Category Archives: Accion

Beto O’Rourke Speaks Out on Border Situation

Photo: Congressman Cuellar

News that Republicans (and some Democrats) are having a freak-out over children escaping poverty and violence in Central America and heading to the US isn’t anything new. Hillary Clinton and other Dems had a freak-out during 2014’s unaccompanied minor influx, while posturing for elected positions, even going so far as calling for more immigration courts to speed up deportations.

That said, one possible candidate for Texas Governor, Beto O’Rourke, has been chiming in on the issue responding to current guv Greg Abbott’s bigoted tirades blaming unaccompanied children for increases in COVID-19 and whatever other things may develop from his anti-masking policies and Texas’ re-opening.

The false premise that immigrants would make the pandemic worse was used by Trump (and now Biden) to immediately expel asylum seekers at the border.

This caused a spike in attempts, as the same people tried multiple times to cross (e.g. one person could count for 10+ encounters).

Apples to apples, the number of unique individuals attempting to come to this country is similar to what we saw during this same period in 2019 (for my Republican friends & media who are absolutely losing their shit right now, this is when Donald Trump was in the White House).

What could we do to make it better?

Stop using Title 42– Lawfully process asylum requests.

– Free families & children from immigration detention

– Add independent immigration judges

– Re-write our immigration laws

– Prioritize the Americas in our foreign policy.

Beto on Facebook

Beto hit on the last one on the list last week in another comprehensive post and it is something that I’ve been writing about for decades. The US needs a whole different policy in Latin America. One that does not buttress corrupt and violent right-wing regimes (and does not assist them with coups and election interference) which mistreat and kill the poor and indigenous who continually elect left-wing (read: socialist) administrations.

Fact: Without “leftist” poor, black, brown, and indigenous people, Biden would not be in office. So, what’s the deal?

Anyway, as Beto stated:

This region that we are connected to physically, culturally & through our families is always an afterthought at best in our foreign policy, a priority only when there is perceived crisis.

We will not address the underlying issues that cause so many to come here if we do not work with the people, NGOs & governments of these countries. That should include working to repair the damage caused in part by U.S. policies and a commitment to change those policies. Our involvement in Central America’s civil wars led to death & devastation that is still felt in the region today.

And U.S. drug demand & drug war have helped hollow out civil society in these countries, contributing to government corruption & horrific gang violence.

Our failure to act in the face of the science and consequences of climate change has produced devastating storms and droughts that make it a challenge for many to feed themselves and survive in communities throughout Central America.

Beto on Facebook 3/17/2021

These kind of ideas coming from Beto aren’t new, but they have consistently caused think-tank types in the area of Latin American policy to clench up their hind sides and to embolden current policy. It is a discussion that needs to be demanded of the Biden administration and right now is the best time to do it.

Meanwhile, the shocked reactions to the current edition of huddled masses needs to stop and the work needs to begin.

Also, Beto O’Rourke seems to be the only Texas Democrat giving a damn about which direction we should be going on this issue.

The Witch Hunt of Dr. Gokal Must End

While local authorities reward bad street racing behavior by giving them a place to “practice,” the local DAs office continues their witch hunt of Dr. Hasan Gokal, a doctor employed by Harris County who was accused of stealing one vial of COVID-19 vaccine, while doing everything possible to avoid it being wasted.

While the state’s top authority for doctors has found no evidence of wrongdoing, the DA is still going to present a case to a grand jury despite a judge dropping the charges for lack of evidence.

The March 9th letter stated Gokal “appeared to have administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients that were properly consented, in the eligible patient category, and they were given doses that would have otherwise been wasted.”

KHOU 3/16/2021

Further, Dr. Gokal did the proper reporting of the administration of the vaccine and he didn’t gain any benefit from it. It wasn’t some vast vax steal conspiracy to make money. We already have local hospitals and clinics charging people for what is supposed to be a free vaccine and they aren’t being investigated by the DA.

Why does the DA continue this fruitless cause?

Of course, we’re talking about the same DA who dropped all charges against deputy Shauna Thompson for murdering John Hernandez at a Denny’s in East Harris County a few years ago with the excuse that, despite video evidence that Hernandez was suffocated by Thompson and her husband, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her. It would seem this Doc’s case lacks any evidence, other than we have a doctor–a public servant–doing his job of making sure the vaccine was not wasted.

