WESLACO, RGV – The two longest-serving columnists at the Rio Grande Guardian have stressed the importance of this week’s joint Texas House hearing in the Rio Grande Valley.

The House Committee on Transportation and the House Committee on International Relations and Intergovernmental Affairs holds a hearing Tuesday at the Knapp Conference Center in Weslaco. The hearing runs from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

Click here to read the Rio Grande Guardian’s preview story.

José Antonio López

In letters to the editor, columnists José Antonio López and Gary Mounce note that legislative hearings are not held that often in the Valley. They view the visit of the two committees as a great opportunity for the Valley to sweep aside ill-informed and negative perceptions.

Referring the preview story, López wrote: “Great run-down on the important gathering in Weslaco this coming week. Confidently, it will counter the negative perception mainstream Texas and U.S. society have of our beloved RGV and South Texas in general.”

López, an award-winning Tejano historian, said he hopes it is not another photo-op.

“With any luck, the media, the Texas Border Coalition, and other attendees will hold the government representatives accountable. The horrid misinformation about the border is fixable. It begins with them taking the message back and doing something with it. That is, the bottom line is that most of the entire U.S. mainland is impacted by U.S.-Mexico border trade business in one way or the other. Mexico must no longer be used as a scapegoat for this country’s troubles,” López said.

State Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, is chair of the House Committee on Transportation.

“Rep. Morrison is sure to get an earful about the adverse impact her party’s insistence on building walls has on Texas commerce. Expectedly, she will realize that her Texas House Committee on Transportation would virtually disappear,” López wrote.

“After all, geography is on Mexico’s side, with an immense coastline on the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean it is a logical option. The bottom line is: Don’t dare Mexico to get to the point to take their trade elsewhere.”

Only three members of the two committees visiting the Valley represent the Texas-Mexico border region: Armando Martinez of Weslaco, and Joe Pickett and Lina Ortega of El Paso. Martinez and Pickett are the transportation panel. Ortega is on the international relations panel.

Dr. Gary Mounce

Mounce, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said he agreed with López’s analysis.

“As a fellow contributor to the Rio Grande Guardian, it is my pleasure to join my colleague, José Antonio López, in wishing fortune to the upcoming Joint Committee Hearing by the Texas Legislature, to be held in the South Texas Valley,” Mounce said.

“José’s history lessons, over many years, provided to the reading public of the Rio Grande Guardian, have inspired me. This published author and expert on Mexican and Mexican American History deserves our attention. His analysis of the Mexican advantage of ‘Three Coasts’ (plus a ‘fourth coast’ – the long border with the United States) should be both a warning and a challenge.”

Mounce said border communities have choices to make.

“Do we join with Mexico in true ‘fair trade’ or do we allow some political officials, without contradiction, to denigrate our neighbors? It is our choice. As Mr. López contends, the facts and statistics speak for themselves; this area, this entire border has been misunderstood and misrepresented.”

Mounce said citizens and political leaders alike must now, finally, “face facts.” Namely, the border region’s importance not only to trade but also with its cultural and educational connections.

“Why should not members of the Texas Legislature, from both major parties, be the ones to set the record straight? José’s reference to using Mexico as a ‘chivo expiatorio’ or scapegoat is apt. Such negative attitudes and actions must be called out and ended. Then, renewed, positive decisions and policies may begin and lift our state and nation to a better place.”