LAS MILPAS, Texas – Members of La Unión del Pueblo have not been fooled by TV attack ads claiming U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez is in cahoots with Mexican drug cartels.

This is the view of Daniel Diaz, political director of LUPE Votes. 

The TV commercial, funded by a Republican-friendly Super PAC, claimed that because Gonzalez, an attorney, represented a drug smuggler and a gang leader in court, he must be connected to Mexican drug cartels. The same commercial said Gonzalez kept his money in a bank in communist China. 

Asked about the commercial, Diaz said: “I think that’s pretty ridiculous. He’s an attorney, he represents clients, that’s that’s the American justice system. Everybody gets a lawyer.”

Diaz said the Gonzalez commercial came up in discussion at a LUPE Votes house meeting in Alamo. “A lot of the men brought that up. They specifically mentioned that how ridiculous the commercial was.”

The Rio Grande Guardian interviewed Diaz at an election party held in Las Milpas on Saturday evening. Diaz acknowledged LUPE Votes is facing an uphill struggle in trying to counter all the negative ads appearing on TV, radio, the Internet and in mail shots. 

“We know that Republicans are spending a record amount of money whether through the party, their candidates or through Super PACs and their dark money here in South Texas,” Diaz said.

“So, the discussion we are having right now with folks is that yeah, they’re seeing these terrible ads on TV and we’re just trying to dispel them. For folks to understand just because they see a 15 or 30 second ad in Spanish on television doesn’t mean that it’s true.”

Diaz said that through their negative attack ads the GOP is strategy is to dampen the enthusiasm of voters for the candidates LUPE Votes is endorsing in the hope that those voters will not go to the polls.

If that is the strategy it might be working because the first day of early voting in Hidalgo County saw less voters exercise their democratic right than they did in the 2018 election. The 2018 vote total for day one of early voting was 19,650. The figure for 2022 was 13,750.

“They are trying to confuse us, to divide our community. So, we’re going directly inside communities, whether they be small or big meetings or gatherings to just talk to folks, to educate them on the issues and the candidates,” Diaz said.

At the election party in Las Milpas the specific push was to garner support for Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Party candidate for governor, and Rochelle Garza, the Democratic Party candidate for attorney general.

Asked if LUPE members were being influenced by the constant barrage of negative ads, Diaz said: “I think a lot of people are seeing through them. But for some it is giving pause for thought. They are not sure what to think about it. I don’t think they’re completely buying into it because a lot of the ads do seem pretty ridiculous.”

Asked how LUPE Votes can counter the attack ads, Diaz said: “We’re going heavy on digital ads, on Facebook, YouTube. We don’t have millions of dollars for TV but we have enough to have a good presence on digital media. And we’re trying to get creative on platforms like Hulu. So, we’re trying to get creative in that way we are reaching specific populations in South Texas.”

Editor’s Note: Here below is a video recording of Daniel Diaz talking to colonia residents in Las Milpas:


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