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:4,v. ,. place farther from the river for them to idle. Her local, specific focus was apparent one morning a few weeks ago when a Green Party organizer from Houston came calling at the LareDOS office downtown. It was deadline day for Guerra, who’d gotten two hours of sleep the night before and hadn’t yet written her “Santa Maria Journal,” a column about her ranch. Nonetheless she sat down with the organizer, Nathalie Paravicini, and listened carefully to what she had to say. Paravicini criticized the impact of NAFTA, and Guerra agreed that it probably hadn’t helped the average working person in Nuevo Laredo. When Paravicini asserted that there was no longer any difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, Guerra mentioned she herself had had thought-provoking conversations with a libertarian friend. Paravicini spoke of the four core values of the Green Party, and Guerra commented on the inefficacy of the city-appointed citizen commissions. And when Paravicini declared that various green groups in Texas were beginning to align themselves “like electrons to a magnet,” Guerra asked for names of leaders and convention dates. “Well, that lady was real intense,” Guerra commented matter-of-factly after Paravicini charged off to meet with an environmental activist. Yet in spite of the considerable challenges of third-party organizing in Laredo, Guerra was cautiously approving: “It [support for the Green Party] will be slow, and maybe not in the numbers that she wishes, but certainly it could happen in a way that exerts pressure.” This is Guerra’s specialty, the exertion of pressure. Take the case of the city’s Community Action Agency: when Guerra heard that seven air conditioners designated for the needy were instead being delivered to “a hack who delivers votes in the colonias,” she followed the delivery driver to the house in question and started snapping pictures as the machines were being unloaded. \(According to Guerra, the driver called his boss and said, “That lady from the newspaper is here,” at which point the air conditioners were re-loaded. The agency my newspaper like a club because I’ve never even known that it had power, but it seems to have a way to pressure and move people to take action even if you’re just embarrassing them,” Guerra said. She went ahead and ran a story about the air conditioners; the head of the Community Action Agency retired not long afterward. “This has been a really good year, the first year in which the newspaper could stand on its own feet,” said Guerra, “and the year that I began to believe it was making it. There’d been so much doubt. We’re taught to second-guess ourselves down here, and there’s a fear of making it. This is the year I began to relax about what I was doing and actually start enjoying it.” The current LareDOS office occupies the bottom floor of a two-story brick house, just north of downtown in the Saint Peter his torical district, on a shady street of stately old homes \(many of which were bought by the paper’s old target, Laredo I.S.D., to house its administrative offices and the aforementioned arts magnet school. “We moved right office even the phones ring softly with mostly-bare walls, shelves that contain more novels than periodicals, and an old rattan sofa that often contains Guerra’s dog, Chico \(who is both consists of Guerra and three mild-mannered men in their twenties and early thirties: editor Tom Moore, contributor Manuel del Bosque, and designer Reiver Rodriguez. It is difficult to imagine them ever arguing. \(On the afternoon I first visited, the day before deadline, Guerra served More elusive are the paper’s choir of columnists, who write under such names as “Guadalupe “Kay Wavos” \(que huevos meaning “what balls” satire and gossip and commentary; for instance the January “Rumores” column, by Cholula Bankhead, addressed the city’s planned $38 million ice hockey arena \(not a joke: if the city gets its way there will be taxpayer-supported ice tain members of Laredo’s debutante junta, the Society of Martha Washington, “have formed a new debutante faction called `Marthas on Ice’ and will stage a society ice spectacular. The column quotes Allegra Vanidad, president of the ice-skating debs, describing a number called “Lip Service on Ice”: “Wait till you see that one! Public works management dressed in sheaths that resemble lipstick tubes dancing in synchronization….” Sure, satire might come a little easier if you live in a border town that builds ice arenas and stages a two-week festival each year can dress up as Martha Washington; nonetheless some of the comic writing in LareDOS is particularly artful. The publication ribs the Washington’s Birthday celebration by trumpeting its own “La Colonia Ball” orchestrated by the “Hijas de la Chonguda chapter of the Society de las Malinchistas,” and prints descriptions of the festivities. \(“Miss Manadas Creek … appeared in a stunning barrel of unknown toxic material that oozed sticky lime-green stuff. The antimony slag of her tiara was repeated on her high black “We’re moderate in our criticism” of the Washington’s Birthday Celebration, said Guerra, herself a recovering debutante. “We all See “All the News,” page 27 Kate Krueger tok t. . LareDOS 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 18, 2000