Things That Matter

Who Is Rep. Veronica Escobar? The Congresswoman Representing El Paso, Texas And Fighting For Her Community

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In the wake of the terrible events in El Paso, Texas, Veronica Escobar, the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district, has become notorious for her solidarity with the victims (her constituents, of course) and for being the public face of the Democratic Party in Texas in the aftermath of the mass shooting. A proud Latina woman, she ran on a platform of inclusivity in a border town that sits across Ciudad Juarez, one of the most violent cities in the world due to failed neoliberal policies, the move of factories from Mexico to other parts of the world, and insecurity product of the cartel wars. The shooting in El Paso hit particularly close to home, of course, and her response has been dignified, yet strong. Escobar won the general election on November 6, defeating Republican Rick Seeberger to become Beto O’Rourke’s successor and the first woman to represent the 16th. In the 2018 elections, Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Latina congresswomen from Texas.

Veronica Escobar had a blunt response to Trump after the mass shooting in El Paso.

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She didn’t hold back on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “Words have consequences. The President has made my community and my people the enemy. He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated. I hope that [Trump] has the self-awareness to understand that we are in pain, and we are mourning, and we are doing the very best in our typical, graceful, El Paso way to be resilient. And so I would ask his staff and his team to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this.” 

Following her statements, Escobar has received death threats.

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She told The New Yorker just after the El Paso massacre: 

“Are these threats you have been getting related to immigration stuff? Yes.
Can you say more about them? I would prefer not to. But they were death threats”. 

And then:

“Have you spoken with either the President or Greg Abbott, the very pro-gun governor of your state? I have not spoken with the President and frankly don’t care to. I was at a press conference [on Saturday] where the governor was in attendance.”

Escobar is close to the other politician from El Paso: Beto O’Rourke. She actually is his successor. 

O’Rourke has had an equally strong response to Trump in the wake of the shootings. As The New York Times Reports: “Mr. O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, where the other shooting killed 22 people, continued to focus on a question he had been asked late Sunday about whether there was anything Mr. Trump could do to make things better in the wake of the shootings. In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he said that the President had exhibited ‘open racism’ — an ‘invitation to violence.’ ‘Anyone who is surprised’ by the violence, Mr. O’Rourke said, ‘is part of this problem right now — including members of the media who ask, ‘Hey Beto, do you think the President is racist?’ ‘Well, Jesus Christ, of course, he’s racist,’ he said. ‘He’s been racist from day one.’” Tough times call for equally tough words.

Escobar is certain the Border Wall is a mistake.

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As a force of opposition against Trump in a border city, Escobar has been critical of the proposed Border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. She told SindiGate media in 2018 that the federal government has not been in contact with the community regarding the wall: “This is really disturbing. The federal government does absolutely no outreach. They don’t inform the community and they don’t communicate with anyone. They’re just coming in and they’re going to erect this wall without any sort of engagement with anybody. Walls, in general, are not a solution to the challenges and the opportunities that come with migration and immigration. What we have seen in our country for a long time is a desire to portray communities like El Paso as unsafe places that need to be controlled and sealed off. We are never going to have a completely sealed off border, nor should we. Instead of talking about public policy solutions, we have a federal government that wants to erect costly, unsightly walls.”

Escobar is a face of what people are calling the new congress that represents what the U.S. looks like.

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Alongside political rising stars such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Escobar is part of the new face of American politics that includes women of color and of diverse religious backgrounds. Escobar and her peers have offered a counterweight to Trump and the Republican Party and promise to keep disrupting the echelons of power (in the best possible way) for years to come. Will one of them eventually become POTUS herself?

But Escobar didn’t come out of nowhere: she has a long history in politics in El Paso.

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Escobar was experienced in politics and knew what the El Paso constituents needed way before she decided to run. She was an executive in nonprofit organizations and then worked as the communications director for El Paso mayor Raymond Caballero. Here, she met Beto O’Rourke and started a joint effort to make Texas politics more inclusive and a more accurate representation of the actual population. She was elected as  county commissioner for El Paso County in 2006 and El Paso County Judge in 2010

Escobar has led marches against immigration policies.

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Alongside Beto O’Rourke, Escobar has led high profile protests against immigration policies. In June 2018, for example, Escobar and O’Rourke led protests in Tornillo, Texas, against the Trump administration family separation policy. 

She has a message of hope, but also a will to be combative.

