The economy at its lowest with 13 to 15 million Americans out of work during the Great Depression. From 1929 through 1939, the economy was a disaster. At the tail end of the depression, in 1937, the city of Brownsville held its first Charro Days Fiesta to celebrate its bi-national relationship with Mexico. According to Charro Days Fiesta historians, Brownsville residents dressed in traditional Mexico costumes to honor the Mexican cowboys known as charros. Matamoros, Tamaulipas and Brownsville, Texas were sister-cities and the economy got better.
However, in 2017, Mexico and the U.S. have a strained relationship. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has spoken out against U.S. President Donald Trump’s Border wall. With the Department of Homeland Security moving forward with President Trump’s orders to remove undocumented immigrants, life in border communities have become a political proving ground for republicans and democrats.
“We ought to have a rule that all democrats have to go ride on the [Border Patrol] riverboats and all the Republicans go to the respite center and to the detention center because they’re still not doing it.” Said McAllen, Texas Mayor Jim Darling while at a press conference pit stop for Republican Senator John Cornyn and Republican leaders from North Carolina, Nevada. He’s making a light of a political issue directly impacting his city. Republicans have a harder stance on immigration and support President Trump’s views typically visit border patrol headquarters and meet with local republicans. They rarely, if ever, visit an immigrant respite center in Mayor Darling’s city. Since June 2014, the Sacred Heart respite center has given meals, clothing and medicine to thousands of men women and children seeking asylum. The center is a political pit stop for Democrats.
McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County with more than 140,000 people living their according to U.S. Census data. Just south of Hidalgo County is Cameron County, with Brownsville having a population of 183,000+ residents. More than half of the county’s residents live in Brownsville. In the 2016, General Election every democratic candidate on the voting ballot received more than 50% of the votes. The county is “blue”, and compared to the rest of ‘red’ Texas, Cameron County and many border communities concerns are ignored. Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, State Representatives Rene Oliveira and Eddie Lucio III represent Brownsville and feel there is a prejudice against border communities.
In a one-on-one interview Rep. Lucio III (D-TX 38) during a one-on-one interview with News Center 23 said “I think that [Republicans] they’re trying to address issues that are of concern to their constituents. Now, whether they are well-founded or not is another question.” Lucio has witnessed prejudice when elected leaders from other parts of Texas tour the border and witness the economic growth. Lucio is in support of increasing border security but feels a border wall is not necessary. “My home is there [Brownsville] my kids are there, so obviously I want as much security as possible.”
Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez also has felt the prejudice from elected leaders, “I definitely do think that there is a certain view of the border and the border communities that somehow or another alienates or doesn’t make sense to a segment of our society.”
Rene Oliveira (D-TX 37) does is outspoken over his disapproval of President Trump’s policies, “for Mexico to continue to be the kickball for this president and his administration and for some people in this country is a disaster. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
Rep. Lucio III and Rep. Oliveria grew up in Brownsville and feel relationships with Mexico are strained.
Oliveira hopes the 80 year Charro Days tradition will educate political skeptics, “I hope it sends a message to the whole world but if not to the whole world at least our country.” “It’s not just two cities it’s not just two states it is two nations…”I think it’s more important than ever that we celebrate this international holiday”