Thursday, March 22, 2018


By Juan Montoya

It all started a few days ago when City of Brownsville Commissioner Ben Neece and Interim City Manager Michael Lopez attended a ceremony at the offices of the Customs and Border Patrol when new Port Director Tater Ortiz announced their measures to facilitate bridge crossing for Holy Week travelers from Mexico.

“Holy Week is a peak travel period and CBP has implementation of multiple facilitation measures and travel tips continues to aid in keeping wait times down to manageable levels while retaining our ability to carry out our border security mission,” said Ortiz. “We encourage travelers to present WHTI- (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) compliant documents during inspection, and use their RFID-enabled documents through our Ready Lanes."
A CBP officer conducts a primary inspection at Brownsville Port of Entry
It struck Neece that the the city of Brownsville could also assist the CPB in making travel easier for Semana Santa tourists who spend money in the city and in South Padre Island.

"At that time we asked whether the city could ask the CBP to open an extra traffic and pedestrian lane and we were told that the city didn't have a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with them, but that Cameron County did."

If they could get the county to agree to let the city piggyback on their MOU and reimburse the CBP for their manpower to monitor the lanes, he didn't see any problem, Ortiz said.

Neece and Lopez then approached the county and requested that the city be allowed to use their existing MOU. At the last meeting, the county commissioners considered approving another MOU between the city and the county in executive session and it was approved. Before that, the city commission had voted to make the request to the county.

Now Lopez said that they are awaiting the response from the CBP on the request as early as Friday. Holy week extends from March 25 to march 31. Ultimately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will recommend the best times to open additional lanes to ensure safety and efficiency, he said.

But while the county approved the city piggybacking on its MOU, the commissioners did not approve sharing in the cost or reimbursing the CBP and the city will have to pay for it alone. That's why some commissioners were miffed when County Judge Eddie Treviño was quoted in the local daily as if it had been the county's idea.

"We hope this measure encourages visitors to return and invite their friends," he told the daily. "If this mode and process works, it is something that we might want to do for other busy times of the year."

Did anyone get the license plates of that hijacker?


By Juan Montoya
After almost two years of refusing to divulge the full extent of its financial involvement with two vendors alleged to have milked the Brownsville Independent School District through their questionable sales and billing abetted by the district's Purchasing and Food and Nutrition Service departments, the true picture has begun to emerge.

Image result for baltazar salazarThe first one involves Valco Foods LLC, the McAllen company that is being sued by the BISD to recover close to $400,000 for spoiled barbacoa meat the district says it never got refunded.

BISD general counsel Baltazar Salazar was authorized to file a lawsuit in state district court last September. Valco was a member of the Region One Cooperative and the BISD says it wants to recover at least $396,000 of what it paid the company for meat that was considered spoiled and detected on November 2016.

Sources say the lawsuit amounts to a diversion to conceal the extent of the scandal.

Valco Foods was approved to provide Region 1 member school districts with 20,000 pounds per month of shredded beef, barbacoa style, from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017 with 1 two‐year extension option.

Image result for cesar lopez, BISD It was unknown how many pounds that Valco Foods delivered under the Region 1 contract had been bought by the BISD. If fulfilled, the company stood to make $3,019,200 over the 24 month period of deliveries to Region 1 member school districts.

And even though Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas said at the time that "the product was raised and purchased in the United States from a USDA approved vendor but was processed in Mexico according to USDA guidelines and under the supervision of a USDA inspector," the lawsuit hints otherwise.

"Defendants had knowledge that the meats did not meet the required state and federal mandate under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Buy American Provisions as required under the contract. The BISD relied on the defendant's representations that the meat me the "Buy American Provisions" and paid off the meats in full."

BISD has resisted the request to provide us with a copy of the report put together by the Walsh Gallegos law firm on the BISD dealings with Valco, the provider of barbacoa until they went out of business.

The BISD instead has sought an opinion from the Texas Attorney General to exempt the information from public disclosure. But new information available to El Rrun-Rrun suggests the district has sought to mask the true state of its involvement with the company and that instead of the $500,000 it says it spent, the total approximates almost twice as much.

This blog has obtained BISD documents that indicate that between July 1 and September 23, 2015, the district paid Agrifact Capital, LLC a total of $477,753 for four purchases and that the following month, on October 29,2015, it issued a purchase order for another $496,455 for meat products from the same company. That totals $973,208 the BISD paid the company.

Agrifact Capital, we have now learned, was the assignee for Valco Foods, and in our requests for information on Valco, it was not named. BISD did not disclose that fact in its information request aeppeal.
Image result for esperanza zendejas
What's more, we have also learned that current BISD board president Cesar Lopez was personally involved in the purchase of the meat products from the Mexican company producer, and that BISD superintendent Esperanza Zendejas and counsel Baltazar informed some board members of his involvement. Lopez reportedly traveled to Mexico with Food and Nutrition Service Dept. director Silveiro Capistran and unnamed investors as guests of the meat producers.

Partly as a result of the scandal surrounding the spoiled Mexican-produced meat, it is believed that Capistran reportedly committed suicide. He was said by family members to have been despondent over the unraveling of the scheme and other questionable purchases by the FNS.

During a recent board meeting, Salazar admitted that a report on the Valco (Agrifact Capital) matter had been ordered by Walsh, Gallegos. However, although he promised a board member that he would send a copy of the report, he never did. When this blog made in information request for the report, the district appealed the request to the AG.

"The suit in district court against Valco is just a ruse to divert the public's attention from the truth," a source close to the BISD administration asserted.

Next: The Grafik Spot debacle.


By Juan Montoya
What if you wanted to set up a business but did not have enough parking space to get approval from the City of Brownsville?

Image result for rose gowenThat scenario has happened many times and usually it means that the business will not be given the permits to build unless the business has sufficient parking spaces.

We have all seen how this little obstacle didn't mean anything to the owners of the 7th and Park Cafe, close pals of bicycle enthusiast and city commissioner Rose "La Chisquiada" Gowen. Not only were they allowed to build and go into business, but they are using the Linear Park parking spaces as their personal business parking lot. (See graphic at right.)

Not content with that, they frequently park on the sidewalk on the north side of the business impeding foot traffic. Gowen also got them recognition as a bicycle friendly business and gave them free publicity by making them the headline attraction on movie ads shown at the local Cinemark Theater.

The promo video was set to run in Cinemark theaters for 4 weeks ($3,730), on COB.TV, and on social media during January and February 2017, advertising a February 17, 2017 workshop/event.

