at six different locations — the corners of Hidalgo, Lincoln, Iturbide, San Agustín, Flores, and Grant streets. The diversity of the performances will range from rock, alternative rock, jazz, pop/punk, electro pop, Colombiano, norteño, Spanish rock, country/blues, and Latin salsa. Rocha Taylor, enthusiastically invited parents to bring their children to the early hours of the event. “Children’s activities will begin at 1 p.m. at the San Agustín Cathedral park-

Imaginarium at the Farmers Market The Imaginarium offered children at the January Farmers Market bubble blowing on a big scale. The booth was a must-stop for many youngsters.


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Courtesy photo

Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Military museum plans move forward Pictured at the January 11 meeting of the board overseeing the planning and construction of the Juan Francisco Farias Military Museum are, left to right, board member Odie Arambula and architects Ricardo Solis and Kennedy Whitely. The board revised and approved its by-laws and is moving forward with plans for the reconfiguration of the historically significant building that will house the museum.

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Walmart funds writing of Tejano curriculum Julie Martin, Region General Manager for Walmart Stores Inc., presented a $100,000 donation from the Walmart Foundation at the Tejano Monument groundbreaking ceremony on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol on January 13. The one-year curriculum development and implementation project will foster the teaching of Tejano history to Texas students. Bob Daemmric


From the Publisher

Foundry visit: another chapter in the history of the Tejano Monument BY MARIA EUGENIA GUERRA

LareDOS Staff


wasn’t sure I still had it in me to head out pre-crack of dawn for a one-day road trip and then get back in time to keep a commitment in Laredo. But I did, and the impetus that moved me was wanting to be at the Stevens Art Foundry in Bulverde — in the Hill Country just north of San Antonio — to witness the loading of five of the Tejano Monument’s eleven bronze figures onto a flat-bed trailer headed to Austin. The cold morning air, wind chill and all, carried on it a certain weight about the decade-long effort to bring the Tejano Monument to life — that of sculptor Armando Hinojosa from drawings on


paper to bronze, and the work of those who lobbied for the monument’s site on the Capitol grounds, passed legislation, and tirelessly raised funds for the only art at the Capitol representative of the first settlers in Texas. Tricia Cortez made the trip with me, and at the foundry we met Pat and Renato Ramirez, Renato the rainmaker and relentless shaker of corporate trees for donations for the monument. The industry of the foundry that morning was amazing to watch as those who work there finished details on this project and other pieces of art. Our inquisitiveness met with occasional admonitions to stay clear of welding and the grinding of metal. I had a sense that beautiful, meaningful things happen here at the hands of

artists and the men who staff the foundry. Drawings come to life here as objects large and small that will long outlive the men and women who dreamed them, drew them, and forged them. At a point in the foundry’s open area, the biting chill of the outdoors met an emanation of warmth from a small, very efficient propane heater jacketed in thick steel, and we gathered there from time to time to make our hands and faces less numb and to hear of the ongoing work, lo que falta, what is in the making to complete the historic monument that depicts the Tejanos — an explorer, a caballero, a pioneer family of five, two longhorns, a goat, and a lamb. We stood in proximity of the nearly finished statue of the pioneer settler who, when completed, will stand embracing his wife and infant child at the finished installation in Austin, joining there, too, the statue of the daughter and the son that were about to be moved to Austin. At this moment in his evolution from Hinojosa’s clay model to bronze, the figure of the patriarch settler lacked arms, though they would soon be welded to him. His wife, in pieces in the next

room, would also soon be cast in bronze and assembled with welds. In conversation we heard, too, of corporate generosity, such as Wal Mart’s $100,000 commitment to develop curriculum for Tejano history for Texas schools. The clatter of a flatbed trailer announced the arrival of Armando and his son David, who in less than an hour would drive away with the two massive longhorns, the statue of the family’s daughter holding a gourd of water for her lamb, her brother pulling a chiva by the horns, and the lamb. A good amount of photo-taking and interviews with Monica Navarro of the San Antonio Univision affiliate recorded the moment for posterity. The beautiful life-like bronzes of the monument shone brilliant and rich in the early morning light. On the eve of the monument groundbreaking in Austin — with little ceremony, actually none — the figures were loaded carefully one by one onto the artist’s trailer to move north along the trajectory of the compass point that our history has followed for centuries. ◆

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Generation Y’s future often looks like one big question mark BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff


fter a break in which I solidified an exercise routine — four weeks and counting — and caught up with my beloved brother back from college, I’m ready for a new year. The theme: carpe diem. The attitude: positivity in spite of uncertainty. But several factors surrounding my generation, known as the “millennial generation” or more commonly, “Generation Y,” are pushing against the positivity I (we) desperately want to feel. If Generation Y had one big collective crystal ball, it would be pretty cloudy for most of us. I hesitate to think how those just entering col-

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lege are feeling, too. Pretty anxious, I would say, but maybe not as anxious as those who graduated college and are still unemployed or who work too few hours to support themselves. As Gen Y-ers bitterly blame our parents for screwing it up for us, older generations bitterly blame us back for being lazy, incompetent, and for not showing any responsibility. The word “entitlement” is thrown around a lot when describing our generation. It seems that we have a grand sense of entitlement that really irks our elders, but to them, I ask. “Who raised us? Or maybe, didn’t raise us?” Often we were left to our own devices — literally, devices such TV, video game consoles, and computers. And to my generation, I say, “This all shouldn’t be an excuse for giving

up.” I found myself stuck in this blame game of sorts — our parents, our grandparents, rise of technology, increasing prosperity and decreasing work ethics, etc. — but when my head stopped spinning, I realized trying to find someone to blame is completely worthless. We need to really think about where Gen Y wants to be in 10 years. The benefit we have, though, is a great knowledge of history at our fingertips and time to plan our future carefully. I’m proud to see financial articles about 20-somethings like myself, most of whom plan to save money for retirement because they realize that the idea of Social Security will only exist in history textbooks by the time they reach their 50s and 60s. Economists and expert observers are even calling 20-somethings “too frugal,” but how can that be a bad thing? (Unless you’re a business pushing consumers to spend — often wastefully nowadays.) “It’s un-American,” they say, but planning ahead and creating a good nest egg is simply a smart thing to do. Also, it’s up to us to shape what

“American values” will look like. I like to think progressivism in social, economic, and environmental issues will be adopted as “American.” Planning is especially important as obtaining a college education almost guarantees that we will start out our careers with debt. So much for a fresh start in the wide-open world, huh? As a freshman in college I thought the world would be my oyster by the time I graduated. In many ways it is, but in many others, I am quite restricted. Like friends, acquaintances, and coworkers, I found myself moving back with my parents because it was simply more financially secure. Gen Y does not want to repeat the mistakes of the housing bubble, credit debacle, and so on. That’s not going to be our generation, we say, and I hope that proves true. Old habits often die hard. History tells us that humans have been through hard times like these before, and this probably isn’t really the end of the world, whatever you interpret that to mean. The politicians are still crappy — we just notice it CONTINUED ON PAGE 19


Cristina Herrera/LareDOS

Venue for local art, music community Independent designer Olivia Cotton interacts with a customer at her booth in the Caffe Dolce mini art bazaar on Saturday, January 7.


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LIFE festivities kick off February 29; great lineup for entertainment and activities BY MARIELA RODRIGUEZ Staff Writer


urday, March 3. Admission on these days prior to 5 p.m. is $5 for adults. After 5 p.m., it is $20 per person. Children 13 and under will be admitted for $10 after 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. general admission for school field trips will be $1 per person. Children must be with a school group and have a supervising adult. Parking passes for parents of project competitors for all four days is $10. General admission passes for parents for all four days is $20. All children under 4 years of age will enter free if accompanied by a paying adult all four days. LIFE is actively seeking sponsors for the 2012 Fair.

For more information on the fair or to become a sponsor contact the LIFE office at (956) 722-9948 or visit www. ◆

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he 49th annual Laredo International Fair and Exposition (LIFE) opens February 29 and will run through March 3. The non-profit founded in 1963 has had as its focus the education and development of Webb County youth in agriculture. Bu s i n e s s owner and rancher Steve La Mantia has been named LIFE’s 2012 Rancher of the Year. Nic-

hole De Spain will preside over the fair as queen, along with first runner up Shelby Melendez and second runner-up Catherine Uribe. As in decades past, the 2012 fair offers great entertainment for the entire family. There will be a clown show and petting zoo for the children, and a cook-off for backyard chefs who believe they have mastered the skill of the grill. One of the fun and educational must-sees is the Wild birds of South America Show. The mobile dairy classroom is back again. There will be sack races, tugs-of-war, and a greased pig contest. The ranch rodeo is set for Friday, March 2, and the stock show and livestock auction, mainstays of the fair, are set for Saturday, March 3. The entertainment lineup includes country music sensation Kevin Fowler on Friday March 2, and Solido on Sat-

Julliard instructor presents master classes Carol Wincene, professor of flute at the Julliard School of Music, presented master classes to students of Dr. Susan Berdahl and Melissa Hinojosa at the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts. She is pictured on January 15, accompanied by music instructor Mary Grace Carroll, in the Urbahn Recital Hall.

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more because we’re hurting more now than before. People still commit heartlessacts — we notice those more, too, with the increasing free flow of communication and 24/7 news channels. And economists will tell you that the bubble bursts and greed of large-scale corporations were quite predictable, if you were paying attention. What is completely different about the present is how much technology we have at our disposal. I don’t want to go into an anti-tech spiel, since I believe the Internet just another way — a much improved way, really — to catalog our knowledge, experiences, and random thoughts. But some of the side effects include lower attention span, more need for “instantness,” and less empathy. What Gen Y and beyond really have to resist is the impulse to take the easy way out of situations. A big problem I see is the fact that we were so prosperous throughout our childhoods. Children need the basic necessities of food, water, rest, education, etc., but cell phones, a TV in every room, your own laptop when you’re 10 years old, and other gadgets make life too easy. It’s way more than gadgets, though. Our generation was rarely allowed to fail and more importantly, face consequences. There was always some sort of cushion for us when we failed, and we ended up thinking, “I guess it won’t be so bad after all.” Some call that “optimism,” but I call it “being unrealistic at times.” The hard times and consequences are necessary so we can appreciate the good, as my brother

reminds me. There’s a reason we’re often called “entitled.” But don’t forget that past generations, like our own parents, were often called “entitled” as well. And so many of us Gen Y-ers are left craving more stimulating activities in life. We’ve seen it all, but are we really going out there and experiencing the world? One of the biggest things I crave is more sitting around and just talking with new and old friends. Not a bit of catching up, then everybody looks down at his or her phone awkwardly, but actual talking. Why is it that so many people feel like they have nothing to say? I have often shared this feeling. The more I read opinion articles and columnists yammering on about the issues I’ve mentioned above, the more I tend to agree, especially as I look around. No, the world is not going to total crap. No, kids today aren’t worse than before. And not everything about the “good ol’ days” was good. This awkward time period we are in has the potential to shape the future prosperity — or goodness forbid, plight — of our lives. This is the time when we can shape a new world for ourselves, because we do not simply want to be known as “entitled, spoiled kids.” And, to prove that I am not antitech, use the Internet to say something instead of simply consuming. Share your thoughts on this truly stimulating topic or any other topics to any of the following: Facebook (LareDOS Newspaper), Twitter (@ laredosnews), or my e-mail, cherrera@ Let’s make this year a good one.◆

Courtesy of Bob Daemmrich


Tejano Monument sculptor moves project to completion Tejano monument sculptor Armando Hinojosa is pictured during a January 12 interview with award-winning Univision-San Antonio journalist Monica Navarro. Hinojosa was interviewed outside the Stevens Art Foundry in Bulverde on the day five of the monument’s bronze figures were moved to Austin. Groundbreaking for the installation of the Tejano Monument was held January 13 on the Capitol grounds in Austin. It will be unveiled March 30.

