Category Archives: Cultura

March 14-17: Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair 2019

The Texas Talent Musicians Association (TTMA) is hosting its annual Tejano Music Awards Fan Fair at San Antonio’s Market Square. The 4-day event attracts over 100,000 Tejano Music aficionados from across the US and around the globe to enjoy the sounds of over 200 bands on various stages throughout the Square. The event is free.

Along with concerts, food, drink, and vendor booths, fans will also get the chance to meet their favorite musicians at autograph sessions.

The Tejano Music Awards continues to shine each year by producing the largest Tejano Music events in the country. Scheduled to perform this year Michael Salgado, Elida Reyna y Avante, Shelly Lares, Stefani Montiel, Hometown Boys, Isabel Marie, Sunny Sauceda, Fama,La Calma, David Farias, Eddie Gonzalez, Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers, Joe Bravo, Avizo, Rio Jordan, Da Krazy Pimpz, Boni Mauricio, Bajo Sexto, Los Garcias Brothers, Massore Erick y Su Grupo Massore, Augustine Ramirez , Massore, Cindy Ramos, Baraja De Oro, Monterrey Project, Tony “Tigre” Saenz, Veronica & The Puro Party Jam, Ernestine Romero,  Stevie D & The All-Star Cast , JR Gomez y Los Conjunto Bandits, JT y Sus Criminalez, Magali De La Rosa, Masizzo, Grupo Vida, Tejano Roze y La Nueva Sensacion, Stampede and many more.

For more information and the official schedule, visit the Tejano Music Awards website. And enjoy your stay at the Capital of Tejano Music.

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Same Characters, Same Border Fear-Mongering

The Lite Gov of Texas told El Cheeto he’d build the wall for him and the orange one ran with it.

“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said.

Talk about boondoggles.

Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you. … You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”

If this doesn’t sound like a competition for kickbacks on kickbacks, I don’t know what else it could be. Of course, there’s also the racist nature of Trump and Patrick who salivate at the thought of banning brown people from the USA.

Patrick’s idea is a 200 mile wall from Brownsville to Falcon Lake–basically, South Texas. And Texas will still spend another billion dollars on the current boondoggle of a “border surge” that has destabilized communities and militarized the border.

Needless to say, the Texas legislative session just got a little more interesting.

Here in Houston, Chief Art Acevedo joined the debate by stating that the border issue is overblown and that more money is needed for law enforcement on the streets of Houston. A recent murder of a child by alleged gang members has brought the gang issue back into the light.

ABC13 reported on this with the cops union boss blaming the border and immigrants for Houston crime, thus supporting Trump’s policies. This is nothing new as the cops union has supported racist policies like SB4, 287g and Secure Communities in the past.

This is why I’ve always told “progressive” politicians: Stay away from bigoted policies and those who support them! You’ll never out-bigot the bigots.

I’m expecting border issues to become localized as the cops union gets involved and somehow it all makes it into the mayoral debates of 2019. When Houston is experiencing a host of issues, lack of money, and lack of political will, blaming others for problems is to be expected.

Stay tuned, folks.

Chicano Political Prisoner Ramsey Muñiz Released

Although I had heard through activist friends that Ramsey Muñiz had been released in mid-December, the AP finally reported his release from federal prison a month later.

Muñiz, a policy-saavy, charismatic, well-spoken, Baylor-educated lawyer, was La Raza Unida Party’s 1972 gubernatorial candidate. It was those qualities he effectively utilized to put a scare into the Texas Democratic Party by earning over 210,000 votes in a three-way race which almost ended the career of Dolph Briscoe and Democratic power in Texas. The usual historians write it off as Muñiz only garnering 6% of the vote, but it was 210,000 Chicanos who united in calling out the Democratic Party for their lack of respect of the people.

Although La Raza Unida had achieved much in various South Texas counties and even fielded candidates in Houston and Harris County, it was this venture into Texas politics that helped earn it a special place in Texas political history. LRU even fielded a Chicana for Lt. Governor. And it also caused a change in the way Democrats treated Chicanos in Texas–some might say, at least on the surface.

During the time, as Chicano scholar Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez found out through FOIA requests, the FBI targeted various Chicano activists through surveillance and other methods. Chicano political activity was constantly under attack and effectiveness was always challenged because those in power would never allow for shared political power with Chicanos. Gutierrez has a new book coming out in March in which he details the surveillance of the Democrats’ favorite brown person, Cesar Chavez.

It is said that Muñiz was among those targeted when in 1976 he was charged federally with attempting to smuggle marijuana into the US from Mexico. After pleading guilty to one count and being sentenced for 5 years, La Raza Unida Party lost popularity and died a slow death, while Democrats picked up what was left of Chicano activists who were salvageable for political purposes. Later, he’d be charged two more times, thus given a mandatory life sentence in federal prison.