Interestingly, 7th and Park hosted political campaign events to push for Gowen's reelection last time around. Quid pro quo?

In fact, 7th and Park owner Graham Sevier was placed on the board of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) which provided the city with the funds for the bicycle-friendly businesses designation by (you guessed it) none other than Gowen.
Ditto for Origo Works, a local architectural firm belonging to Javier Huerta who has done work for Mayor Tony Martinez at his Spanky's Burgers and El Rincon de la Paz, located at the same address as his law office.

You remember Origo Works. They were included in a change-order packet sent to commissioners for their consideration and approval by CH2MHILL of Englewood, Co. that would increase their fees from $1,650,000 to $2,500,925, a $850,925 increase, for work on the new airport terminal.

The new additions to the passenger terminal area were added by the city and its local architect, Origo Works, increasing the original size from 65,000 square feet to 85,000 square feet.

Those changes, said James Kirshbaum, the engineer for CH2MHILL, were not in the original engineering specs provided to the company when it submitted its response to the city's Request for Proposals (RFP). As a result, he said, not only the cost of the engineering services, but the changes in the original design ballooned the original construction cost estimate of the terminal from $27.5 million to $38 million.

In the original letter, the Kirshbaum stated that the changes in engineering/design cost, a five-month delay, and the and overall construction cost were due to changes after the RFP were approved.

Image result for tony martinez, brownsville"The other item that has caused additional design and management effort is the coordination with our local architect, Origo Works," wrote Kirshbaum, the engineer for CH2MHILL.

"As requested by the mayor, we engaged Origo Works to help incorporate 'local' architectural features and elements into the original design. This effort extended the conceptual design phase of the project by approximately five months, resulting in significant additional efforts by CH2M, Corgan and Origo Works."

That entire paragraph was removed by the later insertion of the second letter in the record that  deleted any mention of the mayor or Origo Works. Both letters are dated Sept. 21 and signed by  Kirshbaum Sept, 6.

However, in the commissioners' agenda backup, CH2MHILL lists payments made, not to Origo Works, but to Jaime Huerta, its owner, of $25,000 under Current Terminal Contract, $15,000 under Revised Terminal Contract, and another $5 for Terminal 55 Contract for a total of $45,000.                                                                                                                                          Well, Tony is at it again. In the Feb. 6 meeting, there is an item dealing with the granting of a licensing agreement for Origo Works by the city. It reads: 15. Consideration and ACTION to execute a License Agreement between the City of Brownsville and Origo Works Properties, LLC. (Engineering).

Under the licensing agreement, the city agreed to let the company use a part of city property...which lies adjacent to or is anticipated to be part of a continuum of the foregoing‐described major commercial development...which permission it seeks to build and maintain concrete/asphalt parking and landscaped areas which would run along, aside or across City property."

In exchange, Origo Works will build a parking lot, fence, and to maintain it for the next five years with one-year options for renewals. 

There's only one snag in the plans, however. The city's hike-and bike trail lies smack within the proposed city-owned land to be used by Origo Works. 

Not to worry. Despite the questions of only one commissioner – At-Large A commissioner Cesar de Leon – the commission approved the agreement and will allow the company to move the hike and bike trail to accommodate the parking lot.

Nice to have friends in City Hall isn't it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


(Ed.'s Note: We were hoping to send you this clip of the Feb.20 meeting where the removal of the Jefferson Davis Monument  (The Stone in Washington Park) was discussed. The plans are now to remove it to the Brownsville Historical Museum with an explanation of its origins and how it came to be placed in the city. The presenters before the commission outlined how the Daughters of the Confederacy lobbied throughout the country for the confederacy "heritage" to be celebrated by local residents even though the pro-KKK books they promoted were filled with racist and inflammatory anti-minority (Blacks and Mexican) rhetoric.

However, after we got the Youtube clip available on the web, it was mysteriously removed from public access.
The presentation did take place and can be viewed in the video of the meeting.We have acquired the services of a tech to get the snippet of the meeting. The presentation can be seen on the link below.


By Juan Montoya

The first thing that some local residents thought when Oseil Cardenas Jr., son of Osiel Cardenas, the Gulf Cartel capo serving prison time for drug offenses, thought when the younger Cardenas was arrested with a badge from the Cameron County District Attorney Office was that it belonged to a Ass. DA found dead in Matamoros eight years ago.

The body of Assistant DA Arturo Jose Iniguez of Rancho Viejo, 26, was found March 20, 2011, in his Jeep, with the engine running, not far from the Veterans International Bridge in Matamoros. He was holding a cellphone in his right hand.

A bottle bearing the name of a drug that is used in the veterinary industry was found outside the vehicle. The lid was inside, according to reports.

Villalobos said he didn't know why Iñiguez was in Matamoros and that his family had no knowledge that he had planned to go there.

The death was ruled a suicide although a lot of things made no sense: He had been promoted recently in the DA's Office by then-DA Armando Villalobos to first chair misdemeanor attorney. He first had joined the district attorney’s office in 2007 as a law clerk, while attending law school. He had a two-year-old daughter, and he missed a diner date with his wife and mother that Saturday.

"That's the first thing I thought about," said a local bail bondsman.
"You should check to see if it was the Asst. DA found dead in Matamoros," said a local elected official.

DA Luis Saenz told the newspaper that the badge Cardenas had had been issued to local attorney Ismael Hinojosa.

Saenz said that Hinjosa was representing Cardenas in a petition to acquire a driver's license. He was scheduled to complete serving probation on was sentenced in 2015 to 10 months in federal prison for attempting to smuggle military-grade ammunition into Mexico in January of that year.

He was also to serve three years supervised release after serving the 10 months in federal prison.

According to courthouse sources, it has become a practice for some Asst. DA's to keep their badges when they leave office. In fact, that office has issued numerous "honorary" badges to local residents for their service to victims' rights or child protective activities. Saenz even issued one to former DA PIO Melissa Zamora after she started working for the City of Harlingen.

"There's a lot of badges out there," said the bondsman. "No telling how Cardenas got a hold of that one." 

Hinojosa has refused to answer media inquiries citing lawyer-client privilege.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


By Alexandria Rodriguez
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Adm. Paul F. Zukunft jumped at the chance to return to Corpus Christi.

Zukunft is Commandant of the Coast Guard, and was once stationed in Corpus Christi. He returned to the place where he met his wife for the dedication of Sector Corpus Christi's new building.