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Laredo businessman crowned ‘King of Baseball’ LareDOS Contributor


uauthemoc “Chito” Rodriguez has always had a special niche in minor league baseball on the border. His name and persona were raised to a new level at the recent Baseball Winter Meetings in Dallas, when he was crowned “King of Baseball,” a longstanding tradition in which minor league baseball salutes a veteran player for longtime dedication and service. Rodriguez, who has been involved in professional ball since 1975, said the award caught him by surprise. “I’ve been going to these conventions for 36 years and I’ve


seen it happen to many others, and all of a sudden, ‘bolas,’ you’re the one,” he said. Being king comes with all the hardware. “They come to your table with a trophy, a cape, a crown and they start showing videos of your career. You start thinking of all your childhood, family, and all who helped you in baseball. But you’re just left speechless. It’s a tremendous honor,” Rodriguez said. Joining him at the event were his wife, Adriana, daughters Adriana and Patricia and other relatives. Rodriguez, 75, is only the second player from Mexico to be named King of Baseball. The other was the late Alejo Peralta

in 1967, when the winter baseball meetings were in Mexico City. Peralta, who died in 1997, was the commissioner of Mexican League baseball and owner of the Mexico City Tigres. Rodriguez was hired by Peralta in the 1990s to run the Tigres and the Tanjore Corporation in Laredo. Rodriguez, who lives in Laredo and is a graduate of St. Augustine High School, started his career Cuauthemoc “Chito” Rodriguez, a legend in minor with the Nuevo league baseball, was named the “King of Baseball” Laredo Tecolotes, in December ceremonies at the Baseball Winter where he spent Meetings in Dallas. The Laredo businessman, who 19 years. His served as president of the Tecolotes de los Dos Tecos team won Laredos for 19 years, is president of the Tigres de Mexican League Quintana Roo, a position he has held for 16 years. championships in 1977 and 1989. The team became the Tecolotes de los League for two straight terms, Dos Laredos in the 1980s, play- the maximum tenure allowed by the circuit. He has also been ing part of its season in Laredo. For the last 16 years, Rodri- a member of the Mexican Naguez has served as the president tional Baseball Team committee of the Tigres de Quintana Roo since 2003. Rodriguez is in his second based in Cancún. The Tigres were previously based in Mexico term as the Mexican League’s City and Puebla. His recruitment representative on the Minor and development of players has League Baseball Board of Trustresulted in five league champi- ees. He is a member of the Lareonships — 1997, 2000, 2001, 2005, do Latin American International Sports Hall of Fame, Tamauliand 2011. His Tigres career has included pas State Hall of Fame, and the playoff appearances every year Nuevo Laredo Hall of Fame. He and nine championship finals. has been nominated to the MexRodriguez served as the Chair- ican League Hall of Fame three man of the Board of the Mexican times. ◆ Courtesy photo


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News Brief

Partner Hall, associate attorney Juárez join Escamilla, Poneck, and Cruz, LLP


ttorney Juan Cruz of Escamilla, Poneck, & Cruz, LLP, has announced that Jennifer Lehmann Hall has become a partner in the law firm and that Orlando “Jay” Juarez Jr. has joined the firm as an associate attorney in the Laredo office. Hall, a 1997 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, has been with the firm since 1997 and works in the San Antonio office. “Jenny’s road to partnership was a long one, but well deserved,” Cruz said. “She has proven to be loyal to our law firm and the firm’s clients are very receptive to her advice. Jenny will continue to

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focus on school law and employment law defense-based practice, and we are excited to see her develop in her new role as a partner of our law firm.” Juarez is a 2010 graduate of the UT-Austin School of Law and joined the firm this year. “Our law firm is enthusiastic about having Jay join our team of lawyers,” Cruz said. “He is full of energy, highly intelligent, and a hard worker. We know that Jay’s skills as a lawyer will grow at our firm and that he will serve our existing and new clients very well.” In addition to Laredo and San Antonio, Escamilla, Poneck, & Cruz have offices in Houston,

Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Mexico City, and Louisiana. Established in San Antonio in 1991, the firm offers civil litigation services, including government entity defense, municipal bond work, and defense of employment law claims. For further information, visit — LareDOS Staff



Colors, colors, everywhere, and not a spot to waste BY LEM LONDOS RAILSBACK Contributor


ancouver Island is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand. It lies just off the western coast of British Columbia, Canada and a bit above Seattle, Wash. A commercial passenger boat ferry between the mainland and Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, situated on the island’s southern tip, takes about 35 minutes each way. With its supportive climate — the mildest in all of Canada — and plentiful rainfall, particularly on the western side, the island nurtures many


beautiful flower gardens in homes and public places. One of the continuing fads for homes over the last decade is the construction and operation of miniature electric locomotives pulling boxcars and cabooses on a winding track through the garden. The public gardens do not charge for admission while the garden park attractions charge admission. The Beacon Hill Park in British Columbia’s city of Victoria is one of the more famous community public parks. The Tofino Botanical Gardens provide a rainforest and shoreline garden as the gateway to Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Of all of the wonderful gardens, the Butchart Gardens — “Over 100 years

in bloom” — is the most famous. During the 19th Century, Robert Butchart, a mine owner and pioneer entrepreneur, operated a cement company from the giant limestone deposit close to his home. As the deposit was exhausted, large gaping holes were left in the ground. Jenny, Robert’s wife, thought that those holes looked horrible, and consequently, she decided to cover them and fill them with flowers. By 1904, the first phase of Jenny’s project was completed when she welcomed the public to her Sunken Garden. Over time, she added a rose garden, an Italian garden, and a Japanese garden. Recently a Mediterranean garden had been added. Eventually, the Butcharts dedicated 50 acres to the Butchart Gardens. On summer evenings, the gardens are illuminated with tiny lights. From June through September, there is free musical entertainment. Fireworks displays abound in July and August. On the grounds is a menagerie carousel with hand-carved replicas of animals from around the world. The Butchart Gardens hosts many civic events, corporate parties, and children’s parties throughout the year. Against the backdrop of many flowers of different colors, thousands of flowering bulbs, flowering shrubs, and trees, weddings are a specialty. Of course, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a seed-and-gift store, boat tours, telephones, restrooms, a visitor information booth, and drinking fountains are all nearby. The Butcharts’ old home serves as a museum to display original documents, china, and souvenirs from their global travels. I was so impressed with all of the different colors, shapes, and scents of the Butchart Gardens. I walked through all of the five gardens. I tried

to enter into each new trail and to follow it to its end, but some of the ends branched off into two new trails. As the sidewalk curved to the right, I found myself in a sea of green. Against a backdrop of long fir trees, medium-length trees, 8-feet-tall brown-colored trees, and evergreens — like those planted at cemeteries — lay a long line of carefully manicured hedges about 10-feet-tall and stretching all the way to the back of the section. In front of those hedges were yellow-green bushes, green bushes, and dark-green bushes. Below lay clumps of white, yellow, and red flowers. The overall greenery was punctuated by the smaller pieces of varying color. On another trail, I encountered a mixing of purple, white, red, and yellow flowers. At the Japanese Garden, I witnessed small stone shrines, benches—which I used often — and gently flowing streams. The swimming pool lay in an interesting geometric design of intersecting diagonals with its white stone center surrounded by statues of small animals. At a designated time, those small animals acted as fountains to spew water up and into the pool. In the middle of another swimming pool, situated on yet another trail, I saw a great fountain shooting water to about 10 feet in the air. Around the spewing water were beautiful statues of three giant fish posed as if they were diving into the pool. On still another trail, I discovered wide swaths of purple, red-orange, white, and mixed colors. Even on the walls of the buildings on the grounds, well maintained bunches of multicolored flowers and shrubs grew with relish. Although I didn’t have time to CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2012 I


the entire 50 acres of garden, I imagined the gardens in toto as a giant canvas on the main features —buildings, trails, statues, pools, fountains, and expanses of varying flower combinations were penciled onto the canvas. Then the paint — trees, hedges, shrubs, flowers — had been painstakingly applied. To me, the entire 50 acres provided a rich skein of color. I began to deeply admire the careful planning and planting; the extensive care, nurturing, pruning, watering; and the daily monitoring by the staff that maintains the wonderful gardens. I especially admired the staff’s expertise and steadiness. I used the water fountains several times. I also left a lot of cash with the seed-and-gift shop, bringing back a bunch of packages of seeds to see if some of the Butchart beauties could be nurtured in my

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Laredo domain. I spent so much time walking the trails and admiring the statues, swimming pool, and the trees that lined the boundaries of each garden that I almost missed my bus back to Victoria. On the ride back, I reflected on experiencing all of the different flowers, shrubs, and trees — and on their amazing variety of colors, shapes, and smells. I imagined that if there really was a Garden of Eden, it had to look, smell, and feel like the Butchart Gardens. In downtown Victoria, I visited the historic Empress Hotel. Walking the many hallways and climbing the many stairs to view the historic displays, I was surprised to find that a colleague of mine from the conference was already viewing a miniature replica of one of the old ships that used to land at Victoria Harbour. When I made a quick visit to the downtown shop-

Courtesy of Lem Londos Railsback


One of the many fountains at the Butchart Gardens

ping area, I was so overwhelmed by the variety of items on sale that I grew fatigued. I also admired the fact that throughout the harbor and shopping areas, the flowers,

shrubs, and trees were carefully arranged and maintained like those in the Butchart Gardens. Apparently, all of Victoria loves flowers. ◆



Doctors Hospital aims for healthy lifestyles at weight-loss challenge BY DENISE FERGUSON LareDOS Contributor


taff at Doctors Hospital of

Laredo encouraged healthy lifestyles at its Second Annual Weight-Loss Challenge, which began on Saturday, January 7 at the hospital’s Women’s Center and ends on April 7. “It is hoped that the development of good eating habits and maintenance of a healthy weight will lead to a longer life among the participants,” said Carolyn H. Graham, a registered nurse and bariatric coordinator at Doctors Hospital. “Each participant is provided with the skills necessary to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits that will last a lifetime.” While last year about 100 people participated, Graham noted that about 162 people filled out registration forms for the 2012 program. Participants will return to


the Women’s Center on April 7 between 8 a.m. and noon to weigh out. The winners of the challenge will be determined by the percentage of weight lost. There will be first, second and third place winners that will be notified by phone. The first place prize is a plasma TV. Participants can contact the Weight Loss and Wellness Center during the challenge with questions. Representatives for the program will correspond with participants throughout the challenge via e-mail, offering tips and ideas. After each participant weighed in, they were directed to a nearby classroom, where dietician Renee Hinojosa presented a diet-information class. She told participants that healthy eating needs to become a “way of life.” Some of the talking points presented during the class were: • Never exclude foods from a diet, but keep track of amounts that are ingested.

For example, if you drink one-half of a serving of soda, write it down. If an individual is addicted to a certain food such as ice cream, which he cannot give up, the individual can try eating half a cup per day or a full cup every other day. • Exercise at least three times per week. “Walking is an excellent choice because it is good for the joints and reduces hypertension,” Hinojosa said. • Include major food groups at all meals. A plate segregating the portions of each food may be used. Foods containing protein may help to decrease hunger. “Try to consume foods that go in and come out quickly,” said Hinojosa. “Many vegetables are free foods, and celery actually takes more calories to digest than to assimilate.” • Do not skip meals, because the body slows down when it thinks it is starving. • Don’t sit watching TV. Instead you can walk or run in place or use two cans of corn as weights as you watch. If a snack is

needed, nibble on low-calorie food such as raw vegetables or air-popped popcorn. • Eat small amounts of low-calorie food frequently to help control blood sugar levels. The Diabetes Diet features low sugar intake and a protein representative at every meal. In general, the participants were advised to eat suitable portions of six starches, three vegetables, two fruits, two dairy, 4 to 6 ounces of meat, and up to three fats each a day. The diet is said to control blood-sugar levels and can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Graham said the challenge may prove useful to people who are attempting to control caloric intake in order to avoid weight loss surgery. For more information on the challenge, contact Graham at (926) 721-0207 or ◆

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The Tejano Monument: from Farragut Street to the Bulverde foundry, on to the Capitol grounds BY MARÍA EUGENIA GUERRA


rom his studio on Farragut Street — a non-descript building a block from the rail yards — Armando Hinojosa finishes sculpting the last of the 11 figures for the installation of the Tejano Monument that will be inaugurated on the Capitol Grounds in Austin on March 29. The figure is that of a Spanish explorer wearing armor, pleated breeches, and high boots. The sculptor looked back on the events of the decade since he received the commission, recalling that in some instances the years raced by and in others plodded at a much slower pace. He had the idea after receiving the commission that he might leave his day job as an art instructor at the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts so that he could focus on the work of the monument. He didn’t, becoming quickly aware that the stop-and-start momentum of the work would be dictated by budgets, fundraising, and a State historic preservationist. When completed, the installation will consist of the explorer; an hacendado on horseback pushing two Longhorns; and a family of five — mother, father, infant, a daughter and a son. The daughter holds a gourd of water for a lamb, the boy is trying to move a stubborn cabra that needs milking. The bronze figure of the rancher on horseback was completed in 2003 and is in storage in Austin, now joined by

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the Longhorns and the two children and their animals. The father figure, now cast in bronze, awaits the welding of his arms at the Stevens Foundry in Bulverde where Hinojosa has worked with Larry Stevens to bring his sculptures to life over the last 43 years. The mother and infant are about to be cast, and the clay figure of the explorer will soon be loaded on Hinojosa’s flatbed trailer in Laredo for a ride to the foundry and eventually to the Capitol grounds. Ensuring the historic accuracy of the figures has been as painstakingly important to the sculptor’s work as the intricacies of making the figures’ faces and their postures work individually and as a suite of figures that tell a story. The Tejano Monument is Hinojosa’s fortieth completed sculpture. He is as up to speed on the history of the first Tejanos as he is on the process that takes his figures from clay to bronze — the fabrication of a wax figure, bronze heated to 2300 degrees, the welding of figures poured in pieces that weigh about 90 pounds, the sanding and grinding of the welds to remove seams, and arriving the desired patina by heating the bronze figures and spraying them with acid. Hinojosa is a student of anatomy. He said the bodies of his figures have to be built before they are clothed, else the clothing does not fall naturally. He used the reflection of his own arms and hands in a mirror to fashion the arms of the monument’s male figures, and he uses calipers to establish accurate

proportions. He said he makes many of his own tools, and that he uses oilbased sculpture clay to bring his figures to life. He used an old pair of worn boots to copy the creases in the leather at the ankles and heels of the boots of the explorer. “If I can see it, I can paint it,” he said, adding, “My first love is painting.” Hinojosa said he is thankful that he can earn a living doing what he loves. He is modest about his own work and laudatory about “creative people.” He said it is evident to him when “people put their hearts into their work, whether it is writing, the-

atre, or the visual arts.” Of the work of the monument, he said, “This is for all Texans, all Tejanos. This is a depiction of Texas history, of the people who came here to settle and to raise horses, cattle, sheep and goats.” While Hinojosa acknowledged he has “certain skills,” he does not assign himself the title of artist. “Let other



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Courtesy by JesĂşs Najar


or many of us, downtown Laredo may have an unattractive urban image, and an unpleasant, deteriorated look. This can be attributed to the modernization of some of the old storefronts on our historic streets, an effort stay up-to-date with the latest commercial trends. In order to compete with suburban malls, owners have removed “olderâ€? elements, period details, and ornamentations on the façades of commercial buildings. In their place, some have new elements added or have covered second-story windows to give the streetscape the appearance of a mall. Today, downtown Laredo has a 1960s-1970s look that has been left without proper maintenance. However, behind modern additions and alterations, you can still find historic buildings relatively intact. By uncovering a historic façade, a building not only recovers its historic significance and value, but also regains a sense of uniqueness and character that attracts new businesses and shoppers. Downtown Laredo has hidden treasures in its buildings, and an untapped source of economic development. To assist downtown business owners to rehabilitate the facades of their property, Laredo Main Street and the City of Laredo created the Façade Improvement Grant Program, which provides up to $15,000 in matching funds to encourage restoration of façades and overall building appearance to rekindle interest in downtown. These funds can be used toward repairing windows, doors, and awnings; removal of materials to expose the originals; painting; and repair of brick and woodwork, among other exterior improvements. Thinking about the great opportunity of this and other grants to change the face of our downtown area, I took the liberty of imagining how some of our historic buildings would look if their architectural value was revealed, if their facades were stripped of the elements that today cover and obscure their architectural value. For more information on the Downtown Façade Improvement Grant Program, please contact Laredo Main Street at (956) 523-8817 or (Jesus Najar is an urban planner and community outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation South Texas Field Office in Laredo.) â—†

WEBB County Heritage Foundation

Original facades reveal downtown treasures

WEBB County Heritage Foundation

The façade of this two-story building bordering the Tatangelo Parkway (300 block of San Agustín Ave.) is currently a blank wall that is usually unnoticed by passersby. All of the openings, doors, and, windows are bricked-in and painted white. The building’s integrity, however, offers us a good idea of its former use and potential to be a beautiful building again. This conjectural rendition shows us how it might have looked before the alterations.

