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.

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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

Selena Is The First Latina Inducted Into Houston Rodeo’s Star Trail Of Fame

Entertainment

Selena Is The First Latina Inducted Into Houston Rodeo’s Star Trail Of Fame

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Selena Quintanilla has been a very important part of the Latino community since she first started to record music. Her sound is something we all know and grew up with. Finally, after so many years, the Tejano singer is finally being honored by the Houston Rodeo’s Star Trail of Fame.

Selena Quintanilla made history when her name was added to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Star Trailer of Fame.

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Selena performed at this venue three times throughout her career. However, it was her last performance on Feb. 26, 2020 that left a lasting impression on fans. The show was made famous by her iconic purple jumpsuit. It was her last concert and it will live in the memory of her fans forever.

Twenty-five years after Selena performed at the iconic venue, the Tejano singer was finally given a top honor.

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Of course, Selena’s sister Suzette and brother A.B. III were there to revel in the accomplishments of their sister. Selena’s induction to the Star Trail of Fame is historic because she is the first Latina ever inducted into the trail. Other members of the Star Trail of Fame are Elvis, Reba McIntire, and George Strait.

Selena is the second woman ever inducted to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Star Trail of Fame.

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Selena was inducted on two very important days for her induction. It was both International Woman’s Day and Go Tejano Day as the late Tejano singer was honored by the group. Despite having been dead for two decades, Selena continues to inspire Latinos through her music.

It might have taken a very long time, but the honor is one that Selena definitely deserves.

With a handful of English-language songs, Selena made the jump from Latin music to mainstream pop. Her influence is still seen today when celebrities wear clothing with her image keeping her memory alive with more than just Latino music fans.

Congratulations, Selena.

We still love and admire you. You deserve all of this recognition, mija!

READ: MAC Cosmetics Is Launching A Second Selena Collection

Rep. Henry Cuellar Defeats Progressive Challenger Jessica Cisneros In Texas

Things That Matter

Rep. Henry Cuellar Defeats Progressive Challenger Jessica Cisneros In Texas

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Jessica Cisneros conceded the race for Texas’s 28th Congressional District to incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar. The young progressive was once an intern for Rep. Cuellar in Washington and wanted to unseat him to bring progressive ideas to Congress.

Update: Progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros conceded her congressional race to her primary opponent Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Despite the defeat, Cisneros is claiming a victorious because of the power the grassroots campaign had in southern Texas. In her concession speech, Cisneros praised her supporters and staff for making a difference in Texas politics through her campaign.

“I think one thing is clear, that our movement was victorious tonight,” Cisneros told supporters. “That’s because this fight has always been about an opportunity to prove how one of us, a brown girl from our community, with her whole community behind her, could take on an entire machine.”

Rep. Cuellar secured 51.8 percent of the vote which translates to 38,720 votes. Cisneros received 35,964 votes.

Jessica Cisneros is running for Congress to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar.

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The 26-year-old immigration and human rights attorney is fighting to unseat a politician she once worked for. Cisneros worked for Rep. Cuellar in Washington as an intern answering calls and dealing with constituents’ requests. Now, the young Latina from Laredo, Texas is going to be on the ballot Tuesday trying to unseat him.

“It took me having to go to Washington to figure out how conservative he was,” Cisneros told BuzzFeed News. “I think about that experience a lot, because I get it when we go up to people’s doors and all of a sudden we, you know, hit them with the facts and what the congressman’s been up to, [and] many, many people don’t know.”

Cisneros is one of the many new faces recruited and promoted by Justice Democrats.

Justice Democrats is an organization that is working to elect more people to Congress to fight for working-class issues. According to the website, Justice Democrats is committed to recruiting, training, and election candidate who will fight for issues like “skyrocketing inequality, catastrophic climate change, deepening structural racism as the country becomes more diverse, and the corporate takeover of our democracy.”

Justice Democrats is the same organization the helped get Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected in 2018.

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Cisneros represents the generational change in ideology that can be seen across the political spectrum in the Latino community. Cisneros is in favor of Medicare For All and the Green New Deal, two things that are popular with younger voters.

Rep. Henry Cuellar’s campaign is being dismissive of Cisneros as a viable candidate to unseat the incumbent.

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According to the Buzzfeed News article, Rep. Cuellar’s team canceled a scheduled phone interview after insisting that they will not answer any questions that were in response to Cisneros.

“We’re not allowing a 26-year-old young lady who’s never done anything question the character of a dedicated public servant,” Colin Strother, a spokesperson for the campaign, told BuzzFeed News.

Rep. Cuellar is considered “Trump’s favorite Democrat” because of his voting record during Trump’s first two years in office.

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According to FiveThirtyEight, Rep. Cuellar voted with President Trump 75 percent of the time. FiveThirtyEight is known for their polling science and, according to them, Rep. Cuellar should only be voting with President Trump 10 percent of the time based on the needs and demands of his constituents. Despite this information, Rep. Cuellar tried to argue that it isn’t that simple.

“If you look at my record here since I started here back in 2005, I’ve always been a centrist. If you want to use voting with the Democratic Party as a measure, you and I are going to be off completely because I was not sent to Washington to vote with the Democratic Party. I am a Democrat, but I don’t see my job as to vote with the Democratic Party. And I think any Democrat or Republican that votes their party, then I think they’re doing a disservice to their constituents,” Rep. Cuellar told FiveThirtyEight in a 2017 interview. “My district is about +7 Democratic, but it’s still a diverse district in many ways. I do better than most Democrats here even though I’m a moderate conservative Blue Dog and I still do very well here. My hometown of Laredo, the border area, I’ll get 90, 95, 98 percent of the vote, so I must be doing something right here.”

The real test will happen during Super Tuesday to see if Texas’s 28th Congressional District will continue with Rep. Cuellar or usher in a new progressive voice in Cisneros.

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Make sure you vote to make your voice heard this election.

READ: Jessica Cisneros Is 26 Years Old And Has Some Big Plans To Rep Her District If Elected To Congress