Valent Hall, a nearly 170,000-square-foot building, was dedicated to the late area Coast Guard Chief Boatswain's Mate Pablo Valent. It houses personnel and operations from Hangar 41 at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi and Tower II in downtown Corpus Christi.

The building's hangar also houses the Coast Guard's aircraft and vessels and can withstand up to a Category 3 hurricane, Zunkunft said.

"This building will be here probably at least half a century, if not longer," Zukunft said. "It provides a great aviation platform for us to operate. Not just in the Coastal Bend, but we range across the entire Gulf of Mexico from here as well."

Valent's great nephew, Adolfo Garza, a middle school principal at Incarnate Word Academy, attended the dedication and told the crowd of Coast Guard members, law enforcement officers and city and government officials about the legacy of Valent and his family.

Valent, a Corpus Christi native, was highly decorated in the Coast Guard in the early 1900s and spent most of his career at the Brazos Coast Guard Station. He became the first Hispanic-American to command a boat station in 1935. He was also recipient of the Coast Guard's Silver Lifesaving Medal for the rescue of an eight-man crew off Cape Horn, a schooner that capsized during a hurricane in 1919.
"Our family is blessed and honored with the naming of this building after my great uncle. We're also blessed he will have a cutter named after his honor which will be out in the sea pretty soon a couple years from now," Garza said. "(The building) is a reflection of the work that he did. ... He was a risk-taker, he was responsible and he served his country well."

To read rest of article, click on link:


By Juan Montoya
Twenty-seven years before the the 13 colonies issued their Declaration of Independence from England, a full 87 years before Texas broke away from Mexico, and 99 years before Brownsville was founded, Camargo Tamaulipas already existed.

This March, Camargo – and Reynosa downriver – are celebrating the 269th anniversary of their founding.
The first settlement to be founded on the Lower Rio Grande was that of Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana de Camargo.

Camargo is located almost directly across the river from Rio Grande City.
 It was founded on March 5, 1749, with the dedication to Señora Santa Ana by captain Don Blas Maria de la Garza de Falcon at the eastern edge of the San Juan River near its confluence with the Río Grande.

The foundation had 85 families – a total of 531 persons. Most of the settlers for this township came from Ceralvo, Cadereyta, Monterrey and surrounding townships
Following that, another settlement, Reynosa, 10 leagues downriver, was founded by Colonel Jose de Escandon. Reynosa was named after the Spanish town of Reinosa located in Cantabria (Spain).
The new settlement was dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Reynosa was planted on 14 March 1749, in an extensive fluvial plain. Most of the initial settlers were from the New Kingdom of León.

In 1846, when Zachary Taylor invaded Mexico, Camargo was occupied by the US Army.
This river port served as a jumping off point for the invasion on Monterrey and Saltillo. The Army was transported via steamboats from the mouth of the river area, and Matamoros. Disease plagued the troops and it is said that hundreds of U.S. soldiers were buried in Camargo, and between that city and Monterrey, in unmarked graves. The command was said to have made the fatal mistake of establishing camp below the confluence of both rivers, where raw sewage and waste from the city drained into the water they used to drink.

Since the Battle of Palo Alto just north of present-day Brownsville in May 1846 signaled the beginning of the Mexican American War, the town of Camargo has close historic ties with our city.

In fact, the founder of the first ranch in Cameron County came from there. Rancho Viejo was established by Salvador de La Garza in 1770 and the King of Spain gave him the royal grant in 1781.

His daughter, Doña Estefana Goseascochea de Cortina was born in Camargo in 1782 (the Rio Grande wasn't a border then) and died in 1867 on her El Carmen Ranch ( named after her daughter) at 85.

Carmen Avenue connected these two ranches. Santa Rita (now Villanueva, and the first seat of Cameron County) was also founded by Doña Estefana.

She had two sons, Sabas, and his half brother Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, who defied Texan authorities following the loss of Mexican territory north of the Rio Grande after 1848.
Sabas went on to become a county elected official and was one of the wealthiest land owners in the new entity.

Juan "Cheno" Cotina would battle Brownsville, Texas, and U.S. forces and was exiled to Mexico City where he died.


Special to El Rrun-Rrun
How was it that Osiel Cardenas Jr., 26, son of Gulf Cartel capo Osiel Cardenas, who is serving a 25-year sentence for a host of drug trafficking charges, acquire a Cameron County District Attorney’s badge and – and despite being a convicted felon – was in possession of a Bersa Pistol, model Thunder 380 with .380 caliber ammunition?

Son of former Gulf Cartel boss displayed Cameron County DA badgeThose are the questions being asked around the Cameron County courthouse today. Brownsville Police Dept. spokesmen told the Brownsville Herald that the weapon was made in Argentina and imported to New Jersey.

(The Herald's Mark Regan wrote an update on his story late Tuesda saying that Cameron County D.A. Luis V. Saenz said the badge belonged to former Assistant District Attorney Ismael Hinojosa, who is now a defense lawyer who represents Cardenas in a petition for an occupational driver’s license.

Hinojosa declined to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.)

The police did not say under whose name the gun was registered. Federal prosecutors filed a charge against Cardenas Jr. for being a convicted felon who received a firearm through interstate or foreign commerce. They did not say under whose name the gun was registered. 

At the time he was arrested,Cardenas Jr. was in probation scheduled to be completed this coming May.

The police report indicated that Cardenas Jr., who was arrested at approximately 2 a.m. on March 14 and charged by Brownsville police for unlawful carrying of a weapon, false report to a police officer and public intoxication.

At the time of his arrest, Cardenas Jr. reportedly displayed the Cameron County District Attorney’s badge inside the Sky Bar & Lounge while waving a pistol in the air, ordering patrons to leave the bar and threatening them with arrest, court proceedings and a criminal complaint indicate.

He is currently being held without bond.


By  Juan Montoya
For as long as many of us can remember, there has been talk of tunnels existing under the city in downtown Brownsville.

Stories have been written about this and the old timers are usually quoted describing the tunnel system they say that one time connected the the Immaculate Conception Cathedral with the old convent since torn down. Usually, it was just that, stories.
Most of them were discounted as tales made up by people who could not prove them. The water table is too high for tunnels, the naysayers would argue. You can't even have a basement. If you go three feet, you'll hit water, they said.                                                                                        But as the renovation of Market Square downtown began, some workers started to see full basements as they tore up the floor boards covering the original construction.
At the San Fernando Building which was constructed in 1877, the gaping hole left when workers removed the floor boards placed there by subsequent tenants showed that there is a basement on the corner building. Photos of the gap indicate that there is a walled basement under the floor. Are there basements under the rest of the buildings?

