My new Siete Leguas horse might be at LIFE this year

Just in time for Christmas nativity scenes… just kidding. Animal abuse or neglect is not condoned but this announcement is interesting. Northern Mexico is known for its horse culture so I wonder how that plays out in Laredo, which is part of South Texas but with a Mexican heart.

Maybe instead of composing a new corrido for El Siete Leguas (Pancho Villa’s famous loyal horse), I should compose a corrido for the wild horses and burros of the L.I.F.E. Fair…

Cuellar  Announces Wild Horse and Burro Adoption in Laredo-1

Questioning Cuellar and others’ practices

A San Antonio Express article titled Lawmakers profit from positions in Congress doesn’t inspire confidence in our congressional selections. The group Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington released a report outlining the issue they found. The Express article starts off:

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog report that claims two-thirds of Texas congressional lawmakers used their positions to enrich themselves or family drew a strong retort Friday from both Democrats and Republicans.

The report, “Family Affair,” by the Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington, states that no laws or ethics codes were broken but shows a disconnect by lawmakers from voters despite continued low national opinion ratings for Congress.

“This report shows lawmakers still haven’t learned it is wrong to trade on their positions as elected leaders to benefit themselves or their families,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director.

The report lists 21 of the 32 Texas congressional lawmakers with questionable dealings.

South Texas lawmakers named in the report include: Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio; Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; Rep. Francisco Canseco, R-San Antonio; Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; and Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.

Our own Representative Henry Cuellar was in the mix and he brushed the report off. The article reads:

Cuellar, a House Democratic leader, received interest on a loan to his campaign, reimbursed his wife for travel from campaign funds.

Cuellar dismissed the accusations about his financial dealings.

“It’s all above board and reasonable and according to law,” Cuellar said.

So yes, while it may follow the law and may not be a big deal to the politicians included, our representatives should be beyond reproach.

Veterans Forum Invitation – Translator, Please.

Thank you to a great first time guest writer, Tricia Driscoll. Well said!

Written by Patricia Driscoll
March 24, 2011

My husband received an interesting letter from Representative Henry Cuellar last week. It was a seemingly heartfelt request for him to attend a Veterans forum to discuss benefits and other important items relating to military veterans and retirees. Sadly, my husband missed the forum completely. It was not because he didn’t want to go, or because he couldn’t find the time. It was mostly because he couldn’t read the letter. It was entirely in Spanish. We received the letter (dated March 16th) on March 20th. By the time he got around to translating it with the aid of modern technology and friends, the forum for Webb County was already over. It seems a little odd (to me) that veterans, all of whom were required to use English in the military, would be invited to a forum to discuss the benefits and issues affecting them in another language. All veterans speak English, in theory. However, not all veterans in South Texas speak Spanish. I’m married to at least one of them. It would have definitely made more sense to print the letter in both languages if attempting to appeal to a Spanish-speaking constituency. The ironic part of the letter? There are two sentences in English: one directing him to see the reverse for the schedule and the disclaimer that “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” Now, THAT is funny.

Just because we live on the border, just because the majority living here are predominantly Spanish-speakers, just because it saves a few dollars… doesn’t mean the attempt to send out documents in both languages for this area should be ignored. The only thing I could think of for this oversight is that the translation was meant to be put in but forgotten. We try to give the benefit of the doubt but…

The BEST bill introduced

From the Brownsville Herald:

Two U.S. congressmen from Texas are pushing to get a bill passed that is named after ICE Special Agent Jaime Jorge Zapata.

Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Michael McCaul, R-Austin, have introduced House Resolution 915, called the Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) Act of 2011. It aims to enhance border security, in part by giving Congress the ability to directly oversee appropriation of funds for enforcement units on the border.

Such units, part of what is already called the BEST initiative, currently operate under the purview of the Department of Homeland Security.

The bill — which was introduced Thursday and has been referred to the House Homeland Security Committee — apparently would also boost the BEST units by strengthening cooperation among DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, tribal, local and international level.

