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This week brought a diverse array of letters to the editor. Contributors addressed voting, the proposed land exchange between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and SpaceX and liquefied natural gas terminals. In addition we received a remembrance of Harlingen’s late Mayor Connie de la Garza and thanks for Christmas donations for children.

As always, we thank those who share their views with our readers.

Let’s work together

Looking at the GOP Iowa caucus on Jan. 15 did not give me the impression that those running were qualified for the position of president. It reminded me of the book Lord of the Flies and Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory of survival of the fittest.

This is phase one of a long process nationwide.

The winner did not get 100% of the vote, meaning it is not guaranteed that he will get 100% of Republicans’ votes in the general election. There are never Trump Republicans who will abstain from voting or vote Democrat to keep the Republican vote low.

The propaganda machine on both sides is set on high speed as Election Day gets closer. Disinformation and misinformation will be so entangled that it will be almost impossible to decide between the two. Manipulation and confusion will control the vote like so many times before, except today high tech makes it so much easier to produce and confuse.

Voters walk past election signs at Lark Library Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

I only hope the voter makes an educated choice over a manipulated choice this November; because this nation is counting on the American voter to guide this nation in the right direction and move forward. This quagmire we find ourselves in today can sink this nation if we just sit idle on our hands and do nothing.

Like never before, everyone needs to get out and vote so we can be heard nationwide. We need to be together and work on making America the great country that it is.

America is the example; that’s why people from all nations migrate here. We can work together better than apart.

Rafael Madrigal


Contributions appreciated

Generosity throughout Brownsville​​​​​ contributed to a successful shoebox gift collection season at drop-off locations for the Samaritan’s Purse project, Operation Christmas Child. Across the U.S., the project collected 10 million shoebox gifts in 2023. Combined with those collected from partnering countries in 2023, the ministry is now sending more than 11.3 million shoebox gifts to children worldwide, including many who are suffering from war, poverty, disease and disaster.

Through shoeboxes — packed with fun toys, school supplies and personal care items — Brownsville-area volunteers brought joy to children in need around the world. Each gift-filled shoebox is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift one of these children has ever received. Through the continued generosity of donors since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 220 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories.

Across Texas, shoebox packers often shop for deals on shoebox items throughout the year, and many serve at a deeper level by becoming year-round volunteers. Information about ways area participants can get involved year-round can also be found at or by calling 817-595-2230.

Although local drop‑off locations for shoebox gifts are closed until Nov. 18-25, 2024, anyone can still be a part of this life-changing project by conveniently packing a shoebox gift online in just a few simple clicks at

These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message to children worldwide that they are loved and not forgotten.

Luke Switzer

Samaritan’s Purse

Boone, N.C.

Elon Musk draws fire

Good neighbor policies? SpaceX again wants to expand its operations here and the latest acquisition surprised many of the locals, including the Cameron County commissioners. Do they now realize they have a tiger by its tail?

On Jan. 24, Texas Parks and Wildlife held a hearing on a proposed land swap by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which wants 43 acres of Boca Chica State Park to “expand its operational footprint around its launch facilities” in exchange for giving TPWD 477 acres SpaceX owns near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. TPWD has recommended approving the swap internally, but due to public notice procedural problems the vote was delayed. During the short time available for comments, though, the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter stated there were more than 1,000 comments in opposition to the proposal and about 265 in support.

The tracts in green show the land that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would provide to SpaceX in proposed land swap. The land in orange is Boca Chica State Park. (Courtesy: TPWD)

Would this land swap get rid of that pesky open beaches lawsuit appeal now in process?

What about the water deluge system permit for which SpaceX has not yet applied, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has not issued, as it is still under “evaluation” even though the actions are ongoing? Is this Catch-22?

Let’s face it. Musk has no place else to go to use his venture capital approach to rocket testing/launching as Boca Chica Beach has the location, location, location. Recall a recent letter to the editor here by Barry Benton in Brownsville describing the damage caused to his law office by the vibration of Elon Musk’s Starship latest launch; his property damage cost is his sole responsibility.

With a greater operational footprint, is there any doubt from current and past actions that Musk will exploit our area for his experimental testing program to remake it into his own “company town” — with the apparent help of our Texas government?

Diane Teter


Old ideas, new terms

Words used to have meaning, now we redefine them to make everything nice. I blame the auto industry for this. Used cars had a certain meaning understood by all and somehow those same old rusty piles morphed into preowned. Suddenly, everything is better.

Not to be outdone, our government has now given us a whole new range of aphorisms. UFOs have become unidentified anomalous phenomena. Illegal aliens, people who illicitly enter our country, are now generously called undocumented or asylum seeking. Homeless people have been retitled as unhoused, while yesterday’s winners and losers are now simply participants in children’s games. Lately sexual mores have received a language boost; homosexuals have become gay, people who used to be straight have now become cisgendered and prostitutes have become workers in the sex industry.

I wish they would stop. I never learned any of this stuff in kindergarten, which up until now I thought would take me through my old age. Perhaps they can do something to make me feel better. I would appreciate having my personal senility crisis upgraded from tottering old fool to previously young.

Darrell Roberts


Biden bashed

We are living in a very dangerous time in the U.S. if one party can decide whom we will vote for by destroying by any means possible their opponent, we have lost our democracy. But remember, this will work two ways! Both parties can cut with the same sword.

Joe Biden is campaigning on the idea that Donald Trump and those who support him are a threat to America. He’s not campaigning on his achievements, of which there are few, but rather the MAGA supporters are a danger to American democracy.