Earlier this year, our County Judge reported on wasted vaccine and has even made other groups (teachers) a priority to ensure that vials of vaccine do not go to waste. So, not wasting vaccine is a good thing and trending, apparently.

It was also reported that one box of vaccine was wasted when it fell off a table at a vax location. So, yes, mistakes happen at vax locations, but Gokal’s case was all about not wasting vaccine and making sure it went to the right people.

This case lacks any semblance of criminality and it needs to end to save this good Doc’s career and livelihood. Let’s not waste a needed doctor by trying to score some cheap points for a junior prosecutor’s win-loss record.

Durbin Doubts Biden Immigration Plan Can Pass

I was surprised to see an article in which the US Senate’s top immigration reform pusher, Senator Dick Durbin, has deemed President Biden’s immigration reform bill as unlikely to be passed. Durbin does suggest that a peacemeal approach be taken, and various bills regarding undocumented farm worker citizenship and the usual DREAM Act have been discussed.

“I think Speaker Pelosi has discovered she doesn’t have the support for a comprehensive bill in the House,” Durbin said. “And I think that indicates where it is in the Senate as well.”

Biden has proposed a plan that would provide a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million people living illegally in the U.S., would bolster assistance to Central American countries and would ease immigration for people fleeing violence. Republicans declared the proposal, which did not include any added resources to secure the border, dead on arrival.

Bloomberg, 3/15/2021

Blaming the current surge on the border by children fleeing violence and poverty for not supporting immigration reform is the weakest excuse I have ever heard; however, the Republicans are doing a job of blaming Democrats for something that isn’t a new thing. And Democrats are doing their usual best to avoid a debate–the fight that is needed to educate the public. In this case, blaming children (victims) is pretty sick.

Congressional Republicans and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have seized the moment to place blame on “the other” while the Biden administration and a Democratic Senate and House have been left with the job of addressing COVID-19 and all the crises that go with that, the day to day governance of the nation, and the issues brought on by crappy US policies on Latin America.

After the wreckage that was left at Homeland Security by Trump, which includes the uncontrolled bad behavior of the Border Patrol and their union, a purposely broken asylum system, and an inhumane immigration and detention system, the Biden administration has been left with quite a job that must be done as crises continue. And without Republican cooperation.

Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has stated that much is being done with “great speed” to address the issues that were worsened by Trump. However, these issues have been around for a long time and have been worsened by both sides of the aisle for decades. Unless root causes of migration (right-wing regime corruption, poverty and violence) are addressed, there is not much that can be done that will not include some semblance of inhumanity on our side of Trump’s border wall, be it kiddie jails in the middle of nowhere or the treatment of migrants at the border and elsewhere, or continued buttressing of right-wing zealots in Central and South America.

The Biden administration is attempting some more humane ideas, including ending the Trump administration detention trap of family members who would pick up (or claim) an unaccompanied minor. They have also called in FEMA to address the processing of the unaccompanied minors, which I hope means professional administrators and paper pushers and not your usual two-finger, law enforcement-type typists. Whatever gets these kids out of the freezer-like environment of immigration warehouses faster and efficiently.

As I’ve always said about immigration reform, it’s all about the fight. Republicans thrive on hate and there are a few Democrats who do so, as well. Democrats must go it alone, and that means putting the screws to “moderates” who will render a majority useless if left unchecked.

Don’t Be A Maskhole!

While the Official State Bigot (Greg Abbott) is whining and blaming “the other” down in South Texas, his followers today begin to shirk their responsibilities and exercise their right to kill others as the Texas mask mandate no longer exists and Texas businesses have permission to open back up to 100% capacity in the middle of a pandemic that very much continues.

Regarding Abbott’s whining at the border, I remind all that people migrate from Central America because of the poverty and violence in their home countries. It doesn’t help that US policy in Latin America is a joke–no matter what party is in charge. Biden has proposed some ideas, but any assistance for those countries likely will come with rules–like whom they should elect as their leaders, instead of whom the poor and indigenous elect. And that’s a whole other debate. The US has only worsened the root causes of migration, whether in the form of political, military, or commercial intervention, and usually all forms at once. Abbott supports those policies, he just whines about how Biden deals with the effects of those policies because he longs to be the next Trump. The effects have always been the same, no matter who is in power, because the root causes remain in effect.