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Located on the corner of Farragut and Salinas, the Laredo Improvement Co. Building was built in 1890 in brick. It featured cast-iron cornices and parapets. The Sames-Moore Co. and the Elks Hall later occupied the building. In the 1950s, the building had all of its cast-iron elements, balconies removed and its brick façade was covered with stucco. By the 1960s, the second story exterior was completely covered by concrete and used as a warehouse. The building remains intact, but if uncovered and properly rehabilitated, it could become the landmark building that it once was.


News Brief

Out of Darkness walk highlights victims, suicide prevention BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff


scar Antonio Martinez — “Tony,” as he was known to friends and family — had just turned 19 years old exactly one month before his life was cut short. Martinez died by suicide on Sept. 24, 2009, leaving those who knew and loved him heartbroken, and wondering what they could have done differently. The memory of Martinez and other suicide victims were commemorated at the second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk, held at Laredo Community College’s Fort McIntosh Campus on Saturday, January 14. “[Tony] used to say ‘smile beautiful’ to everyone because he always had a big smile on his face,” said Bernadette Martinez, Tony’s older sister. Bernadette and the rest of the Marti-


nez family joined the walk, wearing the same bright green shirt with the phrase “Smile beautiful” atop a picture of a smiling Tony. The year of his birth and death was also displayed — a reminder of a young life lost. “This walk keeps his memory alive, and I feel like this gives us a sense of peace that people are doing something about it,” Bernadette said. “It’s not being pushed under the rug.” Martinez had plans, like everybody. He played defensive back for the Alexander High School bulldogs. A former high school athlete, outgoing, and loved by many, nobody could expect him. But suicide does not pick and choose, as made clear by organizers and participants at the walk. “It’s events like these that are important, and the community then realizes that suicide is something that can affect everyone,” said Daniel Castillon, execu-

tive director of Border Region MHMR. Castillon also participated in the walk. Catholic priest John Jesus Maloney with the Pilgrim Center of Hope in San Antonio explained that there are many types of stigmas surrounding suicide that must be “smashed.” Despite the perception that most people who attempt suicide are mentally ill, most people with a mental illness do not die by suicide, according data from the Centers for Disease Control. “Suicide is more about an illness than it is about a stigma,” Maloney told walk participants. “Suicide is like an emotional cancer. Suicide is not a freely chosen act; it’s something that’s not about pain, pride, or arrogance…It does not put a person outside of the mercy of God.” According to the CDC, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death for all ages in 2007. About 1 million people attempt suicide each year in the United

States. Men are 4 times as likely to die by suicide than women, but women attempt suicide three times more often than men. The CDC also reported that Hispanic females in high schools attempt suicide at a higher percentage — 11.1 percent — than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts, who attempt at 6.5 percent. For general information about suicide and how to prevent it, go to cdc. gov/violenceprevention/suicide. PILLAR, a local nonprofit dedicated to the mental and emotional needs, including suicide prevention, can be reached at (956) 220-6100 or pillar.laredo. The state-funded Border Region MHMR also offers services for those dealing with suicide or suicidal thoughts. Contact the Webb County office at (956) 794-3000. ◆

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Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Courtesy photo

Historic groundbreaking on the Capitol grounds Dr. Cayetano Barrera, president of the Tejano Monument board of directors; Renato Ramirez, vice-president of the board and IBC Bank Zapata CEO; Richard P. Sanchez, secretary and treasurer of the board; Dennis Nixon, IBC Bank chair and CEO; Armando Hinojosa, artist and sculptor of the monument; and Andres Tijerina, vice-president of the board are pictured in Austin on January 13.

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Another well-attended Farmers Market Jarvis Plaza filled quickly with shoppers for the January 21 Farmers Market. Plant and herb vendors were especially busy with gardeners preparing for spring plantings. The market continues to grow as a viable venue for local and area agricultural products.



Mexican consular reports: fewer but deadlier border crossings


igrant crossings and Border Patrol apprehensions of undocumented immigrants might be sharply down, but attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without the proper papers could be a much deadlier proposition than in the past. Mexican consular reports reveal that while 369 Mexican nationals died during presumed border crossings in 2004 — a year when much greater numbers of people were crossing the border — at least 310 still perished in 2011, a year the Border Patrol has classified as a historic low in terms of unauthorized crossings and detentions. In Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency reported the detention of 340,252 migrants — the vast majority of them Mexican nationals — on the border between Mexico and the U.S. The number was one-fifth the total of detentions made in the peak year of 2000 when about 1.6 million people were apprehended, and comparable to 1971 levels. According to the reports, the principal causes of deaths along the border have included dehydration, drowning, vehicular accidents, hypothermia, “health complications,” and reasons possibly connected to violence. Of the slightly more than 3,000 border deaths of Mexican nationals from 2004 to 2011, as many as 1,116 could have been related to violence, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Mexican government identified the Arizona-Sonora border, especially the Tucson sector, as the deadliest zone in the eight-year period studied. Approximately one-half the deaths, or 1,573 cases, happened along the Arizona-Sonora line. With 551 deaths W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

almost split evenly, the areas around the Texas cities of McAllen and Laredo were also very deadly. While the Arizona-Sonora border consists of remote desert where temperature extremes are the environmental rule, the Texas-Tamaulipas border is divided by the Río Grande, a river which becomes a death trap for many who attempt to swim the deceptively narrow and lazy waterway. In terms of migrant detentions, the CBP statistics for Fiscal Year 2011 show that 129,118 people were detained in Arizona, 118,911 in Texas, 72,638 in California, and 6,910 in New Mexico. For the last fiscal year, the CBP “dedicated historic levels of personnel, technology and resources to the Southwest border,” according to a news release from the law enforcement agency. In addition to beefed-up law enforcement, the Border Patrol considers weak demand for migrant labor and the perilous situation confronting Central American migrants passing through Mexico as factors in the historic plunge in apprehensions. Besides expanding the Border Patrol to 21,444 agents by the end of the fiscal year — more than double the number from the 2004 force’s strength — the CBP noted the deployment of “additional technology assets” including mobile surveillance units, drones, thermal imaging systems and “smallscale non-intrusive” inspection equipment. According to a Border Patrol spokesman quoted in the Mexican press, a disproportionate number of Mexican nationals detained in Arizona are from the violence-ridden Pacific coast state of Guerrero. Manuel Padilla told the Guerrero daily El Sur that approximately 9 perCONTINUED ON PAGE 54 LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2012 I


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Laura Dรกvila



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Judged by the content of our character or skin color BY BARBARA BAKER LareDOS Contributor “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


r. King gave this wellknown and oft-quoted “I Have a Dream” speech 52 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. On another historic day 48 years later — Jan. 9, 2009 — our first African-American president took the oath of office of President of the United States. I have become disillusioned and appalled by how our first AfricanAmerican president has been treated in a country that claims to know the importance of dignity, respect, and honor. We’ve had many civil rights movements to learn from to create a better society for African- Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Other equal rights movements related to gender, sexual orientation, and people with disabilities have also provided examples. So the question becomes, “Has President Obama truly been judged by the content of his character or the color of his skin?” Let’s look at the facts that have nothing to do with disagreeing with his political ideology or party affiliation, but rather related to a sinister type of verbally cruel racism that started back on the plantation. Sometimes I am frightened that this racism will escalate into a physical and violent attack if he continues in office another four years. The photo of President Obama’s face on the body of a chimpanzee has deep racial implications because African -Americans have experienced derogatory comparisons about our physical features being related to primate facial and body figures. It goes back to racial

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beliefs about who is considered physically beautiful and attractive in our society. This type of cruel racism has been used as a basis to treat those who are not considered a member of dominant culture as inferior and non-human because they are “animal-like.” Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neil disrespected First Lady Michelle Obama by referring to her as “Mrs. Yo Mama.” This comment not only has an element of racism, but also sexism. Ms. Obama is an intellectual and accomplished woman who deserves respect and honor for what she has achieved. No woman for that matter deserves to have this crude slang hurled at her in a harassing and taunting manner. In honor of the holiday season, Mr. O’Neil then puts a photo of Ms. Obama with a strand of hair out place next to a picture of the Christmas Grinch and refers to her as the Grinch. In our society, hair is very political for African American women and has been a source of oppression for us in terms of issues of beauty and femininity. In an article entitled, “Black Hair Still Tangled in Politics” in The New York Times, Catherine Saint Louis wrote, “Getting ‘good hair’ often means transforming one’s tightly coiled roots; but it is also more freighted, for many African-American women and some men, than simply a choice about grooming. Straightening hair has been perceived as a way to be more acceptable to certain relatives, as well as to the white establishment.” Saint Louis also discussed Malia Obama, who was harshly criticized in a public blog for wearing her hair in a twist while in Rome. The blog stated this was proof that the Obamas were unfit to represent America. It seems that “natural hair” on African Americans does not represent the diversity and individuality that this country was founded upon. So when Mr. O’Neil makes the case that he has bad hair days, too, and he is

referring to that as well in his commentary, he needs to remember that his nongood hair days are accepted as a white privileged, upper class male “norm” in our society. There is no comparison to what African-American women have faced historically and traditionally in our society with bad hair days. Then there was the heckling from the House and Senate floor at President Obama during a live State of the Union Address, and a Russian correspondent saying President Obama’s name while gesturing with her middle finger. Some may argue that any president might face these types of challenges. My concern is that well-educated and professional people who are supposed to know the appropriate places and times to exercise their right for disagreement in a respectful manner, act instead like bullies on a public playground trying to humiliate and dismiss someone for the sheer meanness of it. Everyone remembers the long drawn out public process of accusations and demands that President Obama produce his birth certificate to prove he was an American and qualified to be President of the United States. Most people of color in America will tell you that they have experienced what it is like to have to go above and beyond to prove they are worthy of what is considered a “high level” decision-making position in predominantly white situations. It may not be that way in Laredo, but it is outside of the area. I found myself watching live coverage of President Obama speaking about the appointment of the new consumer advocate, only to have it interrupted by John McCain endorsing Mitt Romney. Where are the priorities? I would have rather heard about this important presidential office appointment in-depth and listened to Mr. McCain’s endorsement later in the day during an instant replay. This is not the first time I’ve seen the media handle President Obama’s public messages in this manner.

