Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Bush's Fantasyland Near An End

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Border Legislator Asks AG for Opinion Regarding Preventing Minors From Border Crossings

The newly formed bi-national task force asks the AG's office for an opinion regarding preventing minors from border crossings. Here is the story.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Marching Valley Vets Threatened With Arrest

Reported by Kimberly Wyatt
Channel 4 Television News

"This is a protest of an ungrateful nation" said one Valley veteran.

Dozens of veterans from the Rio Grande Valley are taking on the state of Texas step by step gripping the American Flag protesting the lack of military medical facilities in the Valley for the 46,000 veterans who live in South Texas.

Lacking on the state of Texas step by step gripping the American Flag protesting the lack of military medical facilities in the Valley for the 46,000 veterans who live in South Texas.

But their mission could land them in jail.

"They're classifying us as second class citizens as if were invisible, we'll we're not, we're here," said Jay Solis.

Lydia Caballero served in the military as a nurse. Caballero is now the public relations specialist for America's Last Patrol in the Valley and she lobbies for veterans and Latino issues.

"We want to make sure veterans are going to be taken care of," she told Action 4 News on Wednesday night.

After trekking 160 miles their protest may meet a harsh roadblock.

"They are threatening to arrest all of us if we enter the city of San Antonio," said Commander Juan Vasquez.

Vasquez says the Bexar County sheriffs department called the group and told them they could not enter Bexar County or the city of San Antonio without a permit. If they do they risk being arrested.

"They said it was illegal and now they changed their story and said they need a $250,000 bond to walk," said Caballeros.

Caballeros said his organization already had a bond and should not be required to purchase another.

Action 4 News tried reaching the San Antonio police department and the Bexar County sheriffs department for comment, but no one was available for comment.

Caballeros says he will meet with San Antonio's mayor on Thursday morning. The American Civil Liberties Union has also been called on to investigate the permit problem.

The Vietnam veterans were in Pleasanton Wednesday night. They held a vote on whether to walk or get arrested.

State Representative Aaron Pena, who's been with the group since they left Edinburg on Saturday said the men and women voted to continue their walk.

"We've gone to far and we've lost to much in this day and in the last 35 years. We are not going to take it anymore," said Caballeros.

The meeting with the San Antonio mayor is scheduled for 8:30am Thursday morning.

"There are approximately 15 veterans that are at Valley Manor nursing home down in the Valley. They are World War II Vets that no one goes to visit. We are dedicating this march to them.."

To follow the march online you can go to State Representative Aaron Pena's blog at www.acapitolblog.blogspot.com.