And just across the street, at the old tannery which is now occupied by George Ramirez's Half Moon Saloon, a large underground square people thought was the entrance to a tunnel was uncovered when renovations took place. But in that case, it was a cavity to cure cattle hides before shipping them to customers in the East.

But the talk of tunnels hasn't stopped. Just recently, a property owner near Market Square and his work crew came upon an opening under the building whose placement didn't make any sense.                                                                                                                                                "Not only does this building have a basement, it also has an opening that goes under the building and away from it for some 20 feet before it's walled off with brick," he said. "As a basement it makes no sense, and it leads away from the street."                                                                                                                                              The same land owner said that he had a friend in Matamoros whose father used to tell them about the old days when the priest of the Señora del Refugio Cathedral used to visit his father whose
home was on one side of Plaza Juarez. "He said the priest would come up the tunnel and have dinner with them some nights," he recalled. "If you stop to think about it, in those days there were still marauding Indians and bandits around. So, for security, the tunnels made sense.

Old timers say that a tunnel leading from the cathedral in Brownsville used to emerge on the river. Likewise, at Casa Mata, a walled off tunnel also leads to the Rio Grande on the Mexican side. Others even say that a tunnel existed under the river. That might be stretching it a bit, though.

There are fresh-water wells as differentiated from cisterns in many properties in the downtown are and the historical district in central-west Brownsville. Cisterns were used to collect water runoff while wells were dug for drinking and other household chores.

By now, if there were tunnels at one time, they have probably collapsed and walling them off makes sense. But just the possibility that someone might have built a connecting system under the city leads one to imagine whether the old-time residents of Brownsville constructed them for security and safety in those wild days of banditry and Indian raids.


By Juan Montoya

It was a Sunday afternoon when Andres met his friend Esteban watching the Saturday Madness competition at the Palm Lounge in downtown Brownsville.

Usually jovial and ready with a back slapping abrazo as a saludo, Esteban was abnormally subdued that day. Even the tight basketball game didn't seem to hold his attention, and he seemed distracted and only looked up when he heard a group of women laughing from a corner table near the entrance.

"What's the matter, Steve?," Andres probed. "You're kind  of quiet. Did you get in a fight with your girlfriend again?"

Esteban leaned over to Andres. He looked around to see if anyone was listening and began his tale.

"On Friday night me and Lupita decided to go to Pava's on 14th Street to close the night with a last beer," he began. "Well, she is kind of jealous and she began accusing me of having wandering eyes. I protested, but things got worse when a new waitress came over and was making small talk with us. I said I didn't know her, but it didn't help when she called me by my name from across the bar asking if we were ready for another. She got mad and stormed out of the bar and I was left on foot to hoof it home.

"Since it wasn't closing time and I had a good long way to walk, I decided to stick around until closing time and I sat with some friends until then. I could have called taxi, but I'm kind of a tightwad and I decided to walk instead. It would take me between half an hour to 45 minutes with shortcuts and I started off. I was angry that Lupita had left me on foot and thought nothing of it.

"I cut across the county courthouse on Harrison and then over to Seventh Street and hit the hike trail in front of the federal courthouse. From there it was a straight shoot across the expressway, and then on to Paredes along Buena Vista Cemetery. I had hear stories about scary stuff happening there, but I thought it was just shit people make up to scare you. There are stories about an old lady dressed in black asking for a ride to the Palo Alto Battleground to looking for her son, insisting on getting off there on the lonely stretch of road on the way to Los Fresnos, and then simply disappearing.

"Anyway, I crossed over the frontage and started up the sidewalk toward the HEB at the corner of Paredes and Boca Chica.

"I hadn't gone but a few steps along the side of the cemetery when I thought I heard someone laughing from inside the fence," Esteban told me at a lower voice. "I thought maybe some kids from the Villa Verde housing project were drinking because they sounded 20 or 30 feet way in the darkness. But it was getting close to 3 a.m. already and as closely as I could squint, I could see no or hear no one, except for the laughing.

"It wasn't the usual laugh of people drinking," he continued. "It was high cackling laughing as if there were a group of women walking together parallel to me in the fence in the darkness. As I walked along the outside of the fence, the laughing – a kind of taunting, mocking laughter –  seemed to follow me along the inside of the fence, sometimes erupting into shouts of laughter. The half-dozen or so voices seemed to hover above the ground and followed me as I walked toward Boca Chica. But I was so mad at Lupita for having made me walk I put it out of my mind. I think I called out once or twice asking who it was, but there was only another peal of laughter in response. It was strange."

Esteban then said that as he neared the end of the cemetery, the voices subdued and when he crossed into the HEB parking lot they ceased altogether.

"I never believed in ghosts or stuff like that," he said. "But I can't explain the laughing of the women who seemed to be floating parallel to me inside Buena Vista. Hasta el pedo se me quito. If I have to walk from now on, I'm staying on the trial and forget about walking beside the cemetery." 

Monday, March 19, 2018


(This post previously appeared in El Rrun-Rrun. We reprint it here in honor of St. Patrick's Day for our fellow citizens of Irish descent and other like-minded readers. We were reminded today that we had been remiss in commemorating St. Patrick's Day. Our regards.)

By Juan Montoya
The readers of this blog know by now that we have a soft spot for the Irish, that mad and joyful race from the Emerald Isle.

But even though there are commonalities of religion and cultural persecution, we generally know only a superficial history of that suffered people. Everyone knows about the Potato Famine and the persecution by their English masters. Ireland, as was Scotland, was, in effect, a colony of white second-class citizens under the British.

And history buffs along the US-Mexico border know of the San Patricio Battalion that fought on the Mexican side during the Mexican-American War. There is even a monument to those soldiers (some who were hanged upon the fall of the Castle of Chapultepec) in the Mexican capital commemorating their valor on the battlefield. Those not hanged by Gen. Winfield Scott were branded with a "T" on their cheek to indicate they were considered traitors by the invading U.S. forces.

Yet, it isn't until you study this historical situation closer that you realize the true extent of that subjugation and its incredible human toll that both the famine and British imperialism took on these people.

I recently stumbled across a book written by Thomas Keneally, the same writer who wrote Schindler's List. The book is called The Great Shame and the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World.
Written by a master novelist, it depicts 19th Century Ireland and the privations and subjugation imposed upon Catholic Irish in their native land. Keneally's own ancestors (one Hugh Larkin) was "transported" to Australia for his role in protesting the land tenancy practices of Irish landlords that starved their 
tenants and drove them to the brink of famine and death, and rebellion.