Here we are in 2012, decades since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and with an African-American president who has followed a dedicated path of working to get his education and accomplishments, only to hear a Tea Party candidate make a stereotypical comment about African Americans. Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” As NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said, “Rick Santorum’s remark reinforced unfair stereotypes that are inaccurate and outrageous. He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level. In Iowa, for example, only 9% of food stamp recipients are black, while 84% of recipients are white.” Mr. Santorum needs to research all the corporate welfare given to white male-operated corporations. As an African-American, I do not agree with all of President Obama’s decisions and choices but I still feel significant pride that we do have our first African-American president. In my role as an educator, I have seen how he has inspired young people of color that with the message that with hard work and dedication one can aspire to the presidential office no matter what your race identity is. That’s important for our young people of color to know. I believe Dr. King would say it is essential that we hold our country accountable, that we are not judging people by the color of their skin, and that we approach our disagreements without any “isms.” It’s time to walk the talk to fulfill the promise and opportunity of “Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ◆


Under the Middle Eastern Star

Almighty God, We ask that your mighty spirit be with these soldiers on their mission today. Make their wits sharp and their focus intense that they would see and overcome any danger. And if they do have to fight, Lord give them victory in battle. In Jesus’ name, Amen!


y eyes were closed when I heard our chaplain relay these words to our God. My mind was filled with images of people special to me, and all I could do is wonder if today was going to be a good day or a bad day. As I opened my eyes at the cue of “Amen,” I looked around the circle that had formed around the chaplain and suddenly found comfort in the unconditional confidence I had in the men and women I was about to travel with — warriors who were as ready and willing as I am to protect one other at whatever cost. When you are about to voluntarily expose yourself to the possibility of losing life or limb, words like the ones offered by our chaplain mean a whole lot! The mission was fairly simple: Move in convoy formation, locate and secure the objective, and get back “home” in one piece. As we rolled out I began to play scenarios in my mind. They all started with a “bang.” Since Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) are the primary choice of tactic for this enemy, I wanted to make sure that I, as the convoy commander, knew exactly how to react in order to protect and assist this specialized team in case of an attack. I was amazed at the expert skill W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

set of my drivers. The visibility inside the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored fighting vehicle is bad enough, but adding the dust, low light, and crazy traffic conditions made things extremely dangerous. Space inside the MRAP is very limited, and wearing the Improved Outer Tactical Vest (IOTV) with a full combat load not only adds about 45 pounds to your overall weight, but also further restricts your freedom of movement. This “pleasant” situation added a certain degree of pain and discomfort, and significantly amplified the level of anxiety I was feeling as I was getting ready to travel through this enemy’s territory. Let me explain it this way. Think back to the first times you started playing with a Jack-in-the-box. You heard the music and turned the handle rhythmically in anticipation that the stupid clown would eventually and suddenly jump out and scare the shitaki out of you. That is exactly how I felt as we were hurtling down the road toward the objective — except if the clown jumped out this time, it could be very detrimental to our health. Upon reaching our destination I dismounted and found myself in the middle of a populated area. I led the team toward our objective and was amazed at how oblivious the Afghan civilians were to our presence. Decades of war have desensitized these people as evident by the lack of reaction to a group of American fighting warriors heading down the street in a tactical formation — weapons hot and at the ready, evidently on a mission, and ready to fight. As we traversed the crowd, a fe-

Courtesy photo


The Price of Peace: Dancing with the Devil

Major Luis Tinajero

male counterpart and I noticed that a civilian Afghani male had stopped and squatted with his back turned to us. We both immediately placed him in our sights and broke formation to investigate his actions. As we approached I noticed that he was fidgeting with something between his legs. We continued to approach, and it was she who realized what was happening: We were witnessing a grown man urinating in the middle of a busy area in public. Nobody except us naïve American warriors found this surprising, and a little disturbing, I might add, as we made our way back to our guys. I was still laughing when I witnessed something that topped the last spectacle. Across the street was another male looking right at us and relieving himself of his bowels — just like a cat — in front of everybody. And nobody cared.

We finally reached the objective and secured it without incident or injuries. The only casualty that day was my sensibilities that had witnessed grown men relieving themselves in a congested and public place. The trip home after several hours of being in survival mode seemed even longer than the trip out. Again, the Jack-in-the-box was on my mind as were images of my 2-year-old daughter. Would I survive this adventure in one piece and one day get to hold her again? Would she be proud that her daddy danced with the devil and took the necessary risks so that many could enjoy the privileges and freedoms of the American way of life? There are many brave Americans who have served, are serving, and will serve in wars across the world. War is the price of peace, and warriors are necessary to fight those wars. ◆ LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2012 I


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Santa María Journal


LareDOS Staff


n the distance, the night sky over San Ygnacio erupted occasionally in showy bursts of fireworks, but here on the Santa María Ranch, the damp desert floor now redolent with the smell of winter weeds, the New Year arrived calmly and without fanfare. In retreat on the ranchlands, I enjoyed a five-day run of chores and quiet respite. Inspired by day by the landscape and by night by the deep, silent beauty of the celestial vault, I kept meaning to write something brilliant — perhaps a chapter in the Laredo novel — but instead the days presented me with broken water lines and the kind of puttering that I actually relish because I can use my hands to engage my brain. Such was the spirit of the building and installation of nesting boxes in the henhouse. Nesting boxes need to seem private for egg-laying purposes, but they also need to be un-inviting surfaces for nighttime roosts. A roof of sharply sloped metal flashing ensured there would be no traction for roosting, as did a narrow opening to get into the nesting boxes. I like tools — a sharp hand saw, a level, a Swanson speed square, a W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

The New Year arrived without fanfare good hammer, a measuring tape, and a Bosch cordless drill — and I like drawing a plan and sticking to it. I especially like using materials I already have on hand. I marked the success of each day by not having needed to get into a car and leave the ranch premises. The endeavor included building a small ladder so that the nesting in-

stallation would be accessible to the hens. It took me a couple of hours to finish, but just minutes after completion, there were hens a-laying on the fresh hay in the nesting boxes. And so went my days un-tethered from what I do to keep LareDOS afloat, devoting myself to cleaning up any disorder in the ranch compound and putting the finishing touches on the little altar to the Virgen de Guadalupe that my granddaughter Emily and I

put together. The biting chill of cold nights gave way to cool, bright days that were perfect for reading on the sunny end of the porch and for forays into the brush on the 4-wheeler. I found great comfort in the compan ionship of my dog Luna, in evening mesquite fires in the kitchen hearth, and meals carefully prepared. Birdcalls, the silence in between, and the familiar landscape outside every window made me feel centered and as though I’d recovered some vital part of myself that had been misplaced in the clutter of my office in Laredo. Four inches of rain have trans-

formed the parched look of the monte. The land looks alive, save for the lacy bonnets of the mesquite trees, now yellowing and dropping. The slow, soaking moisture over a 12-day period was of much benefit to land and wildlife habitat. So thorough was its saturation into the sandy earth that there was little runoff into the ponds, and the ranch hand told me that as he dug fence posts, the earth was moist down to 3 feet. My grandchildren were out of town — off to the high country and snow. I missed them terribly but was pleased to have so quiet a stretch of days.◆

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‘Most prevalent’ scams of 2011 include job-hunting, mortgage relief BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff


rea chapters of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) named some of the “most prevalent” scams of 2011 earlier this month. The scams range from the traditional phishing e-mails to job-hunting fraud, a telling sign of another year with a struggling economy. “With so many still unemployed, the check-cashing scams, and mortgage relief and payday loan issues have been steady,” said Kristi Peña, a regional BBB spokesperson based in San Antonio. “The temptation of fast cash is misleading, which is why it’s so important for us to provide this information and encourage our city and government officials to help. ”

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The BBB also named its top 10 scams of 2011, with “scam of the year” given to the BBB phishing scam, in which thousands of users were sent e-mails usually informing them of “complaints about your business.” “Each scam has its unique issues whether online, by phone, or in person,” Peña said. “What we see with our consumers is that they did not take the time to ask questions, research the product or reach out to any local agency that could provide background information, i.e. BBB, attorney general, city and other like entities.” Peña said some of the best advice she could give consumers included investigating offers that the consumer did not solicit and thoroughly reading information — especially the fine print. “Don’t be afraid to walk away if it

turns into a high-pressure sales meeting [and] always obtain three or more quotes no matter what you’re looking for. You owe it to yourself to shop around,” Peña added. The BBB is a private corporation that gathers information about businesses, gives out company ratings, and informs consumers about scams and fraud, according to its website. The following list includes five of the most prevalent scams of 2011. Find the full list of the 10 most prevalent scams at Door-to-door magazine scam “Companies that sell magazines primarily door-to-door are always near the top of BBB complaint data. Last year, many consumers com-

plained they never received a single magazine after purchasing a discounted subscription promised by a sales person. When consumers called to request a refund, many companies did not answer.” Facebook viral videos scam “Viral videos claiming to show everything from grisly footage of Osama bin Laden’s death to the latest celebrity scandals were popular scams perpetrated by hackers, often times appearing to come from a ‘friend.’ Once the link was clicked, malicious software was downloaded to your computer, which then hacked into your social media account and would send similar messages to your friends.” Hotel identity theft scam “Consumers complained they reCONTINUED ON PAGE 47




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rika Buentello is a self-proclaimed “love junkie,” and for the month of February, when love is in full bloom, Buentello wants to share her obsession with the rest of Laredo. Buentello, a local artist and art teacher, will show her latest collection of works in an exhibit called “Objects of Affection,” which will open at Caffe Dolce on Saturday, February 11. The exhibit will be on display until March 9. But Buentello’s exhibit won’t be romantic relationships and fairytales. “Obviously, love is something we can all relate to,” Buentello said. “Don’t get the wrong idea. You won’t find paintings of romantic landscapes and beautiful nudes staring off into the distance in my exhibit. My work isn’t traditionally romantic. It’s cheeky and funny and revolves around non-traditional devotions.” The artist’s feminine and quirky styles are sure to please a wide array of artistic palates. Buentello takes inspiration not from “moviet y pe-of-love-at-f irstsight” ideals of love, but from everyday objects — a good cup of coffee, a smooth pencil, a fresh piece of paper, or a favorite song. “You’ll often find that my work is usually luscious and feminine, ripe with romantic textures and patterns, colors and materials. I’m inspired by folk art, crafts,


traditions and celebrations. Glitter, fabric, traditional domestic crafts and precious subjects make usual appearances, as I’m attracted to the kitschy quality and humor that they bring to ‘fine art.’” Buentello will also share her love for craftwork in a make-and-take craft table that will be available specifically for visitors on Caffe Dolce’s patio. Visitors will be encouraged to create miniature love letters to a Valentine, “whether it be a person, a puppy, or an iPad,” Buentello said. “Craft is rich with nostalgia and feelings of comfort and security When I make crafts, or reference craft work through the incorporation of traditional crafting materials in my paintings and drawings, I feel like there is a sense of warmth that comes from the history that is inherent in simple images or items of crochet, beadwork, threads, patterns and other tactile materials.” Buentello said that she studied oil painting at the University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated with a degree in art, but now she works more in watercolor and pencil drawing. She has offered “dollar drawings” done in pencil and ink at local art bazaars, most prominently at Caffe Dolce. As an artist, Buentello has exhibited at the Blanton Museum of Art and Arthouse in Austin, the Sound Alternative Gallery Space in Laredo, and Box 13 Art Space in Hous-

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Love is in the air at artist’s upcoming exhibit

ton. In 2010, Buentello was one of the art- gratification.” ists who participated in the prestigious For more information about Erika E.A.S.T. Austin Art Tour. E.A.S.T. is a Buentello and her art, go to her webyearly self-guided tour of East Austin’s site at or “Love” many art galleries that usually occurs in her Facebook page at late November. Buentello displayed her craftspectacular. Buentello can also be art at Super! Alright! Creative Studio. contacted by e-mail at erikabuentello@ Buentello also calls herself a “jack-of- all-trades.” Her talents include embroidery, sewing, sculpting, printing, collage, knitWhat: ting, digital illustration, web ‘Objects of Affection’ exhibit opening design, and baking. Though When: Saturday, February 11, 8-11 p.m. her list of talents runs long, Buentello said she is most deWhere: Caffe Dolce, 1708 Victoria St. voted to pencil and ink drawMore info: Contact Buentello at (956) 285-2555 ing because it offers “instant

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The first-ever 2012 Border Beer Fest benefits Both 501©3 non-profits

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Tuesday Music and Literature Club



ichelangelo led a life just as interesting as his work, according to Dr. Richard Wright, history professor at Texas A&M University. Wright provided a slide presentation on the subject of “The Art of Michelangelo” at the January 10 meeting of the Tuesday Music and Literature Club. “He was a Tuscan by birth,” Wright continued, “but his family later moved to Florence.” Due to the frail health of his mother, he was reared by his wet nurse in a family of stone cutters in an area full of stone quarries, an opportune situation given Michelangelo‘s gifts. Michelangelo was later quoted as saying, “I sucked in the craft of hammer and chisel with my foster mother’s milk.” He attended a preparatory school of drawing as a boy, and at one time was punched in the face by a competitor, resulting in a broken nose. In due time, word spread about his talent, and as a result, the Medici family of the banking industry, who were patrons of the arts, heard about him. “They approached Michelangelo’s father and offered to bring him into the family as a son and provide for a classical education and help his refine his talent,” Wright said. Wright relayed an anecdote involving an incident when Michelangelo was 12 years old, in which he sculpted a sleeping Cupid from a leftover piece of marble, treated it with chemicals, and buried it, where later it was judged an ancient artifact. “His God-given gift duped the experts of the period,” Wright said. After the death of Lorenzo W W W.L A R ED OS N E WS.CO M

de’Medici, Michelangelo studied anatomy and eventually settled in Rome. Dr. Wright included Michelangelo’s St. Peter’s Pieta as part of his slide presentation. Wright said that the Pieta exemplifies the Age of Classicism, portrayed in the attitude and mood of the sculpture. A youthful looking Mary quietly contemplates the death of her son. “The Pieta represents everything in moderation,” said Wright. “The statue of Mary and Jesus exemplifies purity and innocence of the soul. Michelangelo worked from the point of view of idealism, and he was as knowledgeable as a doctor about the human body.” He retuned to Florence in 1501 as a sculptor and carved the statue of David. The figure of David is “twice the size of a usual person,” said Wright. “David represented an ideal of the human body and is recognizable as the biblical character because he holds a rock as well as a sling covering his shoulder.” According to Wright, “Michelangelo depicted what David represents, not a literal image as his actual age was 12.” Later Michelangelo was called to Rome by Pope Julius II. In 1508 Michelangelo began his most important work, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (built by his uncle) in the Vatican for Julius. According to Dr. Wright, Michelangelo complained about the project for years as he had to learn to paint on fresco. Wright said that Michelangelo fired all his assistants in a few weeks, an example of his temperamental nature. He described the artist as being gay, radical, and having a tendency to push buttons. Nevertheless, Michelangelo accomplished the work in four

Courtesy photo

History professor explores Michelangelo’s art at January meeting

Pictured with TAMIU professor Dr. Richard Wright, who made a presentation to members of the Tuesday Music and Literature Club at the organization’s Jan. 10 meeting are Shereen Grogan, Denise Ferguson, and Rosario Gonzalez. Dr. Wright provided an insightful narrative on Michaelangelo.

years while leaning backwards and not able to clearly see what he was doing. The content was drawn from the Book of Genesis with emphasis on bodies rather than the setting. Wright described the work as a “jumble of bodies” and added, “Michelangelo used bright, intense colors and worked from dark to light shades.” Around age 60, Michelangelo was commissioned to paint The Last Judgment on the back wall of the Sistine Chapel. In the ensuing years, his work reflected a more religious approach. He felt guilty about his success as it was predicated on the beauty of the human body (particularly that of the male), and the here and now rather than the Christian philosophy of looking forward to the hereafter. After his death, the church became more reform-oriented and conservative, and the private parts of Michel-

angelo’s figures were covered with drapes. “Michelangelo lived to age 90,” Wright said, “a good example of the concept that it is best to keep active as one ages.” Also at the meeting, members were notified by fellow TMLC member Maria Soliz, manager of the Laredo Public Library, that the historical records of the club’s first 100 years have been officially received into the Department of the Laredo Public Library archives and are in the process of being catalogued. Mott reminded members to pick up their pre-paid tickets for the “Annual Valentine Tea — Comedy in Music: A Special Appearance by Victor Borgia,” by Dr. Frederich Gechter. The tea will be held at First United Methodist Church Hall at 1220 McClelland Ave. at 4 p.m. on February 14. ◆ LareDOS I JA N UA RY 2012 I


It was a full house at the Webb County Women’s Bar Association Battle of the Politicos Bowling Tournament.

