FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2023
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** MEDIA ADVISORY **
U.S. BORDER COMMUNITY MEMBERS DENOUNCE GOV. ABBOTT’S RIVER PLANS
Eagle Pass Residents Demand Halt to Installation of Destructive Buoy System in the Rio Grande
EAGLE PASS, TX – On Friday morning, the Eagle Pass Border Coalition will host a press conference at downtown Shelby Park with supporters from Laredo and other surrounding communities to reject Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s plans to install a massive buoy system in the Rio Grande, and demand better solutions from Austin for South Texas border communities.
The press conference will be held in collaboration with the Eagle Pass Border Coalition, No Border Wall Laredo Coalition, and national human and civil rights organization Presente.org to mark this historic moment of civic action by residents of this growing border town, pop. 30,000.
Eagle Pass has recently become the target of political extremists in Austin. In the past three weeks, residents no longer have access to a public boat ramp from Shelby Park, and city officials have bulldozed a pristine river island next to the park to serve as a staging ground for Abbott’s buoy installation plans.
“What kind of American city do we live in, where we pay the same taxes, follow the same rules and yet we don’t get the same protections and rights to due process as the rest of the country?” asked Robie Flores, Eagle Pass journalist and filmmaker.
“Our elected officials should not be allowing this to happen. This isn’t a partisan issue, this is an environmental issue and this is about living in a city where outsiders are learning that they can come in and decide what to do with our home and believe that no one will speak up,” Flores added. “But that stops now. If we don’t speak up, what else will they take away? What other space will they say we can’t access anymore? What other natural landscape will they alter?”
Adriana Martinez, PhD, an Eagle Pass native and fluvial geomorphologist who studies rivers and has written about impacts to the Rio Grande by border wall construction, described why she is concerned about the latest political scheme out of Austin that is threatening her border town.
“The buoys are yet another attempt at the militarization of our border that negatively impacts the river,” she said.
“Like the federal and container fence, these buoys will change the way water flows and therefore change the river channel itself. This could cause habitat in and around the river to change and if these buoys become detached they will cause damage to downstream bridges and dams,” Martinez added. “When we change the way this river flows we not only change that on the U.S. side, but on the Mexican side as well. We have no idea how changes here will affect how the river acts downstream. These changes could have far reaching impacts for a long time.”
*Martinez Discusses River Impacts with Eagle Pass Business Journal LINK HERE (8:29)
Karyme Flores, a second year college student, decried the recent move by Austin: “I was born and raised in Eagle Pass, so the river has become a big part of my identity and life. Closing Shelby Park and removing natural islands is not environmentally sound. It hurts the rich culture of our border community.”
Alex Flores (no relation to Karyme), Eagle Pass filmmaker, agreed: “We need to know what permission the state government has obtained to demolish an island that alters the ecosystem and flow of the river. What studies were made to measure the environmental impact, or to demonstrate that these efforts diminish border crossings? They are operating with no regard for the community impact or laws that protect our environment.”
Jessie Fuentes, a retired educator and active kayaking outfitter on the Rio Grande, weighed in further: “The Rio Grande is a federally protected wild and scenic river. We as beneficiaries of this life-sustaining water source that this river provides for us, must protect it, and respect it!”
Tricia Cortez, No Border Wall Laredo Coalition co-founder, agreed: “The history of South Texas is intimately tied to the river, its vega lands and the people who live on that land. It’s a history fraught with violence, exploitation, and disenfranchisement by the ‘powers that be’ and that chapter, well, it’s over. We’re writing our own chapter now, and deserve far better from politicians in Austin.”
Robie Flores, the filmmaker, weighed in further: “It’s not too late for our elected city officials to take a stand for our land and protect the river that gives so much to us. Nothing that’s for us should be decided without us,” Flores said. “These outsider politicians come in for their photo shoots and make a big fuss and leave us with the bad narrative. We can’t be pawns in their games because they come in and leave us with a home that’s no longer ours, where we now have to ask permission to go places we didn’t need to before. Their fear-mongering hurts our local businesses and any possible tourism we’d ever have.”
WHO: Eagle Pass Border Coalition
WHERE: Shelby Park, Eagle Pass
WHEN: Friday, July 7 at 9:30 am
Presente.org is the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group — and the nation’s premier Latinx digital organizing hub — advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Presente.org’s mission is to advance Latinx power and create winning campaigns that amplify Latinx voices; expand the political imagination and traditional boundaries; and foster inspiration for freedom, equity, and justice.
The Eagle Pass Border Coalition is a group of community organizers that are working to empower our community to lift our voice, protect our culture and become ambassadors of our fronterizo identity. We’re fighting to be the ones that get to tell our own story.
IG – @epbordercoalition | email@example.com