As a result of these pressures on the Irish, in the 19th Century Ireland lost half of its population to famine, emigration to the United States and Canada, and the forced deportation of convicts to Australia.

Keneally documents the full story of the Irish diaspora through the eyes of political prisoners, many like his ancestor who left Ireland in chains and eventually found glory, in one form or another, in Australia and America.
Keneally traces the Irish struggle for liberation through the Emancipation when Irish natives were ostensibly granted the right to vote and hold office. Those rights had been taken from them since the defeat of deposed King Edward James II and his Catholic Irish allies at the battle of Boyne River in 1690.

The victors were the Protestant army of James's son-in-law King William of Orange, who had been handed the British throne by Parliament in 1688. After the battle, a series of penal laws were passed to prevent further Catholic uprising aimed at keeping the native Irish powerless, poor and stupid.
Some of those laws were not repealed until the Emancipation in 1829.

Keneally writes that "Under the Penal Code the Catholic Irish were barred from serving as officers in the army or navy, or from practicing as lawyers – a profession for which they would later prove to have an appetite. They could hold no civic post or office at all under the Crown.
At the death of a Catholic landowner his land was to be divided among all his sons unless the eldest became a Protestant, in which case he would inherit the whole.

A Catholic could not own a horse worth more than 3 (British) pounds, was prohibited from living within five miles of an incorporated town and from attending or keeping schools. Edmund Burke called these laws "a machine as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of the people, and the debasement of human nature itself as ever proceeded from the perverted imagination of man."

Reading and writing, if any, was acquired by the peasantry by so-called hedge-schools that were carried out in the shade of tall windbreaks in the countryside. Mass was held on Mass stones instead of altars by finding a suitable flat rocks atop of which were placed the sacraments and other objects of Catholic worship.
The landlord was upheld by law, was validated in the seizing of the livestock and furniture against "hanging gale" – a lateness in paying the heavy twice-yearly rent – and was supported if he evicted tenants.

In that era, the droit de seigneur – the right of the landlord to deflower the peasant bride before she was handed back to her husband – existed on many large estates. There was also the common requirement before marriage that permission be sought, cap-in-hand, at the big house. Although the Irish natives were forced by law to bear these indignities, they did enjoy some advantage over other European peasants of the day in that they did not face hunger as did many others on the continent.
This was the result of the introduction of the New World tuber into their diets.
The lowly potato, a native plant of Peru, not only provided the 3,800 calories per day, but also an extraordinary armoury of vitamins, twice the recommended daily intake of protein, calcium and iron, and a low fat content.

Potatoes were the only cheap crop which could support life when fed to a peasant as the sole item of a diet. They were also suited to the conditions of land tenure, under which the peasants could not afford to build barns or sheds in which to store the food.
This staple of the Irish diet also helped stave off the common scourges of hunger found elsewhere around the world – scurvy, pellagra and malnutrition blindness.
In face of this meager existence and the propensity of landlords to hike their tenants' rents on a whim, the Irish formed secret societies to help themselves.

Variously called WhiteboysRockites, and Ribbon societies, they came into existence to threaten both the landlords and the bailiff who evicted, as well as any tenant rash enough to take up an evictee's house and land.
The resulting laws against these types of uprising and membership in these societies included death, imprisonment and "transportation" to the penal colonies in South Africa and, most often preferred, Australia.
LarkinKeneally's ancestor, was arrested and convicted of threatening his landlord with a group of Whiteboys protesting the eviction of a fellow peasant. He was sentenced to "transportation" for 12 years.
The beginning of the end came in September 1845.
As the Irish chafed under the British yoke, the air over Ireland as filling with the spores of a mold which would work a ferocious change. The first rumors had come from the fields of Britain and Belgium of a blight that turned the potato flower and stalk black and which cause the potato itself to putrefy.
By October, the potato crop everywhere in Ireland was rotting. When the Irish peasants went out to the garden, Keneally writes, "for potatoes for a meal. They stuck the spade in the pit, and the spade was swallowed. The potatoes turned mud inside. They shrieked and shrieked. The whole town came out."

Dubbed the "vampire" fungus, it would later be identified as Phytopthoma infestans, treatable by spraying with copper compounds, and reduced to an agricultural nuisance. But for the Irish then, it was a momentous force, a strange visitation.
As hunger stalked the land, Irish legislators pleaded with the Crown for the suspension of the export of Irish grain and provisions and a prohibition on distilling and brewing from grain. They also asked for the suspension of the so-called Corn Laws to open Irish ports to free import of rice and Indian corn from other British colonies.

Irish ports were not open and subject to the special provision of the laws designed to peg the price of the grain at the highest possible level and to keep out other, cheaper grain until the entire British crop had been sold at artificially pegged prices. There are reports of starving children lining the banks of the canals as boats loaded with food and grains sailed out for exportation from Ireland, their lips stained green from eating grass.

And so, though a combination of hunger, official recalcitrance to open markets, and imperial edicts, began the period in Ireland called an Gorta Mor – the Great Hunger, or simply, an droch-Shaol – the

Bad Life, the Bad Times.
By February 1846, in Lismay, a survey of the destitute populations in five townslands found that 211 persons were "absolutely starving," and correctly seen as the apex of a great pyramid of hunger where the victims were reduced in some cases to the skeletal conditions where the body feeds necrotically on its own substance.
Hand in hand with the extreme hunger came its companion, the Black Fever, typhus. Marching side by side with hunger, typhus darkened the swollen faces of the victims, and finished them. People collapsed from it in the fields, and in ditches along the road.

Lice infected with Rickettsia communicated the disease from sufferer to sufferer. The mere squashing of an infected louse on the skin permitted the invasion by the minute bacteria. The excrement of the louse contained Rickettsia also.

The extension of a helping hand to the ragged elbow of a sufferer's coat could release the invisible and fatal powder of dung. Hence, clergy, nuns and doctors who tended fevered patients, handled their tattered clothing, comforted them with a hand to wrist, shoulder or forehead, readily became victims.
Many witnesses mentioned the mousy stench of the disease, how it drove one backwards when the door of an infected house was opened. Simultaneously, a deadly relapsing fever emerged. It was sometimes called Yellow Fever, fiabrhas buidhe, because it produced a jaundiced appearance.
Relapsing fever was also transmitted by lice, but the bacterium was carried on the body and limbs of the louse, not the stomach. The fever raged for four or five days, but then passed. But perhaps after a week it hit again. There could be as many as four or five relapses, any of them fatal.