Meanwhile, we still have COVID-19 to address and Greg Abbott has been a complete failure in this regard. Thanks to the Biden administration, the vaccines are slowly increasing, as is access to them. The Democrats will finally pass a COVID-19 relief package that will bring the US closer to a safer re-opening (for most), if not normality. And this is Biden’s fault–I’ll give him that much credit. But I also see it as just simply doing the job that is demanded by the people.

Abbott’s and his followers tactics are all for the purposes of delaying whatever progress can be achieved while there are other challenges that must be addressed by the Biden administration–like immigration reform. The Republicans have always run on a delay and deny playbook when they are not in power (and a few “moderate” Dems have always helped them with that). Democrats should act like they have all the power in the world and make the changes that need to be made. Screw bipartisanship!

Anyway, MASK-UP! Practice physical distancing when out and about. Stay away from gatherings. Wash hands. And follow the CDC for the latest opportunities that may help open things up safely. Moreover, IGNORE Greg Abbott!

Abbott’s Trumpian Response to “Neanderthal Thinking”

Greg Abbott doesn’t enjoy being challenged by President Joe Biden nor the media as was evidenced in his freak-out on a KPRC interview yesterday. The freak-out continued on Twitter (see image).

With Texans, the Feds, Texas city leaders, the Texas business community, and the medical community incensed at Abbott’s idiotic decisions to rescind a mask mandate and open up Texas business 100%, Abbott took the usual route Republicans take when challenged: Racism.

It did not take long for Greg Abbott to go full-Trump by blaming immigrants for COVID-19, even after his failed attempts at keeping open and reopening Texas have caused more death and infection. But Abbott’s reaction only shows his sinister and evil intentions to enrich big business while the rest of the state suffers, not only with COVID-19, but with misinformation and bigotry.

Let’s face it, we don’t need to be reminded that Brown (and Black) folks have always been blamed and scapegoated since Texas was founded. The playbook is pretty old and it’s gotten old. Really old.

In a twist, CNN is reporting that while Abbott makes up stories about immigrants spreading COVID-19 thanks to Biden, the reality is that Abbott is stalling efforts to have the Biden administration provide COVID-19 testing for immigrants and mitigation prior to release.

DHS has already set plans in motion to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to support community efforts to test, isolate and quarantine migrants released from Border Patrol custody, the official told CNN. But the grant money needs to be approved by the state before it can be distributed to border communities. CNN previously reported plans were underway to use FEMA funds to help localities acquire tests. As of Wednesday, Texas had not yet provided a response to the administration since engaging with the Department of Homeland Security.

CNN 3/4/21

Anyway, this post is just a reminder that Greg Abbott is a bigot who will continually scapegoat “the other” for his own political gain. Actually, this bit of news shouldn’t be a surprise. The surprise is that there are still idiots out there (even Dems) who will keep this guy in office, even when given a clear choice.

NIH Revises Use of Ivermectin for Fight Against COVID-19

There have been various reports regarding the use of Ivermectin in the fight to treat COVID-19. I had posted about local COVID-19 fighter, Dr. Joseph Varon, and his associates’ effort to have the federal government recognize the use of the anti-parasitic drug in treating COVID-19. A slight change in attitude has occured at the federal level.

While the feds were upscaling their efforts in creating vaccines for COVID-19, there was still a worry that lack of availability of the vaccine would not help efforts to fight the actual infections that were still occurring in real-time. Dr. Varon and his associates were among various scientists studying the use of Ivermectin, which was known to be used in fighting worms in dogs, but approved for human use for over 40 years. Considering the botched roll-out by Trump and Texas Governor Abbott, this is quite timely as infections and hospitalizations continue to overtax local resources.

Medical authorities at the federal level had taken the attitude that, while Ivermectin was FDA-approved, it was not approved for use against COVID-19. Recent reports state that the National Institutes of Health has changed course.