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Seguro Que Sí


the middle of the night from the ‘front desk clerk’ asking for his or her credit card number because his or her computer had crashed. Scammers counted on sleepy consumers not catching on that the call was not from the hotel at all, but from someone outside who knew the direct-dial numbers for the guest rooms. By the time morning rolled around, consumers found their credit card had been on a shopping spree. This scam was so prevalent that many hotels are now posting warnings in their lobby.” Mortgage relief scam “Because the federal government announced several mortgage relief programs this year, many sound-alike websites popped up attempting to fool consumers into parting with their money to save


their home. Some sounded like a government agency, or even part of a consumer organization. Most asked for an upfront fee and almost all left you in more debt than when you started.” Online job scam “Job hunters received e-mails, visited websites and filled out online applications that all looked very professional. Candidates were even interviewed (usually over the phone). Once offered the job, the candidate was asked to fill out a “credit report” or provide bank information to set up direct deposit. The online forms provided were nothing more than a way to capture sensitive personal data — Social Security number, bank account information, etc. – that could easily be used for identity theft. And, of course, there was no job.” ◆


Contact Henri D. Kahn with your insurance questions at (956) 725-3936, or by fax at (956) 791-0627, or by email at hkahn@


Let’s get righteous in 2012

he U.S. should not participate in wars all over the world that do not directly involve our internal national

defense. Let’s encourage other countries to solve their own internal, political, and financial problems without our financial intrusion. Understand that our habit of buying international cooperation with billions of dollars in aid does little more than create more billions of dollars in requests for financial aid. Control the media’s random violation of freedom of speech with license to exaggerate, disguise, exploit, deceive, terrify, damage, alienate, detract, spoil, and wreck personal, national, and international events only for the sake of making a buck rather than to inform accurately with absolute unbiased honesty. We should fight with all our might any attempt by the federal government pundits to regulate every point of our lives.

Relationships between men and women should emphasize care and concern for each other’s welfare without the ever-increasing emphasis on good looks, sex, and money. Use social media to improve relationships and truth rather than increase the trend to be a vehicle of gossip and tales out of school. Quit blaming problems of the middle class on successful people just because they have financial wealth. Respect and honor the phrase, “we the people in order to form a more perfect union” instead of using the labels of liberal, conservative, black, white, Hispanic, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, or sexy. Know that our existence is not simply the result of some cataclysmic conjuration of events resulting in the appearance of human and animal life. There is a supernatural being that isn’t merely happenstance, honored by millions of people of all persuasions. Keep a positive attitude and life will be a lot easier. ◆

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Comic from Laredo brings ‘Mira Que Funny!’ to Little Theater BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff

er] contest presented itself, and I had so much fun on the stage that night. More than anything, it was just fun.” She won the contest, and everything else seemed to fall into place. Contreras signed with Abrams Artists within two years. Contreras originally met Valls when they both participated in the Original Latin Divas of Comedy, which

country you’re in, but I don’t want to have to hit it over the head anymore, It should be a normal thing, as it should be,” Valls said. Valls said that there is also a big myth among the entertainment industry and the public that women just aren’t funny. “I think they think we’re going to male bash, and a lot of women can do

“There are beautiful people here in Laredo who are supportive and so rich in the Latino culture, that for me omedian Sandra Valls has coming back home is coming back to found great success in the my culture — because I didn’t really entertainment industry. know if I was too pale, or too white, Her impressive resume or not Mexican enough until I moved consists of two Showtime specials and further north,” Valls said. a long list of TV credits on major netBut Valls said she has certainly works, including HBO, LOGO, ABC, struggled to gain momentum in her BET, MTV3, and Galavision hometown. Her first show took Now Valls wants to start place the same night another bringing her brand of comedy comedy show — “The Canijos and her comedian friends to of Comedy Tour,” an all-male Laredo for “Mira Que Funny!,” show hosted by Valley comediwhich Valls is planning to host an Raymond Orta — at the Civic every other month at the Laredo Center. Valls said she had a difLittle Theater. Earlier this month, ficult time getting local press to she performed at the first “Mira give equal coverage to her own Que Funny!” with her good event. friend and fellow comedienne “I’ve never had so many obSara Contreras from New York stacles. I’ve never had such a City. lack of support,” Valls said. “We “We wanted to bring somesell out Civic Centers. We don’t thing down to Laredo that would have a problem with that. Why make people laugh,” Valls said are we doing this at the Little in an interview with LareDOS. Theater? Because it’s full circle Sara Contreras, left, and, Sandra Valls right, performed at the “Mira Que Funny!” comedy “There is so much going on and for me.” so much bad press toward LareValls is referring to her childshow at the Laredo Little Theater on January 14. Valls hopes that she can host the show in do right now, so we want to make hood. She first performed at the Laredo at least every other month. people forget all the bad stuff theater when she was 8 years old, and just enjoy themselves.” when she played a porcupine in Contreras, the Puerto Rican-bred Valls said was groundbreaking. that, but we don’t,” Valls said. The Great Cross-Country Race. self-proclaimed Brooklynite — she “The Latin Divas was pivotal beContreras added that female com“I’m supporting the theater intechnically lives in New Jersey — has cause not only are Latinos underrep- ics have to convince their audiences stead of renting out the Civic Center,” appeared on shows for MTV3, ABC, resented in the media: women are un- not to pigeonhole them. Valls said. “What we have to do is Fox, and Galavision. Most recently derrepresented in the media, female “People come in already with that bring back laughter to Laredo.” she has showed off her acting chops comics are underrepresented in the attitude,” she said. “A lot of guys alValls will next be in Laredo on on NBC’s Law & Order and Law & Or- media, female comics of color are also ready sitting there and say I’m not February 10, where she will perform der: SVU. underrepresented, and for me — fe- going to laugh. But they are often again at the Laredo Little Theater at Contreras did not take the tradi- male comic and gay,” Valls said. surprised.” the Washington’s Birthday Celebrational route in comedy. After working Valls is open and straightforward Valls, who now lives in Los An- tion’s Jam for George. several jobs, she was a teacher when about her sexuality. She added that geles, said she still keeps a piece of She is still looking for support she entered the “Funniest Teacher she hopes one day she can mention Laredo with her wherever she goes. from the community for her project, Contest” at Stand-Up NY. her girlfriend in a bit without having The city’s people and her upbringing “Mira Que Funny!” To get in contact “My career came at a time where I to first establish that she is gay to au- have influenced her, but she said she with Valls, or for more information on was very frustrated with my life and diences. does not want to reinforce Latino ste- her work, go to For felt trapped,” Contreras said. “This “Some audiences don’t want to reotypes like other mainstream La- more information about Sara Contreopportunity for this [Funniest Teach- hear it, depending on the part of the tino comics. ras, go to ◆ Cristina Herrera/LareDOS


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LTGI’s “Macbeth” debuts Feb. 2 at TAMIU CPFA Theatre


he Laredo Theatre Guild International (LTGI) is in rehearsals for performances of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” which will have a ten-day run from February 2 through February 12 at the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Theatre. The powerful classic tragedy — known for its ghosts, witches, and murderous bloodiness and its central story of royal lineage and succession — is presented by LTGI in cooperation with Texas A&M International University. The production is directed by Vernon Carroll and produced by Joe Ar-


ciniega. Performance times for each week are from Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and matinees Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students with a valid ID and for senior citizens. They are available for advance purchase at Foster’s located at 1202 Del Mar Boulevard, Suite 101; Blue Top located at 101 Hillside Rd #11, and at the TAMIU Bookstore, as well as at the box office prior to each show. According to Carroll, “Murder, mayhem, magic, treachery, and deceit, this has them all. It is one of Shake-

speare’s most exciting plays, and not only for the actors in it. Audiences like it for the action. You can’t beat a good sword fight onstage to grab a crowd’s interest. We see a powerful, intelligent man who has a nation’s unquestioned support and admiration degenerate into a killer without a conscience. His death is inevitable and he knows it, but he goes down fighting. This is Shakespeare at his best!” The production features veteran Laredo performers, alongside novices,

with cast member ages ranging from 11 to 70-plus years. According to Arciniega, who plays Macbeth, “We work very hard to get as close as possible to a professional experience for the audience and the cast. When we have a call for a 70-year-old, we look for one as hard as we can, and fortunately, we generally succeed.” For more information call LTGI at (956) 319-8610 or email LTGI at ◆ —LareDOS Staff

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Keeping a Weather Eye BY JUAN ALANIS

Juan is Webb County Coordinator for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) and an Associate Member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He is currently a teacher at United Middle School.


eat, drought, fire, and ice — 2011 was a year of extremes. For much of Texas, it will be remembered for the excessive heat and drought. Here in South Texas, the biggest story early in the year was the ice storm of February 3 and 4. An Arctic cold front moved through South Texas on February 1, bringing record lows to many areas of South Texas for several days. Laredo did not rise above freezing on February 3, as the high was only 30 degrees. Many areas of the Rio Grande Valley were below freezing for at least 30 hours or more during the height of the Arctic front. Meanwhile an upper-level disturbance moved across the state and pulled in gulf moisture. This, combined with the Arctic air in place, set the stage for what turned out to be one of the most significant ice storms in the history of South Texas. Ice accumulations across Laredo were around one-tenth of an inch, which was enough to cause numerous accidents and the closure of major thoroughfares, including Interstate Highway 35. The hardest hit area was farther south in the Río Grande Valley, where between a half to one inch of ice fell, causing hundreds of accidents, and unfortunately, one death. News archives reported nearly 200 traffic accidents and 65,000 customers without power. Nearly every school, business, and highway was closed on February 3. The most unusual aspect of the ice storm was the first known occurrence of “lake effect” snow in Texas. Lake effect snows are common in the Great Lakes region of the upper Midwest, when cold air picks up

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2011’s icy start gave way to record-breaking heat warm moist air from the water of the Great Lakes. The Arctic cold front brought strong northwest winds that blew right across the length of Falcon Lake, resulting in a narrow band of 1 to 2 inches of snow downwind of Falcon Lake in Zapata and Starr County. By February 5, the Arctic air moved out and the ice and snow melted away. The rest of 2011, we could say, just melted away as La Niña gave us heat, heat, and more heat. La Niña, which refers to the cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean waters, is to blame for the heat and devastating drought of 2011. The pattern allowed for a high-pressure dome to park itself over Texas for much of the summer, sending much-needed rain and relief elsewhere across the country. In an ironic twist, once the ice melted away from the February 4 ice storm, many areas did not receive any more precipitation for several months. Laredo went 97 days without precipitation, tying the record from 1978. Overall for 2011, many areas of Texas finished between 10 to 20 inches below normal rainfall and up to 3 degrees warmer than normal. Many areas, including Laredo, set new records for number of days over 90, days over 100, number of consecutive days over 100, among others. John Nielsen-Gammon, a climatologist and meteorology professor at Texas A&M University, has declared

the current drought the worst in history. The drought has been devastating for farmers and ranchers. Crop production was far below the normal and many ranchers were forced to sell cattle due to lack of forage. In all, the drought and heat has caused an estimated $135 million in agricultural losses in South Texas. On the statewide level, agricultural losses are estimated to be about $ 6 billion. The drought and extreme temperatures also resulted in an exceptionally busy fire season for much of Texas. In South Texas, 356,000 acres were burned, destroying an estimated 200 structures and damaging many more. The biggest fire of 2011 was near Bastrop, which burned a total of 1645 homes, resulting in an estimated $325 million in damage. According to the Texas Forest Service, the Bastrop fire started as a result of gusty winds that knocked

trees down onto power lines, causing sparks to ignite the dry vegetation. While December was a treat with much needed rain here in Laredo, and parts of South Texas, the outlooks for the coming spring are not calling for any improvement. The latest outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center, show below normal precipitation through June, with above normal temperatures to persist through much of the summer 2012. In fact, Nielsen-Gammon said earlier in the year that this current drought could last until 2020. On a worldwide scale, preliminary data from the World Meteorological Organization show that global temperatures in 2011 were the warmest ever for a La Niña event, and tenth warmest overall. (For questions about the weather in South Texas and beyond, contact Alanis by e-mail at juan_laredo@yahoo. com.) ◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

Laredoan moonlights as artist, musician while working 9-5 job


ou could say that Victor Mendoza is a multi-tasker. Besides holding down a job with the City of Laredo’s Planning and Zoning Department, Mendoza writes and performs cover music — and eventually original tunes, he says — with his two bands. He designs album covers, T-shirts, websites. He paints and has started creating music videos. The list might seem a bit intimidating. Music has recently become one of his main passions. It’s not uncommon to see Factura 22, a band he started with some friends, and Orphano, a singer-songwriter venture he works on with his son Andres. Factura 22 will play at the Jamboozie in February as part of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration. As Orphano, Mendoza has been playing gigs at local coffee shops, the Farmers Market, and the Bazaar Laredo. When it comes to his design, Mendoza says his style is “Latino-driven, vintage, and original.” Mendoza has even started designing drumheads, including a piece for the drummer backing Bruno Mars. Mendoza is married and has four children. He has a graphic design degree from the University of Phoenix online, and he’s currently taking classes at Laredo Community College, on top of his day job and artistic pursuits. LareDOS asked Mendoza a few questions about his life, work, and how he juggles it all. Q: Where do the ideas for your T-shirt designs come from? They seem to be reflective of Hispanic/Laredo culture.