Valley Veterans' March to the Alamo Dramatizes Need for Local VA Hospital

By David Diaz

On Friday - Veterans Day - South Texas military leaders and their supporters are scheduled to descend upon the Alamo as part of a grueling march from Edinburg to San Antonio to spark federal action for what they say is a badly-needed Veterans Administration Hospital in deep South Texas.
The lack of a major VA Hospital in a region with more than one million people not only affects the Rio Grande Valley but any other counties that are 150 miles or more from the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio.
The sprawling San Antonio hospital complex, which has almost 600 patient beds for services ranging from acute medical care to open heart surgery and bone marrow transplantation, is more than 220 miles away from Edinburg, the first major city that leads into the four-county Rio Grande Valley.
But that distance represents roadblocks almost impossible to overcome for many of the estimated 45,000 Valley veterans and their families because they cannot afford to, or are not healthy enough, to make the round-trip between San Antonio and the border region.
Leaders with the U.S. Veterans Administration, the federal agency that administers the military medical hospitals throughout the nation, have maintained that the population of veterans in deep South Texas is not large enough to make a VA Hospital cost-effective.
But area residents are not taking no for an answer, and instead began a dramatic march from Edinburg on Saturday, November 5, as part of renewed strategies to increase political pressure in Washington, D.C.
The effort, which began with about 100 marchers, is designed to challenge national leaders to build a VA Hospital for thousands of men and women who have served their nation in the armed forces, but who find the military's guarantee of lifetime comprehensive medical care a broken promise.
At least one public official, Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, has lent more than his moral support to the renewed political movement.
He has taken valuable time away from his law firm and his family in order to walk the entire route to the Alamo with the Valley veterans and their supporters.
“I saw no good reason for me not to participate in such a critical issue,” said Peña, a second-term House District 40 lawmaker. “If I can lend support to the walk, it was the right gesture, especially in comparison to the sacrifices made by our soldiers.”
Peña is documenting the march by the veterans and their supporters on his Internet web site, located at http://aaronpena.org/
The trek, which picks up supporters in the cities along the route to San Antonio, was organized by numerous veterans organizations, including America's Last Patrol, American Legion, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Participants include ex-prisoners of war, Iraq war disabled veterans, KIA Families of the Valley (killed in action) and even retired generals.
The argument that there's no extra federal funds available for a Valley VA Hospital carries no weight with another local legislator, Rep. Verónica Gonzáles, D-McAllen.
"This march serves as a means to draw the attention of the U.S. Congress to our veterans of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Gonzáles, whose House District 41 includes southwest Edinburg. “A VA hospital is critical to fill the needs of our area and we must ensure that our federal legislators keep our veterans as a high priority.”
She noted that the recently-approved federal budget included $286.45 billion for transportation projects nationwide, including hundreds of millions of dollars for controversial bridge projects in Alaska.
Spearheaded by Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, who is the powerful chairman of the U.S. House Transportation Committee, his home state managed to land $223 million to build a bridge higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and almost as long as the Golden Gate in order to connect Ketchikan, Alaska (population 8,900) to the city airport on Gravina Island (population 50).
“Before we spend millions of dollars to build a bridge in Alaska that goes nowhere, let's spend that type of money on something we really need - to serve the very people who have served our country,” Gonzáles remarked.
Young defends the transportation bill as helping Alaska and the nation.
“This is a jobs bill that will put America back to work and begin the process of repairing and building this nation's great infrastructure,” Young said in recent statements. “Alaska is positioned to receive over $596 million in funds. These funds will help to curb our ever growing congestion problems and meet the need of some of our infrastructure challenges.”
Other supporters for a Valley VA Hospital say local veterans who depend on their veterans benefits to receive even the most basic care have to wait as long as a year and more to see physicians at the two VA outpatient clinics in McAllen and Harlingen.
“The veterans down here have gone long enough with only basic medical treatment,” said Lydia Caballero, member of America's Last Patrol and a coordinator of the march. “The wait between doctor's visits is disgusting. I think it is laughable to assume that anyone will know they will be getting sick a year and a half ahead of time.”
Previous political setbacks haven't conquered the determination of the Valley veterans or their allies, though.
“It is very heartwarming to see all the support, not only from the citizens along the way, but from police and DPS state troopers who have escorted us almost the entire way,” said Peña. “Anytime we enter a city, they have chosen to escort us.”
During their march, the group slept at veterans halls along the way, he added.
Marc Cisneros, former president of Texas A&M - Kingsville who retired from the United States Army as a Lieutenant General in August 1996, was one of the many persons who greeted the traveling delegation.
He walked with the group when they arrived at his hometown of Premont, Peña said.
According to the U.S. Census, in 2000 there were almost 1.8 million veterans living in Texas, with about 25,000 residing in Hidalgo County, about 20,000 in Cameron County, and about 32,000 in Corpus Christi.
Juan Maldonado, chairman of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party, was equally frank in his assessment of the federal government's wait-and-see approach.
“It is not only disturbing but shows the lack of respect that our veterans from the Rio Grande Valley who served bravely and proudly have been ignored like this,” Maldonado charged.
However, the Valley is not without some recent improvements for military veterans.
Earlier this year, the state opened the $12.9 million Alfredo González Veterans Home in McAllen, which is named after an Edinburg war hero and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.
Plans are underway for the development of a $8.7 million Veterans Cemetery to be located in Mission.
The big prize, understandably, remains securing a military hospital, a dream that for many seems doomed to the distant future.
But area veterans last spring picked up symbolic support from the Texas Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry, who approved a resolution calling on President Bush and Congress to build the next VA Hospital in the Weslaco, which is centrally-located.
That measure, carried by Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, notes that “our veterans who live in South Texas have served their country bravely and risked their lives to preserve our country's freedom and democracy, and their sacrifices in our behalf are deserving of a veterans hospital to meet their health care needs.”