Their generic name was Famine Fever.
Along with the ravages of hunger and pestilence came the hardening attitude of the colonial government to famine-fed unrest.
Evictions became violent.
The poor lived along the roadsides and under trees. In one account, a bystander witnessed the evictions of more than 60 tenants – nearly 300 people – by the 49th Infantry at the request of one Mrs. Gerrard, for unpaid rent.

"It was the most appalling he had ever witnessed – women, young and old, running wildly to and fro with small portions of property."
That night the ejected families slept in the ruins of their houses; their neighbors were warned on pain of eviction against taking them in. Like the evicted throughout the country, they now had to live in scalps, burrows roofed over with boughs and turf, or in scalpeens, holes dug in the ruins of a "tumbled" house.

"There is a horrible silence;" reads a narrative of the day, "grass grows before the doors; we fear to look into nay door...for we fear to see yellow chapless skeletons grinning there; but our footfalls rouse two lean dogs that run from us with fearful howling, and we know by the felon-gleam in the wolfish eyes how they have lived after their masters died. We stop before the thresholds of our host of two years before, put our head, and say with shaking voice, 'God save all here!' – No answer. Ghastly silence and a mouldy stench, as from the mouth of burial vaults! They are dead!
"The strong man and the fair dark-eyed woman and the little ones, with their Gaelic accents that melted into the music two years ago; they shrank and withered together until their voices dwindled to a rueful gibbering, and they hardly knew one another's faces, but their horrid eyes scowled at each other with a cannibal glare."

By March 1847, nearly 3,000 were dying each week in Ireland's workhouses.
People huddled together by any turf fire, and lice and typhus traveled from one another. By day, the roads were full of desperate travelers who conveyed the infected lice from place to place.
Once or twice a a day – in a form of quarantine and not desertion – "relatives of sufferers would feed the ailing ones inside by tying a can of water and a bit of hot gruel to the end of a long pole. When there were no more tugs on the pole, the house would be pulled down on top of the corpse and burned, an unprecedented method of disposing of a body."

The result of these incredibly cruel and tragic conditions in Ireland drove the great migration to the Americas.
The British government never acquiesced to attend to the plight of the starving masses, preferring instead to protect its markets and impose its imperial will upon the Irish.
Out of that migration of the hungry "masses yearning to be free" and from other peoples throughout the globe the United States has emerged as the best "poor man's country in the world."

What would have happened to the Irish people if the doors to America had been closed to them then? We would all have been much the poorer for it because the Irish, despite their tragedy and their own prejudices toward their fellow Americans like Afro-Americans, women, and Latinos, have contributed an invaluable addition to the tapestry and culture of this great nation.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the Emerald Isle!

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Special to El Rrun-Rrun

District 37 State Representative Rene Oliveira tried to take a stroll downtown.
Through the haze of the shots he had throughout the day sweating the runoff with Cameron County Pct. 2 Commissioner Alex Dominguez, his memories regarding Brownsville's historic heart and soul faltered and he grabbed at the corner of the San Fernando Building going back several generations to steady himself.

The many spirits he had consumed made him imagine he saw a ghost  at every corner.

"My grandfather was a longtime city cop and walking downtown was a part of his beat," said Oliveira as he passed in front of the bus terminal and admired the building's architecture as he observed the empty high-rise parking lot across the street. "Damn, for a moment I thought the guy in the security outfit from the segunda sleeping on the bench was him.

"He used to run out the local Mexican shoe shine boys from the watering holes like the pilot Bar and the Sportsman Lounge so the gringos could drink in peace. In those days, the Snowbirds used to make Brownsville los mecos for the entire Rio Grande Valley and Northern Mexico.

"My grandfather spoke fondly about the trust that existed among the citizenry in those days. You hear about residents who didn't lock their homes, but merchants were so confident about the safety of their establishments that they oftentimes forgot to lock the doors to their entrances. Nowadays you can't even invite your neighbor to visit you from next door because he might steal your wife."

Hardly understandable through his slurred speech, Oliveira insisted that downtown's time is now. After 34 years of jaunting between Austin's Sixth Street and the French Quarter in New Orleans, he fancies that they have nothing over Brownsville.

"We don't have the same traffic problems in Brownsville," he says. "In fact, there is almost no traffic in downtown Brownsville at all. But living in a thriving downtown would certainly be an attraction to both young professionals and retirees. I would love to see the El Jardin refurbished into a condo with a restaurant and businesses on the first floor."

His drinking buddy didn't have the heart to tell him that the city commission had already approved plans for a developer to refurbish El Jardin exactly along the lines of his inebriated imagination.

As a hometown product, Oliveira doesn't profess to have the knowledge of the experts at the Brownsville Historical Association, but he recited the contents of Bean Ayala's Visitors and Convention Bureau brochure he had seen somewhere. In fact, Bean might have paid his cousin Ronnie $140,000 to put it together to "ignite" tourism.

Regardless, Rene was already lit.

"The first two battles of the Mexican-American War and the last battle of the Civil War were fought in the Brownsville area," said Oliveira. "Before Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico, Juan Cortina and his followers took over Brownsville. With our wonderful weather and picturesque scenery, visitors would come in droves to experience Brownsville historically firsthand through our restored buildings. The birders are always amazed when they observe parrots living in palm trees on Washington Street. If they had the hangovers I have, they'd agree with Othal Brand and allow kids with 22s to shut them up. Gad, what a racket!"

"The momentum is here. I stopped for an early one at El Hueso de Fraile on the recommendation of my good friend State Senator Eddie Lucio. Now that guy can sell an Eskimo a fridge, bro!, for  a slight commission, of course.

"Brownsville is moving forward, not tottering, like I am. The movement downtown captures that spirit. And speaking of spirits, Jerry, let me buy you a couple of rounds over at Rioja's to keep you happy and keep writing good stuff about me."


BROWNSVILLE, Texas (March 15, 2018) – City employee Antonio M. Zamorano was escorted from City Plaza, located at 1034 E. Levee St., on March 15, 2018, by officers from the Brownsville Police Department following his arrest on one charge of bribery.

Antonio M. Zamorano joined the City of Brownsville in January 2016 as a Building & Construction Inspector. Antonio M. Zamorano has been terminated effective immediately.

“The City of Brownsville will not tolerate any actions that disrupt our mission to uphold the highest standards of integrity and ethics in the preservation of public service and trust,” said Interim City Manager Michael Lopez. 