Biden has shown and articulated his hatred for half of the American people. Rarely do you hear Biden disagree with Trump’s policies. He can’t because he knows that for four years Trump did in fact make America great again.

President Joe Biden arrives at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, to travel to Manhattan to attend fundraisers. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Just Google “Biden hates MAGA.”

Whatever your party affiliation is, we are all Americans, and we must stand together against any one-party rule. That’s why we must all work for fair and honest elections. All voting Americans have the right to decide who will hold any office.

Americans are not stupid people. We can see which elected officials have fought for and served the hard-working American people and which are self serving and unwilling to honor our veterans, keep our borders safe, make us energy self-sufficient, keep our military the strongest in the world and love America and the freedom that we live under. That freedom didn’t come free. We must continue to preserve and protect it.

Scott Matthews


Library holds Big Book Sale

Brownsville has an excellent library that offers a variety of services, one of which is the Friends of the Library Bookstore located past the checkout area near the front desk.

Bookstore hours are almost the same as library hours: Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bookstore has approximately 20 volunteers, some who have been here more than 15 years. We are currently seeking more volunteers for the central library’s bookstore and for the sister bookstore at the Southmost branch.

Hours for volunteering are flexible and average only three hours a week. If you love books, this can be a rewarding experience.

If you’re interested, please email Bobbi Vasquez at [email protected] or call the main library at (956) 548-1055.

Books, movies and cds fill the shelves Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Friends of the Library room at the Brownsville Public Library Southmost Branch. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

We are very lucky to have a very experienced person as our organization’s president. Her name is Bobbi Vasquez. She keeps our bookstore well-stocked with the most popular and useful books but without the high prices! She was the manager of the bookstore at Sunrise Mall for several years. Many customers express gratitude for having access to such affordable books.

We have fiction and non-fiction hardbacks at $1 and paperbacks at 50 cents; movies, DVDs and music, $1; magazines at 25 cents, and a great way to recycle; children’s books, romances, travel, medical, hobbies, cookbooks, text books, large print and Spanish-language books, and many more categories. Come see see for yourself.

We are hosting a Big Book Sale. The Big Book Sale at the Main Library runs through Feb. 18, and at the Southmost Library Feb. 20-March 5 during bookstore hours of operation.

We look forward to seeing you and thank you for your time and consideration.

Christy Gutierrez


De la Garza remembered

It is with deep sorrow that my family and I offer our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the family of Mayor/TSTC Regent Connie De la Garza. He was my friend as well as my mentor in many ways.

Connie De la Garza, of Bahnman Realty, Inc. is pictured Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at his office in Harlingen. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

I met him for breakfast at Vela’s Restaurant many, many times along with his regular breakfast club friends to discuss current events in the city and nation. In fact, anyone coming to visit TSTC Harlingen has an automatic invitation to the breakfast club. This included TSTC Systems administration and many other dignitaries.

I also enjoyed spending time dove hunting with Connie at my ranch. I’ve never known a better shot.

His leadership skills were always on display. He served on the TSTC Board of Regents from 1995 to 2007. He was appointed to two consecutive terms and was extended two more years to resolve some unfinished business.

Regent De la Garza served as TSTC chairman for several years. During the 30 years I was president of TSTC Harlingen I attended more than 150 board meetings at locations all over the state of Texas, including Waco, Amarillo, Sweetwater and Marshall. He ran those meetings with the precision of a skilled surgeon. He was a master at running a meeting.

Several of the buildings at TSTC Harlingen were approved during his tenure on the board. They include the Representative Rangel Science and Technology, Senator Lucio Health Science, Auto Collision Tech, Advanced Manufacturing, Service Support Center, Learning Resource Center, Health Science Tech Addition, Automotive Diesel Addition, Child Care Center, Field House Addition and the Cultural Arts Center.

Further, he was instrumental in the acquisition of 42 acres of land for the future growth and development of the campus. Through his board service, Chairman Connie participated in meaningful projects at TSTC campuses all around the state. Even after his board service ended I continued to refer to him as Mr. Chairman.

His contributions to the state of Texas and especially the city of Harlingen are considerable. Chairman De la Garza will be greatly missed.

J. Gilbert Leal, Ph.D.

President emeritus

TSTC Harlingen

No tax breaks for LNG plants

In the past the majority of political elected officials voted correctly in Laguna Vista, Port Isabel and Padre Island against liquefied natural gas. We want elected officials in Brownsville to vote no to the Texas LNG tax abatement as well as all those mentioned above.

Supporters of the abatement say it will bring jobs to our area. But what kind of jobs do we want here? I hope you agree that we want good jobs in healthy industries, not jobs in toxic industries that will make global warming worse, making our summers intolerably hot. Plus, it seems strange to give away an incentive after the project has already broken ground. Why do that?

Did you know Matamoros has a major wind energy manufacturer, and that the wind turbines they build are shipped to Europe from the Port of Brownsville? The new business park planned for the Port of Brownsville could become a hub for clean energy and other high tech industries. That’s what we should be encouraging with tax abatements, not dirty industries like LNG.

Please work on ways to create jobs in industries that will be healthy for our future. And don’t give a tax abatement to a company that would be one of the worst polluters in the entire Valley.

Yolanda Garza Birdwell

Laguna Vista

Editor’s note: We welcome your letters and commentary. Submissions must include the writer’s full name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. Letters of 200 words or fewer will be given preference. Submissions may be edited for length, grammar and clarity. Letters may be mailed to P.O Box 3267, McAllen, Texas 78502-3267, or emailed to [email protected].