Greg Abbott Still Cannot Defend Rio Grande Valley 'Third World' Remarks

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Photo credit: Gabe Hernandez — The Monitor

In his 12th stop to the Rio Grande Valley, Attorney General Greg Abbott refused to clarify remarks made in February comparing the region to the “third world.”

Abbott was a guest speaker in the Newsmaker Breakfast Series presented by The Monitor — one of the largest newspapers in the Valley. Carlos Sanchez, executive editor, was there to lead the discussion and was not afraid to put Abbott on the spot, asking him to clarify his earlier remarks made about the border.  

Read what excuses Abbott tried to come up with below the jump.In February, while unveiling a policy plan that would further militarize our border communities, Abbott pictured the heavily Hispanic-populated region as some kind of foreign war-zone, creeping with corruption that threatened to ruin the rest of the state of Texas.

“This creeping corruption resembles third-world country practices that erode the social fabric of our communities and destroys Texans' trust and confidence in government,” Abbott said in February.

This is not true about law enforcement in the Valley. These remarks were simply Abbott's attempt to try to stir a xenophobic reaction from conservative voters that long for a justification to further militarize our border. Spending valuable resources that could otherwise go to create jobs and fund education and healthcare.  

The Monitor, along with South Texas police chiefs and elected officials, immediately demanded Abbott to issue an apology for his remarks. According to The Monitor, Latinos need to make it clear to Republicans that “we are tired of having Hispanics act as the bogeymen of Texas.”

“Did critics misinterpret your statements or did you misspeak?” Sanchez asked Abbott in person during the Newsmaker Breakfast Series event.

“I point out what I think everyone agrees with, and that is that corruption is bad. We don't want corruption; we want to root out corruption,” said Abbott, completely ignoring the question. Of course corruption is bad. No one is arguing otherwise.

Wrong answer. Try again.

“I think the concerns that were raised when you made those comments was the context of associating a border community with a third-world country. And I ask again: Did we misinterpret or did you misspeak?” pressed Sanchez, clearly not satisfied with Abbott's response.

“Well, what I said is that corruption  resembles third-world practices,” said Abbott, still avoiding answering what implications his remarks made. “If you wanted to write an article in your paper and say there's one candidate running for governor who will do all he can to root out corruption in the Rio Grande Valley and another candidate running for governor who is not committed at that same level, I would love the people in the Rio Grande Valley to vote upon that one issue alone.”

Again. Wrong answer.

For those unfamiliar with the Rio Grande Valley, it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination for Republicans to ignorantly depict it as belonging to “the third world.” The Valley is predominantly populated by Hispanics. It is one of the poorest regions in the country– with some of the lowest house-hold incomes and highest healthcare costs. Living in poverty-stricken colonias is still very much a reality for some folks in the region. Needless to say, it isn't easy to grow up in the Valley.

Republicans haven't exactly made it any easier since they've been in power. Not with refusing to expand Medicaid. Not with cutting education funds the same year Hispanic children became the largest ethnic group in Texas public schools. Certainly, not while trying to suppress the Latino vote through discriminatory voter ID laws.

For Abbott to say he knows he “will get the vote in the Rio Grande Valley;” either the man is very delusional or extremely arrogant.

About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. Omar is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. He tweets from @AraizaTX.

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