One week after Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Pierre Kory—founding members of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)— along with Dr. Andrew Hill, researcher and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), presented their data before the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel, the NIH has upgraded their recommendation on ivermectin, making it an option for use in COVID-19. 

This new designation upgraded the status of ivermectin from “against” to “neither for nor against”, which is the same recommendation given to monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, both widely used across the nation. 

By no longer recommending against ivermectin use, doctors should feel more open in prescribing ivermectin as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19. This may clear its path towards FDA emergency use approval. 

“Ivermectin is one of the world’s safest, cheapest and most widely available drugs,” noted Dr. Kory, President of the FLCCC Alliance. “The studies we presented to the NIH revealed high levels of statistical significance showing large magnitude benefit in transmission rates, need for hospitalization, and death. What’s more, the totality of trials data supporting ivermectin is without precedent.”

Newswise.com 1/15/2021

Dr. Marek and Dr. Kory were among those scientists working with Dr. Varon.

This is great news as studies have found that Ivermectin can be used post-exposure, early-stage, and even during late stage. The drug has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties which have helped numerous patients locally.

Here’s a link to DosCentavos’ post regarding Dr. Varon’s press conference on Ivermectin.

The vax roll-out is now in the hands of the Biden administration, which has had to get to the bottom of Trump’s failures. While the roll-out continues, we must continue to mask-up, wash hands, social distance, and if possible stay away from humans outside of one’s immediate family. And, in case you haven’t heard…double mask!

The Harris County Vax Portal Worked For Me!

Was the Harris County COVID-19 vaccine registration portal a bit glitchy and overloaded? Yeah.

Did Judge Lina Hidalgo tell us during her Monday press conference that it may have some glitches that will be taken care of as they come? Yeah.

Did the media report that? Of course not! DosCentavos did.

And did over 50,000 register by end of business on Tuesday? Well, yes, and count me among those that registered.

As posted on the Judge’s FB page: “I know people are anxious to register for a vaccine and website glitches are frustrating. But we’ve designed the system to give everyone equal access. If you sign up in future days you’ll still be selected from a randomized pool. 53K+ people registered today online, with more via phone.”

Let’s face it, local and state governments were left to fend for themselves by the Trump administration. While Trump ordered vaccines, he didn’t do much to help states and local governments with timely funding for supplies and resources needed to educate and inoculate a few hundred million people nationwide (remember, he was threatening to veto all sorts of things because of some internet rule?). Each state and locality has had to come up with their own systems of distribution and storage. And the funding for supplies and resources is still slow-going, on top of the slow production and distribution of vaccine from the companies that produced them. And if it’s a state like Texas, equity isn’t even on the radar of their right-wing leaders (Greg Abbott, et, al).

So, that a local government is actually trying to get something done to give people peace of mind should be commendable, and not something about which to whine, as has been exhibited on the news and by folks who didn’t support Judge Hidalgo.

That people expect perfection locally while the national government is still very much in a transition of leadership and getting to the bottom of what Trump and republicans did to our nation in regards to COVID-19, well, I just need to tell those people to watch their privilege. Because if you’re lovin’ on Biden after only 6 days of signing papers, while whining about local leaders trying to do something that takes more than an executive order, well, you’re doing whatever you’re trying to do wrong.

That said, there are millions of people in Harris County who need the vaccine. At least 2 million fall under the 1A and 1B priority list. A quarter of Harris County residents are uninsured and are not patients under the care of the local big hospitals which were given priority by the state of Texas. I’m just saying there are systemic things that must be addressed that have contributed to where we are now for which we must be demanding systemic change.

Anyway, the registration site is up. If you get a “maintenance” message, just refresh. If there are thousands of people trying to get registered and it overloads the system every now and then, well, that’s a good thing that people want to get registered and actually want the shot. President Biden just ordered an extra 200 million shots that will not arrive until the summer, meaning, the original Trump administration order of shots hasn’t even begun to arrive in bulk fashion. Get registered at as many portals as you can find and wait.

As always: Stay at/work from home if you can. If not, wear a mask, wash hands, and distance from others!

