Things That Matter

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

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.

Credit: @karlamartinezdesalas / Instagram

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.

Credit: vgescobar915 / Instagram

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.

Credit: @RepEscobar / Twitter

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.

Credit: vgescobar915 / Instagram

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.

Credit: @coexdesigngroup / Instagram

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.

Credit: @farmaalevkalkan / Instagram

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.

Credit: @whatisyourmarch / Instagram

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.”

Credit: this_ninja_toonz / Instagram

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.

Credit: @vgescobar915 / Instagram

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

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

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Former Texas State Senate Candidate Says She Was ‘Tortured’ in a Hotel Room After a Violent Ambush

Photo: Vanessa Tijerina/Facebook

Texas police are currently trying to get to the bottom of a disturbing incident that happened in Raymondville on Monday.

Former Republican candidate for Texas state Senate, Vanessa Tijerina, posted a shocking 10-minute Facebook Live video detailing the brutal assault she experienced in a nearby hotel on Monday.

Tijerina appeared in the video with her face looking unrecognizable. She had two black eyes–both of which were swollen almost completely shut.

Her face was covered in bruises. Her speech was impaired from how much swelling she was experiencing. It looked–to be blunt–like she had been beaten to a pulp.

Through tears, Tijerina explained to her followers that she was lured to a hotel room by some unnamed assailants who led her to believe they had “something really really really important” to tell her that they couldn’t tell her over the phone.

But once she was alone in the hotel room, the assailants “gagged, bound [and] tortured” her.

“I was beaten. I was terrorized, bound, gagged, tortured,” she said in the Facebook Live video.

“I never fought back because I knew that if I fought back, it would’ve been worse and I probably wasn’t going to survive. And I needed to survive for my daughters.”

Although a motive for the assault hasn’t yet been established, Tijerina is a relatively high-profile figure in Texas’s Raymondville community. She is active on social media and regularly goes on Facebook live to engage with her followers and supporters. And with her high profile comes a litany of critics and haters who have created troll accounts with the express purpose of smearing her.

Despite all this, Tijerina refutes the rumors that she “did something” to motivate the beating.

“There was nothing that I did that made this okay for this to happen to me,” she said. Tijerina began to get increasingly more emotional as she talked about her children and the fact that she was not able to give her children the toys she bought them for Christmas.

So far, Raymondville police have arrested three suspects in connection to the assault: Amanda Salinas, Ariel Jamie Vela and Ramon Donato Santana Jr. As for who was on the phone giving orders at the time of the assault, police are still looking for answers.

As of this writing, the police have not yet publicly revealed a motive. But since her attack, Tijerina has again taken to her Facebook page to assert that the assault was “100% motivated by hate.”

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4-Year-Old is Rescued By First Responders After Being Trapped in a Well For 6 Hours; ‘It’s a Christmas Miracle’

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4-Year-Old is Rescued By First Responders After Being Trapped in a Well For 6 Hours; ‘It’s a Christmas Miracle’

Photo courtesy of City of Mission, TX

On December 8th, a 4-year-old boy in Garceño, Texas was rescued from an 8-inch wide well after accidentally falling into it. According to the authorities in Mission, Texas, the boy was rescued by first responders who worked tirelessly over a six hour period to dig the boy out.

According to reports, the authorities responded to an emergency call at 4:40 p.m that explained that the 4-year-old had fallen down a well at a ranch property in Garceño.

The stunning rescue was captured on video for the world to see.

“So proud of our Mission firefighters & all 1st responders that rescued the child after 6 long hrs,” the City of Mission wrote on Twitter. “Pit was only 8-10 inches in diameter. It’s a Christmas miracle!”

The video shows the final moments of the rescue. Onlookers applauded as first responders lifted the boy out of the hole.

Authorities reported that the boy was flown to hospital to undergo testing after his harrowing ordeal. He is reportedly in stable condition.

The day after the boy’s rescue, Sheriff Rene “Orta” Fuentes took to Facebook to express his gratitude to the Starr County community, naming every first responder who had a hand in rescuing the unnamed boy.

“Last night proved to be a testament of our community and neighboring communities’ unity and sincere concern for each other,” wrote Sheriff Fuentes. “Through prayers and actions from everyone involved a little boy lives today.”

The city of Mission also tweeted out videos and photos, calling the rescue a “Christmas Miracle”.

According to Robert Alvarez, the assistant fire chief of the town’s Fire Department, a crew trained in “trench rescues” was sent to the scene.

According to local authorities, the rescue team dug a hole in the ground parallel to where the boy was trapped. When the second hole was deep enough, the team chiseled away at the ground until they were able to break through the wall of where the boy was trapped.

Throughout the entire ordeal, Alvarez says that the child’s welfare was of the utmost priority. “The biggest thing that we were trying to make sure was that the operation was done safely,” he told USA Today.

This is a happy ending to an ordeal that could have ended in tragedy. We’re happy that this little boy and his family are able to celebrate the holidays together, safe and sound.

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