Many believed Muñiz to be a political prisoner imprisoned on false charges, forced to plead out in order to save himself from long-term sentences on the first two charges.

A mandatory life sentence from a 1994 charge, though, is what caused him to reside at Leavenworth the last 24 years. Yes, a military prison for what are small-time charges compared to cartels and major drug dealers. Like other prisoners deemed to be imprisoned for political reasons, he requested early release from Presidents, including Obama, only to be denied. Because of failing health and age, he was finally released on December 10, 2018.

There is little doubt that the burgeoning activism in the Chicano community of the time was demoralized by those in power. That voting and activism in the community was at an all-time high during the time only to be cut off at the knees perhaps shows why Chicano voting patterns have taken decades to improve. No doubt, there is a lack of trust of anyone in power and with good reason. We are seeing similar responses to recently elected Latinos with strong opinions–just a thought.

Anyway, I’m glad that Mr. Muñiz is home with his wife, Irma, whom I met in 2003 at a conference I helped coordinate at Texas State University. She and a close circle of friends never gave up on achieving his release. And he’ll always be considered one of my influences as far as political communication is concerned.

Check Out Little Joe’s San Antonio [VIDEO]

The title track of Little Joe y La Familia’s recent album San Antonio has been offered up as a music video for the masses, thanks to Lupe Moya and LM Media Solutions. What is a gift to the city from the Grammy winning Chicano icon is a horn-heavy ballad dedicated to the various attractions and the welcoming spirit of San Antonio. San Antonio’s multicultural atmosphere is known worldwide and Little Joe catches it all in the tune and the video. The rest of the album is pretty awesome, too. Check it out:

Thoughts on HD145

Well, I’ve been asked what I think of the Special Election for Texas HouseDistrict 145 and my favorite answer to them has been, “I live in HD137!”

Still, when one of the candidates is a long-time friend for whom one has put up signs, passed out push cards, and helped raise money, it’s hard to stay quiet.

That said, there are eight in the running for HD145, the seat once held by newly elected Texas Senator Carol Alvarado (congrats to her, by the way). The most familiar name to me is Melissa Noriega, who temporarily filled the HD145 seat when she was called up to serve in the seat while the officeholder was called to war. She also served three terms on the Houston City Council having effectively earned citywide support, which shows her campaign abilities. In both positions, Noriega served well and was among the most responsive members of the Council during that time. I did my part to get out the vote during my time in the ‘burbs for Melissa Noriega, so, needless to say, I am rooting for her in this race.

Read more about Melissa Noriega. She has served her community in education, nonprofits, and community groups. Always responsive and always ready to listen to constituents–what I believe are the two most important qualifications of a state representative.

As far as the other candidates are concerned, I know De La Garza ran previously for the seat and Del Toro ran with a lot of heart for Pasadena City Council recently. The others, I guess I don’t run in their circles, but I have friends that are supporting one of the others.

I do want to hear more about all of the candidates’ positions as the 86th Lege Session is about to begin and already plenty of bills have been filed. Other than De La Garza and the right-winger, I haven’t seen much in the form of policy pronouncements:  Where do they stand on HISD and education finance? Public schools or charter/privatization? Where do they stand on SB4? Where do they stand on criminal justice reform? Where do they stand on voting rights? Where do they stand on billions wasted on border militarization? You know stuff on which we have been attacked in recent times.

I prefer to see a campaign of issues rather than a popularity contest. But maybe that’s just me. Anyway, some asked where I stood, so, I responded.

Best of luck to the candidates. I know I have friends working in two of the campaigns, at least. Early voting starts January 14th. Election Day is January 29th.

Democrats Sweep Harris County!

Most countywide Democratic candidates in Harris County knew they looked good after the early voting tally was released. But it was the race for Harris County Judge that had many on the edge of their seats until Lina Hidalgo was suddenly leading 11-year incumbent Ed Emmett by 6,000 votes. Things got a little more comfortable a little later, then, Hidalgo became the first Latina to be elected to the County’s executive post.

No doubt there were Democrats who were supporting the Republican, given that Hidalgo didn’t enjoy the extra percentage margin that some of the other Democrats enjoyed. Some of our Latino statewides were going through something similar for some reason.

Congrats to Lina Hidalgo. She came out strong when she announced her run, whether the issue was flood control and response, County services, bail and justice reform, or even immigration. So strong that she was left with no opposition in the Primary. Bottom line:  Hidalgo held progressive policy positions on these issues, while Emmett did not. So, Democratic naysayers, please stop insulting voters’ intelligence and that of the County Judge-elect. We know which political party is on the side of the people, especially locally.