Legislative Media reports on the major legislative events that affect South Texans.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Marching Valley Veterans plan to Pay Tribute to Pvt. Felix Longoria in Three Rivers

EDINBURG - Rio Grande Valley veterans marching to San Antonio to highlight the need for a VA hospital in their region may take a detour in Three Rivers to honor fallen World War II hero Felix Longoria.

Pvt. Longoria died while on a volunteer mission in the Philippines during the last days of World War II. His hometown funeral home in Three Rivers controversially refused to bury him, which led to the formation of the American GI Forum. Recent efforts by the League of United Latin American Citizens and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-McAllen, to get the Three Rivers Post Office named after Longoria have so far failed.

Felix Rodriguez, spokesman for the Valley’s America’s Last Patrol group and member of the Delta-area Veterans of Foreign Wars, discussed the possibility of the marching veterans making a slight detour in Three Rivers to pay homage to Longoria at the post office with state Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, while marching Saturday.

“We haven’t decided yet, but we might stop and honor Felix Longoria in Three Rivers,” said Cmdr. José Maria Vasquez, leader of America's Last Patrol in the Valley, and organizer of the march.

“Felix Rodriguez is keen for us to do it but, unfortunately, he has had to drop out of the march because his sister is ill. We are still thinking about it.”

Rodriguez did not mention Longoria by name when commenting publicly outside Hidalgo County Courthouse Saturday, just prior to the start of the march. However, Rodriguez did complain about Hispanic veterans being discriminated against. He said the media ignored the views of minority servicemen and women during the 2004 presidential election, when Democratic candidate Jon Kerry’s war record was a campaign issue.

“We are the elephant in the living room,” Rodriguez said. “We are not going to be ignored anymore. We are not second-class citizens and neither are our families. We are not invisible.”

Various groups, including America’s Last Patrol, American Legion, Catholic War Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Non-Commissioned Officers Club, have united for the march. The groups call themselves the United Veterans of the Rio Grande Valley.

The 20-plus veterans who set off on the march expect to get support from veterans from other parts of Texas during their six-day trek to San Antonio. They plan a rally at The Alamo next Friday, Veterans Day.

The veterans are demanding a VA hospital for the region’s 46,000 veterans. They say the number of veterans in the Valley swells to above 100,000 in the winter when Winter Texans arrive.

Before setting off on the march, local politicians and celebrities pledged their support.

“It’s a shame and a disgrace for the families and the veterans that have served this country and, in so many cases, paid the ultimate price, and still be lacking what was promised,” said Tejano music legend Little Joe Hernandez.

Hernandez said that while he did not serve, his family had given 300 years of military service. Hernandez has promised that his band, Little Joe y La Familia will perform live for the veterans when they reach San Antonio.

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said the march was historic. Garcia put the number of Valley veterans at 120,000 and said that with the veteran population aging, the need for specialty care was even more acute.

“There are more combat veterans living in our area than anywhere else in the country,” Garcia said. “Our area, our community, has always been there, has always responded to every call our country has made since Texas became a state. We need to make sure that the federal government recognizes the fact that this is area, south of San Antonio, is extremely patriotic.”

Hidalgo County Precinct 1 Commissioner Sylvia Handy said the end of the struggle would not be when the veterans arrive in San Antonio, but when a VA hospital was built in the Valley.