Mayor Salinas goes to Washington

Our Mayor Salinas gets the microphone (at 5:23 of the video) at the Border and Maritime Security subcommittee:

Congressman Henry Cuellar quotes the description as:

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011, the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing entitled “Securing our Borders — Operational Control and the Path Forward,” with Mayor of Laredo Raul Salinas

The city had sent out a press release letting us know the Mayor Salinas was going North to fight the good fight – whatever that might mean:

City of Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas will travel to Washington, D.C. this week to deliver testimony before the U.S. House Homeland Security Borders & Ports Subcommittee, a committee on which Congressman Henry Cuellar is the senior Democrat. On Tuesday, Mayor Salinas will testify that Laredo fully supports secure borders, because homeland security to the nation has always been hometown security to Laredo. Salinas will point out, however, that securing our borders must be done in a manner that does not close them to trade and community, of which Laredo, as the nation’s largest inland port, understands best how to secure and remain trade-friendly. Additionally, the United States owes its own border communities its best efforts to protect its citizens from the violence that is devastating the nation’s southern neighbor. By securing our border, the U.S. will also stop the flow of illegal guns, cash and stolen cars into Mexico, supporting that country’s efforts to end the drug war.

By way of illustrating the need for a continued commitment to trade, Mayor Salinas will share with the committee that “Laredo’s bridges handle just over 11,000 truck trips a day, a number that is down from 13,000 trips a day just two short years ago. While many in the nation eagerly await the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s return to 13,000 – I think the better barometer for economic recovery is when Laredo bridges are again serving 13,000 trucks,” his testimony reads.

Mayor Salinas will also call on Congress to reconfigure homeland security funding in these days of budget cuts to address threats. He will state: “Homeland security should compensate local communities that are providing protection and service to the nation.”

The mayor will close his testimony with a reminder to Congress “….that while ‘Mi casa es su casa’ is a traditional Mexican cultural greeting used in Laredo, it is equally important for Congress to respect that the nation’s border is our home.”

Photo courtesy of the city of Laredo. Either Mayor Salinas is losing weight or Congressman Cuellar is gaining...
He repeated what we know here – we have had 8 homicides (I am assuming last year) almost all solved, the crime rate is down, there has been a 20% decrease in stolen cars going South and 30% increase in violent crime. I keep saying, I feel safer in Laredo than I do in other places I have lived, EVEN THOUGH I might hear the gunfire and grenades exploding across the border in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.

His focus in his very short speech in the video was on decreasing the trafficking of guns and other stuff that goes into Mexico. Makes sense – all kinds of things go back and forth at the international border without necessarily affecting what happens in the residential areas of Laredo. Of course… that doesn’t mean there aren’t connections with some Laredoans to the cartel crime. Have we forgotten La Barbie that many went to school with or knew personally? There are several others out there but… they are still waiting to be caught.

Two explosions leave me wondering

This week has been a hard one for me because I have been sleeping so lightly. Last night, I was almost asleep when I first a big boom around 11pm – but not like the grenade boom. I checked on my phone to see if anyone else was commenting and as I was typing came another big boom.

It leaves one to wonder what is going on in Nuevo Laredo (because that is where I assume it came from).

This morning’s Laredo Morning Times tells us about Congressman Henry Cuellar’s “frank” talk with President Calderon about the violence. Joe Rutland had the following quotes in his story titled Brazen Cartels:

Cuellar returned Wednesday after a United States congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, visited Mexico City to discuss issues pertaining to border security and the Mérida Initiative. U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., also was part of the delegation.

“I don’t know why they didn’t take it seriously before,” Cuellar said of the border violence.

“Lately, drug cartels are going up to police outposts and shooting.

These people are getting very brave.”

When Calderón asked Cuellar where he was from, the Mexican president told him “they understand and are aware of these situations in Nuevo Laredo,” Cuellar said.

“There have been situations were we’ve caught the bad guys, put them in prison (and) then they get out quickly.”

Cuellar deemed his delegation’s discussions with Calderón “frank.”

The regular media has not commented on what the explosions were but I am assuming they were cartel fight related. I could be wrong. I will be keeping on eye out for what officials say it was. In the meantime, I am glad the delegation had a “frank” chat with Calderon, now let’s move on to chat that is effective. Innocent people are losing their lives daily.

Beware of Predators flying overhead

an Express-News Graphic

Congressman Henry Cuellar asked for what?? A Predator, ladies and gentlemen, to roam the skies overhead from Brownsville to El Paso. It is an unmanned aerial vehicle, aka UAV or drone, as reported by the Express News (My San Antonio News).

They have been effective in detecting unauthorized entries at U.S. borders, border agents must still be dispatched to apprehend smugglers or undocumented immigrants, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Predator costs roughly $4.5 million. They are made by a U.S. firm, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems.

Too bad the expensive beast still needs human help. Way to go my tax dollars (sarcasm) – woohoo!