The work of LUPE members in colonias North of Alton has borne fruit once again this week. As a result of a petition that colonia residents delivered to the county, Precinct 3 has paved the main street entering and leaving colonia Mi Sueño, located off of Mile 9 and Moorefiled Road.
It is the third major pavement project resulting from work organized by LUPE members in the cluster of colonias north of 7 mile line, which includes Buena Vida, Buena Fe, Mi Suerte, Mi Sueño, Joshua, Eduardos II, Quality, and Serenidad. In addition to the entrance to Mi Sueño, LUPE leaders motivated the county to pave the main roads entering colonias Buena Suerte and Serenidad in preceding months.
“Now we need public lighting,” says Serenidad leader Rosi Salinas. Despite having passed two state laws in 2005 and 2007 authorizing counties to distribute public funds for streetlights in colonias and authorizing the county to collect taxes to pay for their operation, only a small number of the more than one thousand Hidalgo County colonias have public lights.
“We already started to gather signatures to deliver to Precinct 3 showing that residents are willing to pay taxes for them. Let’s see if that makes them hurry up and do it.”
Colonia leaders were able to share their victory with visitor Erualdo Gonzalez, representing the Communities Creating Healthy Environments initiative of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. The Foundation has granted LUPE funds to aid organizing tackling the systemic causes of childhood obesity.
LUPE Organizing Coordinator Martha Sanchez said, “South Texas has some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems due to poverty and disparities in access to healthy foods and exercise options in the colonias. We are working toward streetlights, parks, and walking trails in the colonias, as well as nutritional school meals for children to reverse the obesity epidemic.”
Precinct 3 is starting to take note of area organizing. The precinct has begun to install the first round of public lights and Precinct 3 Chief Administrator to the Commissioner Dr. Mona Ramirez Parras has confirmed that several colonias in the Alton area have been put on the list. The installation has started at Pueblo de Palmas Park with two lights. Also on the list to receive lights are Buena Vida, Eduardo II, Mi Sueño, La Homa Meadows and El Flaco.
“We know that we’ve had progress in our plan because we’ve had agreement among us to work together under the coordination of LUPE,” said Mi Sueño leader Silvia Ruiz. “We’re here organized with LUPE to make a positive change for our families and our community.”
With each victory, colonia residents are learning what our founder Cesar Chavez realized many years ago: “That the only answer—the only hope—[is] in organizing.”