“We should be here and march with them to show the U.S. Congress that our soldiers deserve a VA hospital with their own specialty doctors here in the Valley,” Handy said. “Our veterans desperately need this medical treatment now.”

State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, read out the Texas House resolution he passed earlier this year in support of veterans’ hospital being built in Weslaco. The resolution has been sent to the President and every member of Texas’ congressional delegation. “We are here to support you,” Martinez said.

State Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, acknowledged that congressional spending was tight questioned the priorities being set in Washington, D.C. “Before we spend millions of dollars to build a bridge in Alaska that goes nowhere, let’s spend that type of money on something that we really need – to treat people who have given their lives to their country, who have never said now to us,” Gonzales said.

Peña, who hopes to march the entire 225 miles with the veterans, described the event as a pilgrimage. “When called upon, you were there,” Peña told the veterans. “Now it’s time for our country to be there for you.”

Representatives of U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, and state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, read statements in support of the veterans, the march and the need for a veterans’ hospital in the Valley.

Upon arrival in Falfurrias, Vasquez said the first day of the march had gone well. He said the veterans hoped to march 40 miles per day. The group will go back to the point they left off Saturday evening, and complete the journey to Falfurrias Sunday. They also plan to stay in Alice, Three Rivers, and Pleasanton before arriving in San Antonio next Friday.

“We have got cramp in muscles we did not know we still had,” joked Vasquez, a Vietnam veteran.

Vasquez said the veterans hoped to be joined on the march Sunday by retired Lt. Gen. Marc A. Cisneros, who helped negotiate the capture and surrender of Panamanian General Manuel Noriega, and state Rep. Juan Escobar, D-Kingsville, a decorated Vietnam veteran.

This story appeared in the Rio Grande Guardian.

Friday, November 04, 2005

QR Confirms Texas Democratic Party Chair Not Seeking Re-election

What this blog has been telling you for days, that The Tx. Democratic Party Chair is not seeking re-election, has been confirmed by the Quorum Report. We told you so!

How unfortunate that some insiders tried to send so many down a rabbit trail by simply calling it a "nasty" rumor. It seems that the head start given to certain "preferred" candidates could not be kept up with our constant reports of the insiders campaigning for the job.

Now that "all" members are on notice maybe a Tejano can have a shot this late in the game. Thanks to our blog posts a number of Latino activists will be gathering in Austin soon to map out a strategy. Perhaps the question could be asked why the "big boys" continue to hide inside information from members of the Hispanic community. We had to hear it from loud mouth insiders.

Despite the party's shortcomings it is still our party and we will continue to work out the insensitive and clique-ish nature of the group that still dominates the party. Now, if they insist on dictating instead of listening or allow equal participation, we have to demand that they win something!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Back To The Little Games in The Texas Democratic Party

As we told you previously, the State Party Chairman for the Democratic Party is rumored to be stepping down. As was there usual MO they are trying to dispel this truth as a "nasty" rumor.

In fact three (non-Hispanics/non-African-Americans) persons have been diligently campaigning for the job. For those in the Tejano community you are supposed to fall for the "nasty" rumor diversion because consultants who parasite off the current group fear they would lose their jobs if a Latino/a Chair was chosen.

Open your eyes Tejanos, it the same charade as last time. If we are ever going to live up to our name then our next Chair should be chosen in a "democratic" fashion by the delegates of the state convention.

Tejanos in South Texas Shafted by Republicans in Pharmacy School Funding

Outrage! Outrage! Outrage! How is it that people like Bonilla and others in the Republican ranks continue to woo Hispanic voters to the Republican party with promises of sensitity when we read stories like this.

It is time to boot these rascals out.

Unfortunately, the history of South Texas under Democratic rule was not any better. How does one argue with voices that claim that Texas is simply a racist society.

Please note for the future, by 2030, Latinos will be a numerical majority, should we treat people in minority status as we have been treated. The moral answer is no. Even from white racists the answer is no, yet they continue to place their boots on our necks and treat our children with indifference.

May God save the state of Texas from itself.