A: My inspiration comes from my life in growing up in Laredo. In my younger days, I hung around with a lot of “barrio” homies, and much of my design is a reflection of that. I am inspired by [the barrio’s] people and culture. I love Laredo, and I am a very proud citizen of it. I try to implement Laredo as much as I can in my T-shirt designs. It reduces the market for sales, but it’s who I am. Q: What are your roles in Orphano and Factura 22? A: I am the lead singer, guitarist, and I also play the piano and harmonica on some of our songs for both bands. When we play cumbias in Factura 22, I play the bongos. I do all the sound and I manage all the bookings, promotions, and scheduling of rehearsals for both bands. Fernando Amador of Factura 22 helps me out with creating the song list for Factura. Q: Tell me more about how Orphano started. A: In my younger days of drumming, I often helped different bands fill in as a drummer. The lead singer of one band in particular who I would help often began calling me “El Huérfano.” I asked him why and he replied, “Por que eres como un musico Huérfano que no tiene grupo.” At that time, my Spanish wasn’t too great, and I began tagging the name “huérfano” as “Orphano” because I was just spelling it as I heard it. When my wife corrected me, I decided just to keep it as Orphano. After I sold my kit to help my wife with our firstborn in 1998, I needed to play something, so I went and bought a cheap guitar. After the guitar I learned piano and other instruments, such as bass and the harmonica to help beef up the sound in my solo per-

formances as Orphano. I never really sang as well, but I just went with it and been gigging as Orphano since then. Q: What kind of response has your music gotten from the community? A: Thankfully they’ve been positive. I’ve had great responses from gigging as Orphano and Factura 22. A veteran of Mexico once came up to [a fellow bandmate] and me after we gigged at the Farmers Market. Speaking in Spanish, the man began telling us that what we are doing is beautiful and motivating. He said, “This is what we need to keep our children from drugs and gangs.” Q: What type of paintings do you create? What materials do you use? A: My wife says I’m addicted to skulls! I can’t disagree, but I’ve never wondered why I’m fascinated with skulls. Many people have requested, complimented, and have purchased my skull drawing artwork. Although I sketch more than I paint, when it comes to paintings, I like using acrylics because it dries faster than oil. I like painting on wood, preferably old and distressed wood because it has character. When it comes to sketches, I only use any pencil I can find, a Sharpie, and paper. I’ll sketch whatever is on my mind. Lots of zombies — people have requested zombie-fied portraits of themselves…

Courtesy photo


Q: Where do you hope to be in 10 years? A: I would like to make a living

from my art and music. I’m not seeking to be a Bon Jovi or a Picasso, but it would be great if I could make enough from it to sustain and support my family. In 10 years, I’m looking forward to the growth of both art and music, at least enough to have my own office instead of working from my home after my full time job, and I would like to be a teacher of graphic design at a high school. ◆

The multi-tasker Victor Mendoza’s talents can be found on websites he has designed:

• • • • •

His personal site: His own designs: His art and T-shirt work with Fernando Silva: His band Orphano: The band Factura 22: LareDOS I

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The Read

BY CRISTINA HERRERA LareDOS Staff Note: LareDOS has run book reviews in the past, but this month we solidify our reviews with a column called “The Read.” Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever. By Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard 336 pages, Henry Holt and Co., $28


f you forget the historical and grammatical inaccuracies of the Bill O’Reilly/Martin Dugard collaboration Killing Lincoln you’re left with a disposable Hollywood blockbuster of a novel that is often eyerolling and essentially forgettable. And on January 12, National Geographic announced it was adapting the book for its TV channel with — surprise, surprise — big-time directors Tony and Ridley Scott. The twohour documentary will air next year, and will include CGI and dramatic re-enactments. Killing Lincoln is still high on the The New York Times’ Best Sellers list this month despite scathing reviews from literary critics, historians, and a scathing review from an official reviewer for the National Park Service bookstore in Ford’s Theatre. O’Reilly responded to the criticism by saying the book was “under fire from the forces of darkness” and claimed there were only four inaccuracies and two typos, contradictory to the National Park Service’s review. Oh, brother. As usual, O’Reilly went for an emotional defense and did not logically address the inaccuracies when defending his piece of “nonfiction.” What O’Reilly and his defenders do not get is that this isn’t another attack from the “liberal agenda,” and “people who don’t like [him]” but rather an actual problem, especially as O’Reilly

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wrote a “Note to Readers” that states — this is actually the first sentence you read in the book! — “The story you are about to read is true and truly shocking.” O’Reilly has even urged later that “all students” should read the book. These were dishonest and irresponsible replies to the criticism. How are we supposed to trust a book that is riddled with inaccuracies already, especially as O’Reilly earlier claimed on Fox and Friends that he did not want this to be “another boring history book”? The answer: Don’t take Killing Lincoln at face value, or just skip it altogether as it isn’t that great of a book anyway. It’s really difficult to ignore the outlandish claims and conspiracy theories that O’Reilly and his co-author pose in the book. The book is heavily suggestive of the conspiracy theories, and these theories sometimes venture into Glenn Beck-like craziness. Couple the claims with grammatical mistakes — using “furl his brow” instead of “furrow,” for example — and the astute reader will want to avoid this trashy book. Here are a few of those historical inaccuracies, according to the National Park Service’s review. Most are the inaccuracies are obviously written that way for dramatic effect: O’Reilly states that “The two warriors will never meet again,” referring to Generals Grant and Lee, when in fact they actually met again in 1865 to discuss prisoners of war. O’Reilly makes two references to the Oval Office, but it was not built until 1909, about 44 years after the book’s setting. John Wilkes Booth did not bore a hole in the back wall of Lincoln’s stage box to view him before the assassination. It was actually bored by “Henry Clay Ford, or rather on his orders and was bored for the very simple reason it would allow the guard, on Parker,

easy opportunity whenever he so desired to look into the box rather than to open the inner door to check on the presidential party,” according to letter from Frank Ford. The authors seems to be very sympathetic to the supposed plight of coconspirator Mary Surrat after she was captured and put into custody on the U.S.S. Montauk, according to the book. O’Reilly and Dugard claim that she was forced to wear a padded hood and stayed in a prison that was “barely habitable.” It later states, “Sick and trapped in this filthy cell, Mary Surratt took on a haunted, bloated appearance.” According to expert Edward Steers Jr. of North & South, none of that was true. None. Surratt wasn’t even put into custody on the Montauk, but actually on the Carroll Annex of the Old Capitol Prison. Nor was she shackled or hooded. Talk about a startling inaccuracy for the sake of not being “boring.” And why O’Reilly and Dugard also decided to include references to Booth and Lucy Hale’s “lovemaking” remains a mystery, but I can only surmise this was for some shock value as it did not really add anything to the story but more trashiness. Even if taken as a Da Vinci Codeesque thriller, Killing Lincoln is way behind the fast-paced and much-betterwritten (I cannot believe I am writing that) 2003 best seller from Dan Brown. Basically, you’re comparing Harry Potter with Twilight — one is clearly more imaginative, better written, and memorable. Killing Lincoln is another one of O’Reilly’s ego projects, and Abraham Lincoln himself is built up as a monolithic figure who predicted his own death, according to rumors incorporated into the book’s storytelling. As I kept reading, I could hear O’Reilly’s angry voice calling Lincoln a “patriot” and other characters “pinheads,” as on his Fox News show. In this book Lin-

Henry Holt and Co.

Nat Geo Channel set to adapt inaccurate, cheesy ‘Killing Lincoln’

coln remains another faraway character in a “history” book, not a man. While much of Killing Lincoln lags in pace and lacks the “shocking” excitement it promises, some strengths of this book are found in the Civil War battle scenes and the author’s portrayal of the fascinating relationship between the South’s Robert E. Lee and the North’s Ulysses S. Grant. But here again, we find inaccuracies, so take them with a grain of salt. If only the authors realized that there are plenty of fascinating anecdotes to relate to readers without having to revise history. However it’s easy for the reader to get caught up in some of the more thrilling battle scenes. For a good laugh and maybe a teensy bit of excitement (especially for the Civil War battle fanatics), go ahead and breeze through Killing Lincoln’s 336 pages. But do not make the mistake of looking to this heavily fictionalized work — done mostly to spice up an already-fascinating history — as truth. You’ll probably get just as much mental stimulation from watching the Nat Geo Channel’s documentary next year. ◆


Maverick Ranch Notes


Maverick ranchers hopeful for better weather, more listening


he New Year rolled in without a pause. So far we have had bright, sunny, warm days and chilly, overcast ones. It has also been windy, and there has even been some moisture. Presently there is a bright green covering of vegetation here in the yard in spite of some frosty mornings. A few trees tried to put on new leaves last fall while others were putting on a spectacular show of fall colors. Some wildflowers that are usually spring bloomers even began flowering and I am still seeing flowers. I understand La Niña will be with us again this year, so who knows what to expect? I do hope it won’t be as dry and hot as last summer. One of the best gifts so far this year is the return of the robins. It has easily been 10 years since we last saw the numbers that are here presently. To hear and see them in the yard and the little field below the wall is such a delight. It will mean more little cedars popping up; however I would rather be with more cedars than without robins. They are uplifting to one’s spirit. Our birding neighbor and his wife are joining us on a birding walk at the ranch tomorrow. It will give me the opportunity to sharpen my winter sparrow skills. I was able to finally catch the stray cat that was hanging around getting fatter and fatter. He weighed in at 15 pounds on the vet’s scale. I offered him to a relative who declined the offer and then promptly adopted a smaller version of him from a friend. Well, I’ll be! Actually I don’t expect to soften up to my fellow any time soon, if ever. My chicken population has grown


by four, and the egg production has also increased. So far they all seem to be getting along — just a peck or two in passing, though nothing serious. I have vegetables thriving in pots on the front porch and getting plenty of sunshine. The chard, spinach, and sorrel are a welcome part of my meals. There are also pots with collards and chives that are surviving the freezes out in the yard. So far, gardening in pots over the winter is succeeding nicely. — Sissy Fenstermaker We see what we want to see and don’t see much else. Today, walking around outside the house yard, I saw for the first time scrappy cedars and huisaches coming up everywhere. Out came the loppers but surprise, they are now chainsaw-sized. How could that happen? I look out of the yard all the time. When the cows come up I’m always looking at them and I often look beyond down to the spring and creek. By not seeing the middle distance, I missed the oncoming second growth bushes. Was it conscious or unconscious avoidance? Cutting brush is a forever job; avoidance is easier but the job is bigger in the end. By this time in life, I know that. Same thing goes for listening. If a cat thinks suppertime has come and I’m deep in a book, it may take the dog bumping my knee before I hear the cat. Sometimes I hear what someone has said only when I get home. Scary, but true. Hardest to bear are the notquite-remembered stories when the teller is gone from this life. Oh to have listened, closer, or just to have taken a

note at that moment would have taken such a little effort. The results of not truly listening teach the hard way. Papa called making that kind of effort “getting off your pants.” Pay attention, listen, and take it in! And turn off the blasted internal dialogue. I once shot myself in the foot because of internal blather. Papa, Uncles Arthur and Clarence, my Aunt Dorothy, and I were out target practicing at Uncle Clarence’s farm. Kindly they let me go first and with Papa’s .22 hairtrigger pistol. Uncle Arthur, a crack shot, stood with me and warned me five times to keep my arm up. But I wasn’t really listening to him. The sixth time I hit a meatier target and hoped no one would notice. I was grateful I hadn’t hit Uncle Arthur. It was a pretty good shot, too, right through the middle of my foot. But as all gunshots go, everybody

noticed. There were plenty of weeks to reflect and think about internal dialogue. I still use the memory of it to remind myself to listen. To see and to listen require staying in the moment. With so much past and future to think about, it’s common to not stay in the moment. But thinking behind or ahead only involves one’s perception of things. It skips being in the present, which is reality. And not staying in the moment can be dangerous. Try driving in traffic these days. Carpenters, surgeons, and seamstresses know what staying in the moment means. Giving up internal dialogue and pursuing full attention takes a lot of work and constant self-reminding. It means keeping things simple. By staying in the moment, we might see some things we were not aware of — and we might hear sounds we had never heard before. — Bebe Fenstermaker