“The City of Brownsville will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials in the pursuit of justice. We will provide further commentary as details become available and when appropriate.”

The City of Brownsville encourages residents to report any illegal activity to Brownsville Crime Stoppers by calling (956)546-TIPS(8477) or (956)546-HELP(4357). Reports may also be submitted online at All reports may be submitted anonymously.

Other reports say that Traffic Dept. Director Robert Esparza had also been on the chopping block, but those reports could not be independently confirmed today. We will try to get an update Friday.


Special to El Rrun-Rrun
For 11 years, the family of Tejano star Joe Lopez – expected to walk out of a Huntsville prison today after more than 11 years behind bars – have waited for him to come home.

And, said his brother Raul, a local bail bondsman, none more so than Lopez's 93-year-old mother who has waited all those years to see her son again.

"She's 93 and she has waited all this time to see Joe again." Lopez said. "It doesn't matter what other people think of him, it's her son."

In 2006, a Cameron County jury gave Lopez 32 years in prison for sexually assaulting his niece, Krystal Lopez, in 2004, when she was 13.

The family has said Lopez was convicted based on DNA and other evidence fabricated by then-Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos, himself serving a seven-year sentence for bribery and corruption. They say the singer will eventually be exonerated.

He was sentenced to 20 years for one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, eight years for a second count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and four years for indecency with a child, to run concurrently. As a result, he had to serve the longest 20 year sentence in prison.

Lopez will walk out of prison between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Raul Lopez said one of his brothers will be there to meet him an bring him home to Brownsville.

The singer – now 67 – was granted parole Jan. 26, but only after he served a  nine-month sex offender treatment program. Upon his release, he will undergo “supervised parole” through Oct. 31, 2026. The parole board has ordered him not to contact Krystal Lopez nor enter Harris County, where she lives, without prior approval.

Relatives say that that while incarcerated Lopez has written hundreds of songs and that he intends to beak back slowly into his former career.

"For now we're just thanking the Lord for his release and want him to come home," said Raul Lopez. "Our mom has been waiting for a long time and we're happy that she will see him again."


 (Ed.'s Note: If you haven't gone to South Padre Island this week, you are missing out on Texas Week with all its accompanying color and squalor. Virtually every room on the island is taken and the clubs are filled to capacity. We had friends who were there Wednesday and who were gracious enough to send us these pics of the action out there.

They report that there was excess, debauchery, and all that occurs when you pile in thousands of teenagers on a spit of sand and add in a large dose of alcohol and pot and spice it up with live music. The SPI cops and security at the clubs had their hands full with drunken revelers from places north of the RGV plus a smattering of locals who want to see how school kid behave when they're away from Mom and Dad. So far, no one has died this year falling off a hotel balcony or getting run over. Let's cross our fingers it stays that way.

As someone said, like going to college, you've got to do it at least once. Next week it will be kids from the Midwest schools who will take a turn at letting all hang out. If you don't mind spending a few hours battling traffic, Port Isabel cops and maybe JP 1 Benny Ochoa if you're hauled in, take a spin out to the Island to witness the annual event. After all, Spring Break is the annual money maker for that court. We thank our readers for the photos.) 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Image result for students protest guns in the united states

Crazed gunmen and Don Trump waffling
Young people have found their voice
This summer we hear their chanting
We want action not more noise

Gotta get down to it
Armed crazies are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew them
And saw them killed in classrooms
How can you run when you know?

Gotta get down to it
Armed fools are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew them
And saw them dead in their rooms
How can you run when you know?

NRA cash has Congress waffling
Young people have found their voice
This summer we hear their chanting
We want action not your noise


By Juan Montoya
It was about half-past 2 on a hot summer afternoon when the two friends drove up to the gas pumps at the 7-11 at the corner of 13th and Roosevelt to fill up.

Andres was driving his father's Ford F-150 pickup and they had just dropped off two other workers who lived in the small rooms behind Javier Ruiz's 1,2,3 Lounge. The two other men had been helping Andres and Ramon, his passenger, to clear some land of cedar which covered the better part of a 20-acre field.

The land belonged to a local rancher from an old family who had been receiving payments under the set-aside program of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture for a few years. Now the federal government was threatening to stop the subsidies because the cedar trees – actually large bushes with thick trunks – were overrunning the field and it was impossible to the rancher to claim he was setting aside the land from crops and receive the payments.

So he had contacted Ramon – who also belonged to an old Brownsville family – to see if he could find a crew to remove the cedar. He had contacted Andres and they set about to hire two others to help them with what they thought would be an easy job.

It wasn't.

The cedar had a double root and had been allowed to grow into small trees. At first they thought they could simply pull them out, but only a few came out and the rest didn't budge. So they had to invest in two gasoline chainsaws to cut them at ground level. That didn't work so well because the sandy dirt would get into the chainsaw mechanism and clog it. Then the sand, acting as an abrasive, dulled the chain on the saw and they found that having them sharpened did not work very well. The fact that the heat climbed to near 100 degrees didn't help either.

It was after a long morning of dealing with all these problems that the two friends pulled up to the 7-11 to fuel up and Andres told Ramon to keep the truck running because he had just changed the original motor for a 351 Windsor off a 1980 Lincoln Versailles he owned. He had gotten rid of that car because some of his friends had hauled two onion-bags filled with iced shrimp in the trunk that had melted and the ensuing stink and flies drawn by it had been impossible to eradicate. The toxic smell literally gave Andres a headache.

The change in motor had a few glitches and sometimes after he turned it off, it was difficult to start. That and the fact that some of the gauges didn't work made Andres gas it up periodically because he couldn't tell how much gas was in the tank and he didn't want to get stranded somewhere out in the rural areas.

"Dejala prendida, bro, no la vayas a apagar, (Keep it running. Don't turn it off.)," Andre said as he alighted.
"Ta gueno," Ramon nodded.

Andres got off and went int the store. There was a line in front of the single cash register and Andres waited while the cashier charged the people in front. There was a woman with several slips for Pick-3 lottery drawings that the machine had trouble registering.

Then, as he waited impatiently for his turn, Ramon came running into the store and told him: "Ta prendida la troca, bro."
"I know, I told you to keep it running, que no la fueras a apagar" Andres replied.
"No, no, esta prendida, bro!"
"I know...," Andres was saying  when Ramon blurted out: "It's on fire, man. The truck's on fire."