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Escobar painted a true but dark picture of the current political times when she was elected: “This really is a critical juncture in American history for all of us: not only Latinos but women, African-Americans, the LGBTQ community. We’re at such a significant crossroads that it’s almost too much to comprehend. It’s a dark time in American politics. We’re living with a government that is literally working against our communities”

Escobar is not afraid to speak when others may hold back or side with the popular opinion.

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She continued: “This administration has targeted Mexicans and Central Americans in particular, in the cruelest, most dehumanizing ways whether it’s a tweet denying the deaths of Puerto Ricans, or separating children from their families … We’ve never been witnesses to anything like this. So in many respects, I think it’s these politics of cruelty that have inspired a new generation of leaders on a federal level. There’s a wave of women and people of color who are running and winning. It’s a silver lining to a very dark cloud.”

And when she is fed up, Escobar is comfortable muttering “No mames.”

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It was clear what she was saying “no mames” as Trump delivered his State of the Union address.

When Escobar isn’t leading protests or trying to change policies, she is spending time with her family.

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Escobar has two kids with her husband Michael Pelters. She said after winning the election: “For Latinos, mothers are the center of the family. It’s a strong matriarchal society that puts a lot of faith in women, so I feel we have latitude in expanding [our] leadership. Having grown up with the strong powerful force that is my mother, I never saw limits despite knowing the challenges. I’m surrounded by a lot of love and support – I couldn’t have raised children alone or run my campaign alone – and this loving community keeps me going.”

READ: These Parents Dropped Off Their Daughter At Cheer Practice To Go Back-To-School Shopping, Now Their Three Kids Are Orphans After The El Paso Shooting

Beto O’Rourke Campaign Launches Spanish-Langauge Twitter Account To Reach The Larger Latino Community

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Beto O’Rourke Campaign Launches Spanish-Langauge Twitter Account To Reach The Larger Latino Community

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The 2020 presidential campaigns are in full swing and the candidates are all trying to reach as many voters as possible. In that attempt, the Beto O’Rourke campaign has launched a Spanish-language Twitter account. The account, called Beto en español, is brand new and will be live-tweeting O’Rourke’s participation in the Democratic presidential debates tomorrow. Here’s why the O’Rourke campaign decided to address the Spanish speaking community via social media.

Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is using his platform to reach out to Spanish-speaking voters.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“Beto is committed to going everywhere and talking to everyone, even when their native language is not English,” Claudia Tristán, the director of Latinx messaging for the O’Rourke campaign tells mitú. “He learned Spanish in his native El Paso, a community on the U.S.-Mexico border where many residents are bilingual. As an elected official representing the border, he has always used Spanish to communicate with his constituents, regularly holding town halls, taking questions in both English and Spanish.”

Tristán explains that O’Rourke wants to use the same strategy of his political career to give attention and information to the Spanish-speaking community.

The attacks on the Latino community, both through rhetoric from the Trump administration and the shooting in El Paso, solidified the importance of the campaign to address Spanish-speaking constituents.

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“As a native of El Paso, part of the largest bi-national community in the Western Hemisphere, reaching out to and standing up for the Latinx community has been a top priority for Beto throughout his campaign,” Tristán says. “On the trail, he has prioritized meeting with Latinx voters, engaging with Latinx media and is boldly speaking out against the discriminatory attacks President Trump has waged against the Latinx community.  This Twitter account is an extension of Beto’s in-person Spanish-language outreach to voters.”

There are more than 40 million Spanish-speakers living in the U.S. Many of the younger generations are bilingual with parents who rely predominately on Spanish to communicate.

Tristán admits that O’Rourke using Spanish in his speeches is important to her and her family.

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“I know for my mom and abuelita it really resonated for them when they heard Beto express solidarity with the community, in their preferred language, that means something,” Tristán recalls after the El Paso shooting. “That is incredibly profound.”

@BetoParaTodos is going to be part of a larger push to utilize O’Rourke’s Spanish to communicate with voters.

“Beto understands that it is an important part in communicating with this vastly diverse community,” Tristán explains. She adds: “Establishing this online communication channel allows Beto and the campaign to regularly and consistently have interactions with voters in Spanish.”

Tristán highlights the candidate’s upbringing in the bilingual and multiracial community of El Paso as shaping his policies and campaign tactics.

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O’Rourke grew up in El Paso surrounded by immigrants and eventually went on to represent the community in Congress. His outlook on the world and the future of the country have been influenced and shaped by his experience living in and representing a large and vibrant immigrant community.