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South Texas Food Bank BY SALO OTERO

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

December was a special time for giving — giving thanks for all the blessings during the year, and prayerfully hoping for continued blessings of a new year. The South Texas Food Bank (STFB) board echoed those sentiments at its December meeting when the South Texas Outreach Foundation (STOF), headed by Laredoans William Dickinson and his mother, Mrs. Charles B. Dickinson Sr., the former Bertha Garza, received a standing ovation from STFB. The foundation was lauded as one of the primary 2011 benefactors of the food bank. William Dickinson and his wife, Gloria, were special guests at the monthly meeting, representing STOF. “In these difficult economic times with increased demand for food and reductions from government surplus supplies, the [STOF] has come through once again to help us in our mission to alleviate hunger in our service area,” said STFB executive director Alfonso Casso Jr. The Dickinsons received high praise for awarding the food bank a $50,000 grant. The grant money was earmarked for what an STFB spokesman called “a combination plate” to help three STFB programs and to purchase the most basic commodities: beans and rice. The money will assist three programs for veterans outreach, the elderly, and Kids Cafes. Each month the food bank serves supplemental food to 500 veterans and their widows and more than 7,000 elderly. Thirteen Kids Cafes in Laredo-Webb County serve an after-school meal to almost 1,000 children from Monday through Friday. STOF now has a three-year history with the food bank. Two previous grants were used to purchase two vehicles to transport food and supplies. The food bank serves more than 350,000 residents in an eight-

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county area from Rio Grande City (Starr County) to Del Rio (Val Verde County). The majority of those served live in the LaredoWebb County area. “This grant is a prime example of a local foundation and family helping their community in need of a very basic necessity, which is food,” Casso Jr. said. “The grant will allow us to purchase food items such as rice and beans to make up for the shortfall we are experiencing.” Food for thought Katelyn Reese, 5, granddaughter of Laredo Daybreak Rotarians Jim and Cathey Moore, presented a gift to the food bank at a December meeting for the Rotary club. Reese, a student at Kristi-Lin’s Academy, collected money at home in a 2-gallon jar from family members and visitors, and donated it to the food bank. She had $292 in coins and bills, and Rotarians added another $74 that morning. Gwen Garza of the Great American Cookie Company in Mall del Norte hosted a ”Happy Hour” at her home, collecting monetary donations for the Adopt-a-Family program and peanut butter as part of a food drive. And thanks to all the personal and club donations in support of STFB’s mission of feeding the hungry. In the hierarchy of needs, food and water are at the top. Thanks to our network, the food bank has both food and water to assist the unemployed, underemployed, and those on fixed incomes. ◆

Send donations to South Texas Food Bank

1907 Freight St. Laredo, TX 78041

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 gotten the meaning of the Christian values they often flaunt. The cynicism is abhorrent. Having been raised in a Laredo neighborhood in a city once cited for the poorest-per-capita-income area in the country, I have a unique perspective to challenge the unfair attacks. Determined to succeed, I was taught at an early age to work hard. I graduated from high school, honorably served my country, graduated from college with a Masters degree, had a successful professional career, and was able to provide for my family. I am happy to report that I was not the exception in beating poverty. Through the years, I have met many of my barrio friends who were also successful in chasing their dream. We faced daily shadows of danger, but we never lacked for good advice. Our role models were migrant field workers, day laborers, carpen-

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 cent of the Arizona detainees during Fiscal Year 2011 hailed from Guerrero. The detainees were mainly from the urban municipalities of Acapulco and Chilpancingo, both places where economic crisis or narco-violence are the lot of daily life, or from indigenous municipalities characterized by economic marginalization and out-migration. Padilla said the trend of Guerrero detainees continued after the end of the last fiscal year, when once again about 9 percent of the 27,100 people detained by the Border Patrol in Arizona from October to December 2011 turned out to be from the troubled southern state. Approximating 3.4 million people in 2010, residents of Guerrero constituted about three percent of Mexico’s population of 112.3 million, according to official census statistics. The U.S. spokesman warned would-be, unauthorized crossers to

ters, plumbers, painters, gardeners, maids, and waiters who rose at dawn and walked to the bus stop or job site. Then they walked back, dead-tired at dusk. The next morning they did it again. Whenever they stopped for a chat, they’d give us a smile, a pat on the head, and pleaded with us to be good to our parents, stay in school, and work hard to better ourselves. My father, a grocery store butcher, gave me the same counsel. Similar role models exist today in poor neighborhoods and give the same advice to their kids. In the end, conservative-led state legislatures and fanatical politicians in Washington have a clear agenda that is not kind to the poor. The poor need a hand up, not a closed fist. They deserve mercy, compassion, and dignity. President Johnson understood that. It was the fuel that powered his War on Poverty and the thrust behind his dream of a Great Society. ◆

stay away, saying the situation was dangerous. Migrants are enlisted as drug-carrying “mules” or subjected to robbery and worse, Padilla said. On December 24, a young woman was raped and hospitalized with a lung injury, he said. “There are many dangers in trying to illegally cross the border,” Padilla added. The bodies of presumed migrants continue being recovered in 2012. Last week, it was reported that the Baja California state police came across the body of an unidentified migrant who was thought to have died while trying to cross the border between Tijuana and Tecate. (From Frontera NorteSur on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Additional sources: La Jornada, January 23, 2012. Article by Ciro Perez Silva. El Sur, January 20, 2012. Article by Mariana Labastida. El Sol de Tijuana, January 18, 2012.) ◆


Notes from LaLa Land

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


orn in Laredo, grand opera artist René Barbera hit the jackpot in July last year when he made history in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia in Moscow — the first male performer to win three prizes in the world’s most prestigious contest for young opera singers. At 27, Barbera has studied opera seriously for only five years. Indeed, a young artist on the rise, he is a 3-year member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center. He won first in opera, first in Zarzuela, and first in the audience prize in the Operalia competition. Barbera was the 2008 winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and he was a member of San Francisco’s top-notch Merola Opera Program. He studied at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts from 2004 to 2008, went on for more study at the American Institute of Vocal Arts in Austria and the Colorado College Vocal Arts Symposium. Barbera moved to San Antonio when he was 9. He recalled that his third grade teacher in Laredo attached a sticky note telling the music teacher at his next school to get him into choir because she thought he had a good singing voice. He said his parents were both teachers and were always very supportive of his pursuits. “When I auditioned at UT-San Antonio, I had planned on majoring in education, as I wanted to be a high school choir director. Some of the voice faculty suggested I change my major to performance, and that’s how I ended up in opera,” Barbera said. He dropped out of UTSA, moved to Colorado to figure out what to do with


Former Laredoan is opera’s triple winner his life, and ended up at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied for 4 years. Barbera said he made “great friends and excellent connections” at the Operalia competition. “Placido Domingo is a truly great man who has done and is still doing so much for the opera world. He is trying to help the young singers of the world any way he can, and I am thrilled I have made a connection with him,” Barbera said. Barbera will finish a final year with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center in Chicago. He will play Lord Arturo Bucklaw in the Italian tragedy Lucia di Lammermoor and Brighella in the German classic Ariadne auf Naxos at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Va. He is part of the cast of The Barber of Seville in Vancouver and the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Gianni Schicchi in Toronto. Regarding technique, expression, and emotion, Barbera said, “I was lucky to have a voice teacher who understood how to get me to do things through imagery. I don’t really have to focus too much on my technique. I know what I’m doing and how to fix things that aren’t working, but most of the time I just warm up and get going. At this point, I’m really trying to focus on my acting and interpretation. Acting has always been my weakest point, and I have only recently been able to let go of my inhibitions little by little.” As to his process for learning a new role, Barbera said he first reads a synopsis of the opera, preferably a sceneby-scene description. He translates the opera from cover to cover and sits with the score and listens to a recording of the opera. “Once I have a grasp on the parts, I take the role to a coach and work with him or her on the parts I’ve already worked out and any parts that are giv-

ing me a hard time,” he said. As to the future, Barbera said, “I would love to get to Europe and take some auditions, and travel as much as possible. I definitely think opera think will go through changes in the future, but it will survive. When 16,000 people show up to a free outdoor concert in Chicago, and the baseball park in San Francisco is packed for a live broadcast of ‘Lucia,’ I can’t help but feel very hopeful about the future of opera.” And so we reach the end of another column on talented ex-Laredoans who are out there shining brightly, making the world a better place. My friend Temo Rocha sent the news tip on Barbera. A friend for many years now, Temo and Sylvia Rocha have lived in Azusa, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles for the past 36 years. Barbera’s grandfather and parents were friends of

Courtesy of Kristin Hoebermann/Columbia Artists Management Inc.


Temo. Go to for more information about Barbera. To close, as Norma Adamo says: TAN TAN!

Laredo-born René Barbera has found great success in the opera scene, winning three prizes in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia competition in Moscow.

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Sushi Madre 401 W. Saunders St. The MC has to revise his original ravings about Sushi Madre. While the sushi cannot be beat — tested on multiple friends and acquaintances of the MC — not much can be said about the service after multiple trips. The servers are often not very attentive to the needs of customers, and on more than one occasion, the MC has been left waiting a long time for the tab when he’s ready to leave. Sometimes it’s even difficult to get the attention of the servers. In Laredo, it often seems you sacrifice service for food, or vice versa.

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Restaurant service leaves bad taste; state leads MC on wild goose chase Texas Comptroller’s Office Laredo and Austin locations The MC takes off his retail service hat and puts on his taxpaying hat as he evaluates the Texas Comptroller’s office. The local field office could not give him the information he required, so he was sent to the state office, which also led him on a wild goose chase for information. Staff members seemed thoroughly uninformed, even though he thoroughly checked the correct terms for the information and also explained as specifically as he could. Getting public information from the state is always a difficult situation.

Kohl’s 5219 Santa Maria Ave. Though the discounts on nice clothing have been helpful to the MC, the service at Kohl’s has been nothing special. Listless employees seem stuck in their own world, and it’s difficult to find somebody who can help find an item. Service suffers in hard economic times, unfortunately. Mariscos El Pescador 3919 San Dario Ave. Sometimes the MC feels cursed to get servers’ shift changes time after time. The latest shift change to wreak havoc was at Mariscos El Pescador, where the MC and his guest enjoyed some delicious appetizers before the main show.

After 20 minutes of waiting, the MC asked the waitress — who was not the same one who he originally had — where his entrees were. She said she had not been informed of any more dishes, even though the MC and his guest saw the first waitress write down the whole order, even asking for sides in both entrees. Good mariscos; spotty service. Webb County Tax Office Webb County Justice Center 1110 Victoria St. #107 The momentum to get jobs done timely and efficiently in this office is legendary. The MC had two especially good experiences — one to do with property taxes and the other to do with auto sticker renewals. The cross training of employees is a model other Webb County offices would do well to follow. ◆


Maria Eugenia Guerra/LareDOS

Home on the range TAMU-Kingsville sophomore Jenny Santos is pictured doing what she loves best, working with horses. She is pictured over the Christmas break at her father’s equestrian training facility in Zapata.


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Movie Review: Oscar Season

The kindest magic trick of all: Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' BY CORDELIA BARRERA LareDOS Contributor

us. The second half of the film fluidly shifts its focus to the stuff of history and legend: the groundbreaking and influential works of French filmmaker and magician Georges Méliès,Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a young boy who lives with his father (played in flashback by Jude Law), a master clockmaker. His father teaches him the art of clockwork and instills in him a love of the movies. When his father dies in a museum fire, the child is taken away by his uncle, an alcoholic watchmaker who is responsible for maintaining the clocks at the Montparnasse railway station in Paris. His uncle teaches Hugo to take care of the clocks and quickly disappears. Hugo secretly lives in the walls of the train station, maintaining the clocks, and stealing food to survive. He also works on his father’s broken automaton, which was discarded by a museum. Hugo steals mechanical parts from the station’s toyshop to continue his father’s work, but the shop’s owner (marvelously played by Ben Kingsley) catches him, and subsequently snatches Hugo’s father’s notebook, which he is convinced the boy has stolen. The automaton is missing one essential part: a heart–shaped key. Convinced that the automaton contains a message from his father, Hugo


