Page 1


Libby Doggett told the convention that, unlike her husband, other politicians “always say ‘yes,’ but they never say when,” echoing the sentiments of an old Mexican love song. That evening love songs, polkas, and cumbias reverberated inside the corrugated steel dance hall of the Palmer Pavilion in McAllen. The convention delegates and their families danced, despite the freeze and the workless days and the unpaid bills. Against great odds, they endure. ALONG OLD HIGHWAY 83 between Mercedes and McAllen the first thing you notice is the plethora of the trailer parks, one after another up against the highway. Inside the parks, mobile homes, Airstreams, and recreational vehicles are lined up, row on row. Some are attached to awnings. Most are surrounded by lawn chairs. White-haired men and women stand and sit among the trailers. Some huddle over barbecud pits, while others have a go at shuffleboard. Here and there a man or woman walks a dog on the shoulder of the highway. They are the “Winter Texans,” the “snowbirds.” They descend upon the Valley from the Midwest in late autumn, and most leave by mid-spring. They are wooed by competing Chambers of Commerce in the Valley towns, given discounts, town hall parties, and entertainment. They are one of the few industries still operating in the Valley. They drive their big American cars around Weslaco, Donna, Alamo, and Pharr. They fill the Furr’s cafeterias and the pancake houses along 83. And for a while some worked in soup kitchens set up to serve the victims of the freeze. It was their first contact, many said, with the farmworkers they’d lived among for several months each year for many years. During the UFW convention, a farmworker had testified that a few snowbirds had been among those lined up for surplus cheese. This is not the Riviera or Key West. It is a workingclass retirement community, supported for the most part by fixed pensions, social security, and small savings. It is not immune to the hazards of Reaganomics . Across from the trailer parks, on the other side of the railroad tracks that run along the north side of the highway, stand the large Valley produce warehouses. Except for a few trucks being loaded with carrots from a conveyor belt, there was little movement among the warehouses. More striking are the acres and acres of ruined citrus groves. Bare black and brown trees stand in neat rows where rotten citrus litters the ground. The evening sunlight catches the contrast between the bright worthless fruit on the ground and the dark trees that are little more than shadows of trees. A few grapefruits cling to branches of trees scattered throughout the groves. They bounce almost bouyantly on gusts of wind like lanterns swinging in a dark forest stretching for miles. El SOCIAL CAUSE CALENDAR “No government can be effective unless it is rooted in the people, much less so when it seeks to impose itself at the cost of pain and blood . . . reforms mean nothing when they come bathed in so much blood . . . I beg you, I beseech you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression! ” Archbishop Oscar Romero, last sermon, March 23, 1980 CENTRAL AMERICA WEEK Central America Solidarity groups, Peace and Justice organizations, and Human Rights groups in Texas are planning activities to commemorate Central America Week, March 19-25, and the anniversary of the assassination of El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, murdered while celebrating Mass, March 24, 1980. Events include: Austin: Austin CISPES will have a forum, “Alternatives to National Security Policies,” March 20, UT-Austin, Burdine Hall, room 106, 7:30 p.m., with panel discussions on the Kissinger Commission’s Report on Central America, Middle East policies, and the history of U.S. intervention. Henry Kissinger will speak at the LBJ School of Public Affairs March 22. A silent picket to protest Mr. Kissinger’s role in advocating U.S. intervention abroad and military buildup will be March 22, LBJ 452-6245 for details. The Interreligious Task Force for Central America Refugees will have a demonstration March 24, Federal Building, 9th St. and San Jacinto, 10-11:30 a.m., to protest U.S. intervention in Central America, followed by an interfaith worship service, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1206 E. 9th St., noonprogram information. San Antonio: The Mexican American Cultural Center and the Interreligious Task Force on Central America will sponsor workshops March 19-25. Speakers from Latin America, including Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Perez-Esquival, will discuss non-violent and violent resistence, U.S. foreign policy, human rights, and the role of the Catholic Church in Central America. Talks will be at the Mexican American Cultural Center, West Russell St., San Antonio. Call Sister Theresa Houston: A Mass for Archbishop Romero will be celebrated at Casa Oscar Romero, 1010 Hyde Park, March 24; call Dallas: A Central American theater group will perform the play “Valor Comprado” on March 17 at Ledbetter Sports Center, 4116 Gentry, 7:30 p.m. On March 23 there will be a fundraising dinner at Bethany House, 4906 Bonnie View, 7 p.m., $3 per person. Jennifer Eppler and Carole Robbins, who are just returned from Nicaragua, will speak. The 4th annual celebration of the life of Archbishop Romero will take place on March 25 at the Ascension Lutheran Church, 4230 Buckingham Road in Garland at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Interreligious Task Force on Central America. The contact for all events is Bethany House, Notices on upcoming events must reach the Observer at least three weeks in advance. FUNDRAISING DRIVE The Dallas Chapter of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador struggle in El Salvador by renting a billboard on a well traveled Dallas highway during the Republican Convention m Dallas this summer. For information about contributing money or planning fundraisers contact Sister Patricia Ridgley, 375-3715. VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE Human Service Employees Registration, Voting and Education Campaign Texas human service agencies such as the Texas Employment Commission, the Health Department, and the Department of Human Resources to register their clients to vote. Volunteers are needed to register voters before the April 5th deadline for the May 5 primary. In Austin TARAL BENEFIT The Texas Abortion Rights Action League will hold a “St. Patrick’s Day PreBrew Ale and Beer Tasting Party” with imported brews, Irish music and food, March 15, Caswell House, 1404 West Ave., Austin, 5-7:30 p.m., $10. Call tickets. 14 MARCH 9, 1984