DCs Top 10 of 2020

Thanks to all who still visit DosCentavos.net. It’s been a year, that’s for sure. And for DCs 15th year, it’s actually been a good one. So, let’s keep it going to see where we end up as we head into the vaccination part of the COVID-19 season. Here are the Top 10 visited posts of 2020:

  1. COVID-19 in a South Texas Town
  2. The Pandemic Poetry Project
  3. Fired HC Deputy Chauna Thompson Up For Post in Somerville
  4. Just Another Kill for the LE Trophy Case (George Floyd)
  5. DC’s Primary Picks (and Run-Off)
  6. Tortilla-Making in the Time of COVID
  7. Latinos and COVID-19
  8. Varon: A COVID-19 Treatment That Must Be Approved
  9. The Ghost of HD142
  10. DC Reviews: The Mavericks – En Español

Honorable Mention: My COVID-19 Early Voting Experience

40th Annual Tejano Music Awards Winners

Song of the Year – Ahora Sigo Yo – Stevie D

Male Vocalist – Jay Perez

Female Vocalist – Shelly Lares

Album – Jay Perez – 25th Anniversary Contigo

Conjunto Album – Los Desperadoz – Calm Before The Storm

Collaboration – Shelly Lares and Ernestine Romero – Estupida

Best New Male Artist – J.R. Gomez

Best New Female Artist – Monica Saldivar

Best New Group – J.R. Gomez & The Conjunto Bandits

Video – Stevie D – El Primer Tonto

The TMAs are usually a fancy affair with red carpet arrivals, live performances, interviews, and all that, but 2020s pandemic forced the usual crowd of Tejano Music fans to watch it from their couches at home. Thanks to the Texas Talent Musicians Association and FIERRO HD Radio, the TMAs went on virtually with live nom and winner announcements from radio personalities Johnny Ramirez, Bo Leo Gonzalez, and Bo Corona, along with pre-recorded performances from performers like Gary Hobbs, Jay Perez, Shelly Lares, Isabel Marie, Monica Saldivar and others.

Along with the celebratory awards, fans were offered a Selena tribute video of one of her Astrodome performances, an amazing rendition of America the Beautiful by various artists, and a heart-wrenching In Memorium to remind us of all those industry greats lost this last year.

All in all, I enjoyed the festivities. I didn’t have to rent a tux, I drank hot cocoa in my jammies, and connected my laptop to the big TV. I’m all for virtual concerts right now and I am in no hurry to run into an unmasked crowd at a club. Kudos to Bino Gaona of TMAs for reminding us to Mask Up, wash hands, and to distance so that we can head back toward some sort of normal.

Congrats to all involved and congrats to all the winners and nominees.

Also, just want to say that I picked Jay, Shelly, JR, and Los Desperadoz in my TMA nominee post. So, I guess I still know my Tejano talent.

Tejano Nation has a more comprehensive look at the event.

Tacho’s Pandemic Tamales

The last time I participated in a tamalada was in 2013. It was also the last time our Flo (Mom) was able to participate in one as age and arthritis were taking their toll. So, while Flo supervised, my sisters, brother-in-law, and I went through the process of preparing the meat, the masa, and the hojas, before becoming an assembly line which smeared the masa on the hoja, filled it with meat, and closed the hoja before setting up several dozen of them in a big olla (steamer) for cooking. It was a fun family experience that I’ll always remember because Flo was just so happy.

These last seven years, though, it’s been all about experiencing community, listening to others’ chisme, and seeing other things one sees in the North Side of Houston by standing in line at Alamo Tamales. Sometimes, it was about ordering a few dozen for the season and other times, we’d get into the double digits so we could give out to friends and neighbors. Alamo’s are my favorites–the homestyle ones that are made by an assembly line of ladies in the back and not the machine made ones.

This year, although a lot of businesses are hurting because of the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot more time in my tiny kitchen making my own meals and experimenting. Not trusting COVID-19 protocols (or their customers) at restaurants, I’ve found myself remaining careful and avoiding them. And this year, that includes avoiding standing in line for tamales. Although I do hear Alamo has some sort of protocol to make things safer, I decided a few weeks ago to make my own tamales for my family.

Unfortunately (very), the family-style assembly line would not be possible as distancing and staying quiet while making them is impossible. Too much chisme and politics of which to speak and too many arms crossing to grab spoons and hojas. So, it was up to me and my sister, Sylvia, to get the job done.