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Courtesy of paramount Studios

secret. Hugo is highly symbolic: The deliartin Scorsese’s 3-D cate machinery that film, Hugo, is a story keeps the hands of about the power of the giant Montparmovies. A sumptuous nasse railway staand sometimes breathtaking advention clock running ture about the potential of films — smoothly is much and the dreamers behind them — to like the delicate transport, inspire, and invigorate us machinery of our with their awesome visions, Hugo is hearts and minds. a master filmmaker’s gift to children After suffering great and adults alike. Impeccably crafted, loss — the loss of and an obvious labor of love, Hugo is his caring father — Scorsese’s tribute to the magic of the Hugo has only one cinema. thing: hope. It is Scorsese’s primary inspiration in this hope that fuels Hugo is the true story of turn-of-thehis actions, and as century pioneer filmmaker Georges he is forced to move Méliès, his surviving films, and his beyond the concollection of mechanical, wind-up figfines of the walls ures called “automata,” a moniker for where he hides, his a self-operating autonomous robot. actions begin to The film is based on writer/illustraenrich the lives of tor’s Brian Selznick’s The Invention of those he touches. Hugo Cabret, winner of the 2008 CalMuch of the joy of decott Medal, among the most presHugo is invested in tigious of American children’s book its detective-story Asa Butterfield plays Hugo Cabret in Martin Scorsese’s awards. plot. Hugo. The first half of the film is like a As the mystery dazzling preamble, an adventure stoat the heart of Hugo unfolds, we be- of the assorted pleasures of Hugo is ry that introduces its heroes and vilgin to understand that the delicate that many of the early silent films lains amidst a magnificent 1930s railmovements of a greater clockwork shown — such as Le voyage dans la road station of the world lune/A Trip to the Moon (1902) and in Paris and bind us to Le voyage à travers l’impossible/ the symbolic As the mystery at the heart of Hugo unfolds, we each other; An Impossible Voyage (1904) — are resonance all have Méliès’ actual works. In Scorcese’s begin to understand that the delicate movements of a greater we that 3-D was a purpose, hands, the flat, often awkward imclockwork of the world bind us to each other; we all have a and it is only ages in these films are rendered meant to support — when purpose, and it is only through the connections we forge that through the strikingly beautiful — however melit’s divested connections ancholic. we may discover ourselves as a gift for others. of its gimwe forge There is a grand metaphor at mickry and that we may work in Hugo, and the film’s archeinstead used d i s c o v e r types — its heroes and villains, its to thematically draw its audience into is desperate to retrieve his father’s ourselves as a gift for others. dreamers, and scapegoats — remind a marvelous realm where wizards and notebook. He befriends Isabelle, the An homage to an art form that us that it’s never too late to dream visionaries live among dreamers and toyshop owner’s goddaughter, and, has undoubtedly touched, and like- again, and we are never too old to adventurers, and, of course, the rest of in time, we learn the shop owner’s ly enriched the lives of so many, one believe in magic.◆ W W W.L A RED OS N E WS.CO M

Traditionally Modern Cooking

Valentine’s Day dinner $IJDLFO1JDBU UB Courtesy of Jason Herrera

• • • •


Let’s face it; January is a somewhat forgettable month. People are recovering from the holiday season, and that includes recovery from all the rich and complex food. Despite its less-than-glamorous reputation, January is a transitional month for me. I use it to get used to the new year, and before I know it, it’s February. Speaking of which, because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’ve decided to share a simple, yet elegant and romantic menu with my readers. There’s plenty of time for a test run and alterations to tailor this menu to your tastes. Perfection comes more easily if you’ve had practice. The recipes that follow are divided in half, for two people. If you are cooking for a family of four, simply double the recipe. Cooking time is the same regardless. The main dish is chicken, my favorite meat because it is light, and when done properly, has a memorable flavor without becoming off-putting. Chicken picatta takes mere minutes to prepare — from stove to table. A slab of chicken breast is pounded out with a mallet until it is even and thin, and then breaded and pan-fried in olive oil. After 5 to 8 minutes, (2-4 minutes on either side) the breasts are golden and ready to eat. Its subtle flavor and perfect texture are sure to please any spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend. The two supporting sides are roasted asparagus and cous cous, both incredibly easy to prepare. The asparagus takes 10 minutes


2 chicken breasts 1 egg 1 cup breadcrumbs (regular or Panko) Italian seasoning (or any mixture of seasoning you like)

• Salt and pepper • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1 tablespoon butter

and the cous cous 5. In theory, you could get this meal on the table in fewer than 15 minutes. Purchase a store-bought dessert and you’ve got a stress-free dinner fit for a king. I cannot live with myself after serving a bought dessert for a romantic meal, so if I have an hour — and I mean only an hour — I’ll make bread pudding. It’s a recipe I’ve adapted from my favorite cook, Nigella Lawson. If you don’t know of her, Google her; she’s amazing. For something that tastes like it took hours to prepare, caramel bread pudding requires mere minutes to assemble. The hardest thing about this dessert is trying not to eat too much. You do have to make caramel, and if it fails like it did my first time, no worries. For example, caramel requires boiling sugar and water until it turns amber. Then you add cream or milk and stir like crazy. If you get a lump of caramel candy after adding the cream to the cooked sugar and water like I did, simply add milk and bring to a simmer on medium heat. The candy should melt into the liquid and you can continue making the pudding. Sample the mixture to ensure it doesn’t taste scorched. For perfect timing, start cooking the bread pudding first. Then begin the chicken. When the chicken is almost done, start the asparagus. Six minutes before serving, start the cous cous. If you get the chicken done first, place in a 350-degree oven until you are ready to serve dinner.

Pound the chicken out using the flat side of a meat tenderizer between two sheets of wax paper until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick. Beat the egg on a plate and place the breasts on the plate. Coat with egg. Pour breadcrumbs onto a plate and season well. Salt and pepper the breast, then coat with breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, on medium-high heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Add the breast and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Serve hot.

$BSBNFMCSFBEQVEEJOH • 4 stale rolls (or slightly toasted fresh rolls) • 1/2 cup sugar • 2 tablespoons water • 1/2 cup cream • 1/2 cup milk • 2 eggs beaten Swirl — don’t stir — the sugar and water together in a saucepan. Boil on high heat for 3-5 minutes until it turns a light amber color. Quickly pour in the cream; it will spit and make a loud noise. Stir in the milk and eggs. Meanwhile, tear the rolls into pieces in a large dish. Pour the cream mixture over the top of the bread and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the eggs have cooked. Serve hot.


Herrera is an English major at Oklahoma City University. He’s had a passion for cooking since he was 8 years old, when he started teaching himself recipes and eventually, creating his own scrumptious meals. Herrera also enjoys gardening and horror movies.

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t the peak of higher populations of native and migrating bird species in Laredo and Webb County, the Laredo Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will host its Fourth Annual Laredo Birding Festival from February 1 to 4. Late January and early February are prime time to catch sight of a possible 240 species living in or passing through in the area. The festival, which draws local enthusiasts and birders from throughout the nation and other countries, features visits to well-established local and regional sites for bird watching, as well as field trips to nearby ranches. Sightings unique to Laredo include the white collared seedeater, the green parakeet, and four species of kingfisher. The Monte Mucho Audubon Society will act as local field guides for the festival, and together with individual wildlife biologists assigned to each individual outing, registrants in the festival will learn about habitat and will receive on-target identification in the field. This year’s event includes the participation of three birding experts — Pete Dunne, Gene Blacklock, and Ro Wauer, who will present on a variety of birding topics during the festival’s evening sessions. Additionally, special guests from the Texas Ornithological Society will promote their respective organizations and the various birding field trips they organize throughout the year. The festival’s participants can avail themselves of wildlife photography field trips sponsored by the Images for Conservation Fund (ICF) that will be held at two ranches set up with special blinds for wildlife photography. Attendees will be paired with a local guide and an expert wildlife photographer from the 2010 ICF Pro Tour of Nature Photography Borderlands of Laredo Texas competition. The festival opens Wednesday, February 1 with an informal meet and greet reception at La Posada, the host hotel. Visit-

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ing birders can meet local members of the Monte Mucho Audubon Society and the roster of speakers for the four-day event. Local birder and wildlife photographer Butch Ramirez will exhibit his photos at the reception, which is free and open to the public. Curbside transportation from La Posada to all outings will be provided by the CVB. A complete schedule of birding outings, sites, events, and information on registration is available at the Laredo CVB website, Speaker Pete Dunne, a natural history and birding writer, is the founder of the World Series of Birding and is the current director of the Cape May Bird Observation. He is vice president of natural history for the New Jersey Audubon Society, and publisher of New Jersey Audubon magazine. He will speak on pishing or squeaking, the art of calling hidden birds. Dunne is a well known author and co-author of numerous books about birds and birding including Hawks in Flight, Pete Dunne on Birding, Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion and The Art of Pishing. He is best known for his skills as a hawk watcher. Gene Blacklock, noted birding book author, guide and educator will present on Birds in Texas. He is a curator, naturalist, and educator at the Welder Wildlife Foundation. In the 1960s, Blacklock founded the annual Texas Colonial Waterbird Survey and Census, the longest ongoing survey of its type to address the near-extinction of the brown pelican in Louisiana and Texas. He also worked as a biologist with colonial water birds along the Texas Central Coast with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, became senior partner of a private environmental consulting firm, and was Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program project manager from 2000 to 2010. Naturalist and conservationist Ro Wauer, retired from the National Park service after 32 years as a park ranger, regional chief scientist, and Chief of National Resource Management in Washington,

DC, is the event’s third speaker. He is the author of over 180 nature articles and has authored 25 books, including Finding Butterflies in Texas, Butterflies of the Lower Rio

Grande Valley, Field Guide to the Birds of Big Bend National Park, three visitor’s guide books to national parks in the USA and Canada, and Birder’s Mexico. ◆


Laredo Community College

Family Fun Fest celebrates 24 years; Phase I facilities completed Special to LareDOS


amily Fun Fest and Musicale, now in its 24th year, will be held on the Fort McIntosh Campus grounds next to the Maravillo Gymnasium on February 11 from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The Musicale highlights the talents of the college’s performing arts programs and as well as those from other local schools and private dance studios. Modern dance, mariachi music, and traditional Mexican dances can all be found on the main stage. LCC student organizations will be operating food concessions, selling fare such as hot dogs, burgers, corn dogs, nachos, pizza, corn-in-a-cup, funnel cakes, roasted corn, candy, and marshmallow shish kabobs, among many others. College faculty and staff will host interactive games and activities that include a petting zoo, rock climbing, face painting, inflatable slides, and bounce houses. ON TIME AND UNDER BUDGET Laredo Community College invites students and the community to the opening of its two newest instructional facilities: the $14.7 million Lewis Energy Group Academic Center (LEAC) and the $9.6 million Visual and Performing Arts Center (VPA). Inaugural ceremonies will be held Monday, February 27 at 9:30 a.m. with tours of the new facilities and to thank donor Rod Lewis, president and CEO


for Lewis Energy Group, and a former LCC student. Both buildings, part of Phase I of LCC’s Facilities Master Plan, were completed on-schedule in December 2011 and are in use for the Spring 2012 semester. Construction costs for Phase I came in under budget, saving the college about $500,000. Included in phase 1 of the plan was the $3.8 million renovation and expansion of the Moore Vocational Building and a new 300vehicle parking lot at the north side of campus. The 111,045 square-foot LEAC is named in honor of Lewis, whose $1 million donation helped facilitate the purchase of equipment and furnishings for the new facility. The structure will house the departments of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Distance Learning. Select kinesiology courses also will be housed on the first floor. The $9.6 million VPAC is a 47,000square-foot complex that will house six academic music/art classrooms, and studios for dance, ceramics, painting, and metal arts. It also will feature an art gallery, music practice rooms, faculty offices, and department offices. The Facilities Master Plan will be fulfilled in several phases to rejuvenate the communications and technological infrastructure, as well as the physical facilities of the 63-yearold Fort McIntosh Campus. Now that the challenge of the master plan’s first phase has been met, LCC is preparing for the second phase, which consists of 22 improvements. ◆


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LWCBA’s Noche de Agave hits high notes for fun, music, and scholarship funds


he Laredo Webb County Bar Association (LWCBA) held its Third Annual Noche Agave Tequila Tasting and Silent Auction January 20 at Paseo Real reception hall, hitting high notes for attendance, fun, music, and scholarship raising. The event is among the first to kick off the Washington’s Birthday Celebration festivities. The Grammy-winning Grupo Fantasma provided the evening’s entertainment. Asked to comment on the evening, LWCBA President George Altgelt characterized the crowd as, “folks just dancing the night away.”

A variety of tequilas, complimentary of Glazer Distributors, were available for the event. Individual tickets were sold at $100 and tables went for $1,000, $1,500, and $2,500. Early tabulations signaled that the LWCBA had — after expenses — raised over $40,000 from ticket and table sales, a silent auction, and a raffle for a diamond pendant. Once the funds are matched by the Fernando A. Salinas Trust, approximately $40,000 each will go into scholarship endowments at Laredo Community College and TAMIU. The LCC fund is called the Laredo Webb County Bar Association and Fernando Salinas Trust endowment. The TAMIU endowment is named for the

late Barbara Kazen, the much beloved director of the Bethany House shelter and kitchen for the homeless. Of the event, Altgelt said, “The motivation behind this event is an extension of what we lawyers do. We service our clients and try to make the world a better place. We were able to raise funds to assist those students who are academically equipped but financially disadvantaged.” For additional information on the Courtesy photo


event please contact Mark Garner, executive assistant for the LWCBA, at (956) 725-4400, e-mail, or visit 1120 Matamoros Street. ◆

SMW Patriot Scholarship recipients

Photos by Monica McGettrick

Melissa C. Cigarroa, president Society of Martha Washington and Dr. Jane Unzeitig, Scholarship Committee chair are pictured (standing) with 2012 SMW Patriot Scholarship recipients Jasmin Escobar, Alexander High School; Ricardo Perez, Nixon High School; Amanda Castillo and Alexa Vasquez, United South High School; Edward Castillo and Maria Ruiz, LBJ High School. Seated from left to right is SMW Madrina Committee chair Tina Cerda with recipients Daniela Vargas and Karina Treviño, Martin High School; Brenda Loera and Karina Mendoza, Cigarroa High School; Selina Quiroz, United High School; and Kayla Gloria, Early College High School. The students will travel to Washington, D.C. to attend a one-week educational program called “Close Up Washington.”

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Laredos Jan. 2012  

tejano monument, LIFE, wbca, jamboozie

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