The Harris County Commissioner’s Court now has a Democratic majority as former County Sheriff Adrian Garcia defeated incumbent Jack Morman by around 1800 votes. The outcome wasn’t final until the very end as Garcia was able to overcome a gerrymandering play that changed Precinct 2 to a Republican-opportunity district. A good and disciplined ground  campaign defeated Morman’s negativity and attacks-based campaign.

For those naysayers, a reminder that a Democratic majority at County will actually address the issues that are important to the people. We need action, not just a pat on the head during a hurricane to make us feel warm and fuzzy.

Kudos should go to Penny Shaw who turned Precinct 4 into a more palatable challenge against Republicans. Penny worked hard from Day 1 and deserves Democrats’ thanks for running.

Along with new faces in black robes on the bench and new administrators like Diane Trautman as County Clerk, Marilyn Burgress as District Clerk, and Dylan Osborne as County Treasurer, Harris County has two new Congresswomen in Sylvia Garcia and Lizzie Fletcher.

While Garcia’s road to victory was a little easier and more about ensuring turnout to bolster the bottom line, Fletcher’s team ran a strong field campaign to earn every vote to take out the Republican incumbent. Attacked often on immigration and Nancy Pelosi, Fletcher kept a disciplined message on health care and took it to the finish line.

No doubt, the Beto effect helped turn counties blue or bluer, but in races that were in tough to win districts, it was the field campaigns that put them over the top.

Other surprises included victorious finishes in HD132 (Gina Calanni) and HD135 (Jon Rosenthal) out in the ‘burbs. Adam Milasincic came up 80 votes short in HD138 (Spring Branch) which tells me that district can be taken in 2020. Adam didn’t run away from right-wing attacks on immigration and held his own against an entrenched Republican. Out in Pasadena’s HD144, State Rep. Mary Ann Perez won re-election in huge fashion due to another excellent field campaign.

Update from Milasincic campaign: Unofficial totals show us behind by 137 votes out of 48,000+ counted so far. We have learned that provisional and some mail ballots remain under review.

While Beto was the lead Democrat in the bunch, closer to the bottom of the ballot was Richard Cantu who soundly defeated his opponent by posting Beto-like percentages. So, I don’t know why some losers are complaining about being close to the bottom of the ballot. Richard did great!

It is pretty embarrassing that some would simply blame straight ticket voting. You know, people actually think about Party AND policy when they go into the booth. Most of us actually went back to check our selections since Stanart’s relic voting machines were switching Beto to Cruz, according to reports. To insult our intelligence after losing, well, folks doing that need to hunker down.

Congrats to the Party, the campaign pros, the volunteers, and the voters! Harris County is blue!

TODAY IS ELECTION DAY!

Well, you’ve gotten the calls, the texts, and knocks on your door from campaign pros, volunteers, and even your family and friends who give a shit. If you were not among the 855,000+ Harris Countians who voted early, well, today is your last chance to do your duty.

#NoExcuses #JustVote and #VoteDemocratic

If you’re around the state of Texas, you can easily find your polling location here.

If you’re in Harris County, you can go here to find a sample ballot and YOUR specific polling location.

RECOMMENDATIONS

I won’t waste your time and tell you to read some “non-partisan” guide to help you decide.

I will tell you that only the Democratic candidates support health care for all, educational opportunities for all, an economy that creates well-paying jobs and better job security, and a path toward a better immigration system that benefits the country–without racism, without military intervention, and with compassion.

So, get to it. VOTE!

 

Getting Ahead of the Blame

Today, 11/2/18, is the last day of Early Voting in Texas, and, thus far, over 755,000 have voted in-person and by mail in Harris County. Voting is 7am to 7pm at any early voting location in Harris County.

There have been quite a few articles and even more comments from folks who have laid this election on Latinos. Well, according to Hector de Leon, the numbers guru at the local elections office, the number of Spanish-surnamed voters is up 253% compared to 2014 midterm levels. Or, almost as many as voted in 2016, with one day of early voting left to go. And then there’s still Tuesday. He added that while 27% of Latinos are of Citizen Voting Age Population, and 22% of the voter rolls are Spanish-surnamed, thus far, 17% of those who voted are Spanish surnamed. So, there is that. Patterns of increased participation are being seen throughout South Texas, too.

Which way they’re clicking, is somewhat up in the air, although one can make educated guesses based on geography, voting patterns, etc. One thing is for sure, among those who have already voted, many are first time voters or those who just don’t vote as often. So, it’s true, people think this is a very important election. Whatever the outcome, the uptick in democracy–even with all types of problems and voter suppression–is a good thing.

And, most of all, Latinos cannot be blamed for not showing up. But Im’ sure we will be. Did the candidates fight hard enough for the Latino vote? Well, that’s to be seen, especially down-ballot candidates beyond Beto and el Mentiroso Ted. I’d like to think that there will be a 65-35 split in favor of Beto. There may be another 5% for el Mentiroso if people voted based on surname or bought into the “fake Mexican” Beto narrative. Needless to say, it’s all about GOTV if one wants to overcome the idiocy.