“In the wake of one of the deadliest attacks on the Latinx community where hate was brought into his hometown, Beto has redoubled his efforts to call out the hateful, racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, has reinforced his commitment to visiting with people targeted by Trump’s harmful policies, will continue to uplift them and tell their stories,” Tristán says.

As a candidate for the office of President of the United States, O’Rourke wants to uplift the stories of those he has fought for.

Credit: betoorourke / Instagram

“Beto is committed to engaging with the Latinx community in a meaningful way: to listen and show up for them, and demonstrate solidarity at a time where they feel hunted and afraid,” Tristán says. “Beto is not only boldly speaking out against Donald Trump and his racist policies targeting the Latinx community, but is also reaching out to Latinx voters to better address their needs and concerns on a range of issues and in a meaningful way that moves this country forward.”

READ: After The Shooting In El Paso, Beto O’Rourke Calls On Media To Call Out Trump’s Dangerous Rhetoric

Twin Sister of Mass Shooting Victim Wishes They Had “Grown Old Together”

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Twin Sister of Mass Shooting Victim Wishes They Had “Grown Old Together”

After a white man with an AK-47 failed to signal a left turn, he was pulled over by state troopers. For motives unknown, that triggered a shooting spree in West Texas, killing 7 people along a 20 mile stretch of highway between Midland and Odessa, Texas. The victims include a 15-year-old teen who just celebrated her quince in May, a father of two, and a U.S. Postal Service worker, Mary Granados, who was on the phone with her twin sister when she was carjacked and killed.

Mary’s sister, Rosie, has spoken out, recounting the gruesome final moments of Mary’s life, as heard on the other end of the phone with her.

The gunman fired at state troopers just moments before he murdered Mary and hijacked her mail truck.

CNN

“I was talking to her on the phone and she mentions something about hearing gunshots,” Rosie recalls. “She didn’t know where it was coming from, if it was near her or anything. She was just doing her job,” Rosie said.
“I heard her screaming, and I wasn’t sure what she was going through,” Rosie says through tears. “I was just hearing her cry and scream for help. I didn’t know what was happening to her.”

“I thought it was just a dog attacking her,” Rosie recalls.

@KristenClarkeJD / Twitter

“My first response was to get in the car and go where she was to go help her.” Mary and Rosie were roommates. They constantly kept in touch with each other, and Rosie knew Mary’s route like the back of her hand. By the time Rosie found her sister, the police were on the scene. “She was laying on the floor when I got there. She was already gone,” Rosie said. “I just wanted to run to her and hug her … kiss her.”

Security footage shows Mary Granados delivering mail with a smile just hours before her murder.

Mckayla Salcido / CNN

Mary Granados was 29 years old, and just three minutes younger than her Rosie. They had planned to celebrate their 30th birthday together. Friends say that Mary enjoyed traveling with her boyfriend, loving her cats, and spending time with family.

“We came to the world together, and, unfortunately, she left before I did,” Rosie told reporters.

CNN

“I still can’t believe it’s real,” Rosie told CNN. “She was so special. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.” Since Mary’s death, Rosie has just been “trying to stay strong for the family” and wrap her head around the sudden loss. “She meant the whole world to me because we came to the world together and unfortunately she left before I did. I wish she would have waited for me. We would have grown old together, but she left before.”

The sisters moved to Texas from Juarez, México when they were 14 years old.

@KristenClarkeJD / Twitter

Rosie said that Mary wasn’t feeling well that day, but was so dedicated to her job that she went to work anyway. She was just finishing up her shift. Rosie said that Mary’s cats have been yowling for her in the days that have passed without her.

The more people have heard Rosie and Mary’s story, the more they’re calling for gun reform.

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“My biggest fear…” tweets Emma. “Guns should not be a right, they shouldn’t even be a privilege unless absolutely needed for your job.” Hours after Mary was killed, along with six other victims, new gun laws went into effect in Texas, to loosen restrictions. Guns are now legally allowed on school property, in times of declared disasters, and in places of worship.

You can donate to her GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.

@thetweetofjohn / Twitter

One of Mary’s coworkers, Leslie Aide, set up a GoFundMe to help support the family. “I had the privilege to work with Mary in the past,” she writes. “She was beautiful inside and out, with a great heart and always ready to be a friend, always had a smile on her face!”

Over $40,000 have been raised to support the Granados family.

Leslie Aide / GoFundMe

The campaign has officially named Rosie the beneficiary. Rosie said that the two of them “were like one. And now a part of me is missing,” she said. “And I wish I could have it back, but I just can’t.”

Rest in Power, Mary.