Tag Archives: south texas

Latinos and COVID-19

The LA Times recently featured an article about COVID-19 in South Texas, specifically, the Rio Grande Valley. I wrote a post about bad state leadership and COVID-19 in South Texas in early May. I had hoped that people would realize that bad leadership and a pandemic do not mix and that they wouldn’t listen to awful leaders. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse.

We’ve all heard that it’s pretty bad down there and it is. Hospitals are overloaded, deaths are happening so often that even a transporter of bodies has earned a feature in some newspapers because of how busy he has become. For Mexican Americans and other Latinos, it is bad everywhere.

In 2015, 27% of US Latinos were uninsured. It’s safe to say that given the undocumented population and the economic effects of COVID-19, that number is even higher today. Latinos did not have access to adequate health care pre-Coronavirus. This in itself is a public policy failure, but if there was an underlying condition that caused underlying conditions to become exacerbated by COVID-19, it is the lack of access to health care and wellness.

The LA Times article quoted one of the Medical authorities in the RGV who stated that people were finding it difficult to avoid family get-togethers, especially during the season of Mother’s Day, graduations, Father’s Day, and 4th of July. An article in the NY Times also gave mention to Latino “culture” in the form of family get-togethers. In other words, events that bring families together are a cultural thing in South Texas and folks can’t seem avoid them.

Miya Shay at ABC13  reported on the Del Toro family whose patriarch contracted COVID-19, along with other members of his family, after a Father’s Day dinner.

It’s bad enough that there are failed Republicans leaders in other states who blame Hispanics for the spread of COVID-19, but let’s not forget the failed Texas leadership that downplayed COVID-19 realities and sped up a re-opening of Texas. Greg Abbott chose profits over people.

As I stated in a previous post, the people model their behavior based on the attitudes and decisions of their leaders, and Greg Abbott didn’t start panicking and reversing course until the body count started worsening in July. Until now, it was all about limited COVID-19 testing, a lack of medical resources and preparation, and fast-tracking the reopening of states. Trump continues hell-bent on reopening states and schools. Meanwhile, there are local leaders who actually are–whether in Houston or in the Valley–trying to shut down their cities, yet, are forced to add a disclaimer that their orders have no teeth because of Greg Abbott.

Well, now we are at this point where the whole state is considered a hot spot and it must be restated:  STAY HOME! And if you need to go to the grocery store or to a doctor’s appointment (and I don’t see any other reason other than essential work to leave your home), wear a mask, distance from others and wash hands. It’s not that difficult. It’s up to us. And, if you’re an essential worker, you also have a responsibility to stop the spread by practicing safe protocols and CDC guidelines beyond your work environment.

In other words, fellow Brown people, screw what may seem to you like “culture,” and take responsibility for saving our families! Culture also means taking care of our own families when there is danger.

And if you are a leader of a state agency, college, or university, or a company that has the ability to continue operations from home, then it is your responsibility to be part of the solution–Keep your employees home!

Given the situation with the Florida Marlins and outbreaks at various school gyms prepping for Fall athletic programs, school sports need to shut down, too. And that includes university sports programs. Hell, even professional programs that are supposedly “in a bubble” need to stop this folly of a season. If they can get sick in a bubble, they will spread it beyond the bubble. And it sets a bad example.

Still, the diversity of my Facebook friends list runs the gamut and it freaks me out to see people at get-togethers with people who don’t reside with them at the lake or at the beach or eating at restaurants (even if they are at whatever percentage they’ve been told to be by Greg Abbott) or getting haircuts…the list goes on.

Forget about the fear of schools reopening as that’s still in the future. What is going on now dictates what happens later and all we see in the future are more funerals and more despair if behavior and public policy does not change. We have a responsibility to ignore bad leaders like Trump and Abbott and do whatever it takes to stop the spread.

It’s getting to where the people who are sick and dying are people we each personally know and love. I‘d rather miss (or be missed by) my family members for a couple of months of lockdown than forever. 

Beto’s South Texas Problem Isn’t A Problem

Much is being said about Beto O’Rourke’s losses in various counties in South Texas to his opponent Sema Hernandez. I’m not saying either was a better or worse candidate to voters in those areas. Hell, I liked both of them. But stuff like this happens. It’s also argued that the same happened for Lupe Valdez, Miguel Suazo, and even Roman McAllen. (Some of us visit McAllen when we visit La Virgen.)

Chicanos in South Texas enjoy voting for Chicanos (or people they think are Chicanos). And there’s nothing wrong with that when Chicano representation at the top levels is dismal and you’ve got a bunch of mean gringos (bad anglos) and vendidos (Cruz) trying to build walls and threatening the well-being of families and communities. The familiar is a lot more warm and fuzzy sometimes to a lot of people of different colors and groups, but it seems people only get mad when Chicanos do it. 

Why get mad at South Texas when little has been done in the form of outreach? You can visit most of the counties (Beto) and still miss most of the voters. I mean, I’m not afraid to say that Beto probably saw the same people over and over again at his Houston visits since these events are sold to Democratic activists and not your regular voter. (I didn’t attend any of them.) The differences between March and November voters is pretty obvious too. I’d even venture to say that social media targeting is a lot easier in a big city than in rural areas, since that was the tool of choice for many campaigns. But did they even try in Rural South Texas?

Advertising in South Texas newspapers and radio stations is relatively cheap, compared to the big markets Democrats complain about not being able to afford. Perhaps some ads and outreach to those news and info sources may have helped. Hell, they’re cheaper than a politiquera (google it), that’s for sure.

Beyond all the whining, most of the Democratic counties still vote for the Democrat on the ballot by huge percentages when November comes. Of course, turnout could be affected because you’re talking about a lot of rural Chicanos that might go ignored by campaigns in favor of the big Democratic cities. Well there’s a cost to just about any campaign strategy that is chosen. Figure it out!

Ted Cruz’s idiocy about “Beto” notwithstanding, Beto’s not the first gabacho (not a bad anglo, just an anglo) to use a nickname familiar to Chicanos. Who knows, it could become endearing to folks once they get to know him. But they do need to get to know him and everyone else on the ballot.

Democrats complaining about South Texas just need to stop because that kind of elitism bordering on something else is unbecoming. I swear, they complain in March because we vote for their favorites’ Chicano opponent, then they complain in November when not enough of us vote. In the words of Eddie Olmos in the Selena movie, “It’s exhausting!”

Until Democrats (including elected ones in South Texas) perfect the whole political education thing in South Texas, low information, name-based elections will continue. Let’s all work on it.

Rick Perry Sets Up More Border Photo Ops

This time, it’ll be with the Texas National Guard–1000 of ’em–to be deployed by Rick Perry. Apparently, DPS troopers in military garb and automatic weapons just isn’t enough of a sideshow; now, Perry wants to militarize South Texas.

The National Guard troops will join the Texas Department of Public Safety in its recent surge to combat human smuggling and drug trafficking amid the influx of mostly Central Americans illegally crossing the Rio Grande.

This will send costs skyrocketing to about $5 million per week with no particular source in mind for this cash. (Update:  Rick Perry’s people say that the cash will come from “non-critical” budget items like transportation and health care.)

And this is why Democrats running on the statewide ballot should never support anything Rick Perry does, especially if it’s DPS troopers or armed soldiers running around South Texas.

Hopefully, I’ll receive something slamming Rick Perry from Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte.  For now, this is the best tweet.