Both friends ran out and saw smoke coming out from the hood of the truck.
Andres pulled up on the hood and saw a small flame near the carburetor. He had no water to throw on it, but a passing motorists stopped when he saw the fire and, by good fortune, had a small fire extinguisher with which he doused the fire.

"Te dije que estaba prendida," Ramon told Andres.


By Juan Montoya
Those who have driven to South Padre Island recently can't help but notice the massive construction through the wetlands of the Brownsville Navigation District as the 48-inch pipeline snakes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

This unprecedented use of public lands for this potentially environmentally dangerous project has been decried in many forums. These protests, in conjunction with the outcry against the construction of the LNG plants in the Port of Brownsville has set off a heated dispute between those who welcome the plants as a way to promote manufacturing and jobs and those who point to the potential for pollution and damage to the wetlands and hypersaline lagunas that serve as nurseries and refuge for many gamefish, endangered wildlife and shellfish like shrimp and other species.

That, in turn, has created a political chasm between those who see the protests as a movement by retirees and residents living in communities along the coastline (Laguna Vista, SPI, etc.) in conflict with people in the county who see the plants as a potential for employment and economic development.

And politicians are scurrying to define their stands on the issue, much as did others on the west side of Brownsville for the West Rail Road/Trail. Sides have been drawn, and many political figures have been identified with either side. And just as there have been recriminations at the voting booth, so it has been when it comes to the LNGs.

The first line of demarcation was when the Brownsville Navigation District commissioners approved the leasing of huge tracts of land for at least five LNG companies who plunked down their money to rent the land for their future plants. Their justification was that if the companies dotted all their "I"s and crossed all their "T"s with the proper environmental state and federal agencies, there was little legal justification they could use to keep them out.

Once the approval had been given, their contractual obligations to rent them the properties could not be withdrawn on pain of costly litigation that could potentially cost the port (and taxpayers) millions. In other words, the horse was out of the barn and could not be put back. That consideration is offset by environmental and other single-issue groups who will not back off from their opinion that anyone who as much as considers approving them plants or other economic incentives and tax abatements for the plants doesn't belong in public office.

Take the county commissioners' approval of $373,100,000. in tax abatements for Rio Grande LNG last October. The actual investment is actually $15.7 billion dollars that will essentially almost double the county’s current tax base. The four county commissioners who voted for the agreement between the company and the port, the state , and the county cited economic development, infrastructure improvements, and an estimated 5,000 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs created if the export terminal gets built at the Port of Brownsville.

Under the terms of the agreement, county officials say they have been guaranteed a minimum of 35 percent of construction and permanent jobs for local residents. If this does not happen, the company will be penalized with payments for missing the target on this benchmark. The company had first offered 20 percent of the those jobs to local residents, but relented and increased the percentage to 35 to acquire the commissioners' votes.

The commissioners who voted to approve the deal were Sofia Benavides, Alex Dominguez, Davbid Garza and Gus Ruiz. County Judge Eddie Treviño voted not to approve it.

Now, the judge knew that the four votes would be there in support of the agreement so his "no" vote would not matter. And the political benefit from denying the vote in the upcoming elections in November would potentially help him in the race against Republican county judge candidate Carlos Cascos.

Will it translate into the deciding edge Treviño needs to go win?
He has plenty of money, according to his campaign reports. But just as the West Trail advocates have found out, the deal between the city and the county for the abandoned railroad right-of-way also includes plans for a road, something that candidates who went before them – including Treviño – assured them they would not support. Once the realpolitik set in, however, all deals were off. It takes money to run for office and few candidates turn down money for their races.

If we are to deal with this issue with our eyes wide open, then we should also question why the judge accepts campaign contributions from the law firm representing one of the LNGs. According to  reports, attorney Keith Uhles, of Royston Rayzor Vickery, lobbied his firm to give him at least $2,500 in 2017.

Does receiving money from a company doing business with the LNGs make Treviño suspect in the eyes of the anti-LNG groups? Or is there a buffer because it didn't come from the companies themselves? These questions have to be addressed before people demonize candidates in the upcoming elections. To be against one and justify the other would be intellectually dishonest.


By Jose Sandoval
Special to El Rrun-Rrun

Orgullosamente Mexicanx*
Orgullosamente mexicanx
Cuando te conviene mas,
Cuando tocan los mariachis
Y la bironga fría esta.

Cuando linda señoritas
Con sus trajes de color
Bailan por las avenidas
En brillante formación.

Pero cuando truena y llueve
La injustica y el dolor
De repente ser mexicanx
Algo pierdede  de sabor.

¡Auxilio! Se oyen gritar
A madres de hijas quien
Solo en la  memoria existen
Y la Ley trató con desden

¡Auxilio! Grita el migrante
Que, en busca de vida mejor,
Entro al desierto como tantos 
Y un sepulcro encontró.

¡Auxilio! Grita la viuda
Que solita se quedo
Cuando en camino a Califas
Una tumba, a su marido, se tragó 

¡Eres orgullosamente mexicanx!
Cuando te conviene mas
Y al terminarse tu fiesta
A otra gente volveras.

Bajo tu ancho sombrero, tu dolor esconderás,
Y entre tequila y zarapes,
Nadie te conocera
Entonces si, 
El orgullo de tus gentes con tu voz proclamaras.

*Mexicanx- mexicano/mexicana

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


(Ed.'s Note: We are constantly amazed at the rendition of Mexican compositions by people from other parts of the world. Some of them are quite good. We remember going out to the Narciso Martinez Cultural Center in San Bene where we listened to a Japanese group (Los Gatos Negros?) sing songs written and played by Tony de la Rosa. Although their enunciation was slightly different than the original, it was amazing how close they came to the conjunto sound.

And we are told that a Japanese female (Shirley Kwan?) artist also does a crack-up job with Cucurrucucu Paloma by composer Tomas Mendez.

A friend of ours turned us on the Viktorija Novosel from Croatia and her rendition of the Mexican classic Paloma Negra, also composed by Mendez during a singing contest. Numerous Mexican and Mexican-American singers have interpreted this song, most notably Lola Beltran. Give it a listen. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised.)


(In our previous lifetime we used to work with a county road and bridge supervisor named Joe Cuellar (El Borrado) who lived for a time in northwest Washington state and got to know the Native American culture from meeting the people there. La raza called him "el Borrado" because Joe had greeniss-blueish eyes, a not too common trait among local mexes. For a long time Joe has been after us to publish a cartoon ridiculing the current crop of anti-immigration Know Nothings. Well, today's the day Joe. Here you go!)