The ad game could have been much better, too, for Democrats. Republicans have been relentless with their MS-13 and caravan narrative. Trump is even threatening to shoot brown folks trying to gain asylum after escaping violence and poverty in their own countries–if any of them throw rocks. What’s next? mass graves in abandoned fracking fields on the border? (I’m serious! What do you think happens when people are killed en masse?) Although Beto had a great response on immigration, others on TV have basically played the willfull ignorance game, or can’t afford a response. Most Latinos cannot vote in CD7, but we sure as hell can see those racist Culberson ads (and the lack of a response to them.)

Whatever the result of the Latino vote, chances are White men still went with El Mentiroso, et al. Where are the white women at? Ay veremos. But if they still love Trump and hate brown/black people, or they’re willing to overlook abuse of brown people and the apologists who look away, I don’t expect much change in this demographic. (Yet, Latinos get blamed, right?)

Keep voting, Gente. Vote for the Democrats.

 

 

 

A Weekend of Voting and Cultura

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It was a pretty active weekend of voting and culture this past weekend.

Early Voting Sabado was huge and I got to experience a part of it by spending some time at Moody Park with the hard-working folks of Tacos and Vote and then headed out to MECA’s  and Casa Ramirez’s Dia de los Muertos festivities to get a dose of culture.

My friend Dr. Reynaldo Guerra and his crew put together their Tacos and Vote GOTV effort at three early voting locations. Open to all, the festivities included a Taco truck, mariachis, a jump house for kids, and plenty of fun at Moody, Bayland, and close to Ripley House. All of this after blockwalking the surrounding neighborhoods. It was good seeing Adrian Garcia, Democrat for County Commissioner Pct 2 working the crowd at Moody. From the looks of it, Moody had a good turnout on Saturday and reports from the other locations stated their events were a success.

Afterwards, it was off to MECA to enjoy some culture while celebrating and honoring  those who have departed this life. From the looks of it, a diverse group of thousands enjoyed all sorts of food, music, ofrendas, and the Retablos31 exhibit throughout Saturday and Sunday.

I caught an excellent performance by Mas Pulpo–Vladimir Castellanos on guitar and Roberto Rodriguez on the squeezebox. They took us through some classic Tex-Mex standards that all enjoyed, but their show-ending Volver Volver was cause for a sing-along.

After a taco at Teotihuacan on Airline, it was off to Casa Ramirez, the folk and culture bookstore on 19th Street in the Heights. They held their annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration and March. The ceremony was opened by Danza Azteca, which provided Aztec ritual, history, and dance before hundreds of attendees joined a march to Casa Ramirez. Attendees enjoyed tamales, polvorones, and live music by Bossa II, while visiting the ofrendas offered by families honoring deceased loved ones. It was definitely a family affair enjoyed by all. And emotional, too.

I don’t care what the high-priced consultants tell you, politics and culture go together; especially if we’re adding some resistance to it. Brown folks have a target on their back and it is through cultural celebrations and political resistance with which victory can be achieved.

Early Voting Begins Today, October 22!

Today, October 22, 2018 is the first day of Early Voting for the 2018 general election. You get to vote on US Senate, state officials, state judges, and your county officials. And in many cities, municipalities, and school districs, you also vote on anything from charter amendments to bonds.

During early voting, you may vote at any location in your county. CLICK HERE to look up Harris County’s map of early voting locations. CLICK HERE to get a copy of your sample ballot. Just fill in the blanks.

Voting hours during early voting in Harris County are as follows:

October 22 – October 26
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

October 27
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

October 28
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

October 29 – November 2
7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

If you live anywhere else in Texas, you can find your early voting polling location by clicking here. Fill in your address, pick a day you want to vote, and you’ll be provided a location. (And the email is optional!)

DC’s Endorsements

I’m voting a STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC TICKET. The Democratic Party is offering voters the best slate of candidates, including Beto O’Rourke for US Senate, Lupe Valdez for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor,among others, as well as a great list of judicial candidates, including Judge Steven Kirkland for Texas Supreme Court, Rabeea Collier for Judge of the 113th, Lina Hidalgo for County Judge and Raul Rodriguez for County Criminal Court #13.

It’s a long ballot (here’s my sample ballot). At this point, it’ll be hard to study every single candidate and chances are you’re hearing more from the few on TV and radio. So, if you want to trust me, do what I’m doing and vote a straight ticket. I’ve not only studied the candidates, but I’ve met the vast majority of them and I haven’t been prouder to vote a straight ticket in a midterm election in a long time.

Get it done early!