The night before, I chopped up a pork loin, along with an onion, a few garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and some low-sodium chicken broth to cook in the crock pot overnight. By 4AM, the aromas emanating from the kitchen were waking me up. After six hours in the pot, I removed the meat and set it aside to shred. Also, the night before, I took a bag of corn husks (hojas) and set them in a huge pot of water so they could soften overnight.

Since I prefer Tamales rojos, I made a red chile paste made of dried guajillo, ancho, and pasilla chiles. I boiled them with garlic, onion, and a little salt, then pureed them in the blender. I kept a third of it to add to the masa, and the rest for the meat. Later, I needed more for the second batch of masa, so, I made some more paste.

Once I shredded the pork meat well, I added the red chile paste to it and cooked it some more in a giant pan, drained any excess fat, and set it aside for the assembly line.

The masa is a whole other experience. After already buying a couple bags of Maseca, I saw that Kroger was actually selling bags of masa. Growing up in Cristal, the only masa we ever used was from El Molino that was behind my childhood barber shop. Since it’s hard to find a molino in West Houston, and after not trusting the masa at the store, I decided that Maseca was the way to go. I unded up using 7 or so cups of Maseca, a 1 lb block of lard, baking powder, salt, and the rest of the chile rojo paste, then added 6 or so cups of warm low sodium chicken broth, making a huge bowl of masa by continuously mixing by hand until it seemed pliable and soft enough to squish out of your hand. If it was soft enough, it would spread easily on the hoja.

By now, you realize that the masa is not only the most important part, but the most challenging part of the process. That’s until you start spreading the masa on the hoja. Memories of my Mom and Pop came up as I tried spreading my first hoja. They made it seem so easy, but it wasn’t. Maybe I just don’t have the talent. So, I went to YouTube and found a Mexicana from the barrio telling me that “it takes years to achieve the talent of spreading masa on an hoja.” Thankfully, this is when my more experienced sister, Sylvia, joined the two-person process. Thankfully, she was faster than me and spread a lot more of the masa than I did.

We like our tamales meaty, so, that’s how we made them. After adding the meat and rolling them up (we didn’t put a hoja ribbon around each–too much work!), it was time for the steamer. I have a huge 24 quart steamer I found at a local market, but I decided to do two different batches (5 dozen total) to allow enough room for the steam to cook the tamales. After adding water to the steamer, to just below the steamer plate, I set up a huge coffee cup wrapped in foil in the middle, then stood up each tamal against the cup and continued placing them around as if forming a teepee of sorts.

We gave each batch two hours to cook. They came out tasty and spicy. Obviously the filling and the chile in the masa are important, but ensuring that the masa is well-cooked is key so that the tamal rolls out of the hoja. After leaving them out to set and cool, we wrapped them up in foil. They were ready to travel, eat, and also to freeze for later.

Sunday morning, I traveled to the ‘burbs to deliver a bunch to my other sister, Toni. We had a good breakfast of tamales and a side of eggs. Brother-in-law made a chile in the molcajete that was hot and that just made you hungrier for more tamales. There seems to be enough for the Christmas weekend and I even kept a dozen in my freezer in case I get the urge.

My first experience making tamales from start to finish was an experience. It’s a process. And if you want them to taste good, you must be meticulous about every part of the process to ensure success. That means it’s time-consuming and work-heavy. Or, as my Pop would say, “es una chinga.” Because after everything is done, you still need to wash everything and put it away for future use. So, don’t complain when someone tries to sell you some expensive tamales!

As my sis and I laughed about some of our mistakes, the lights going out in the middle of the process during the morning storms, and about all the memories with Flo and Pop, we decided that it was all worth it and that it’ll remain a thing we do.

I’m happy with my latest accomplishment en la cocina. And I look forward to a bigger tamalada post-pandemic with the whole family and maybe one-or-two COVID vaccine-inoculated friends, if it is deemed safe. But with Greg Abbott and his followers acting like fools…anyway.

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday. COVID-19 may be at a scary point right now, but if you continue to mask up, distance from those not in your household, and practice good hygiene, your risk will be decreased. And this is worth it, too.