Donna lakes, photo by Brooke Lyssy

The Five Scariest Places in South Texas

The Five Scariest Places in South Texas

1.)The Donna Texas reservoir and canal

Donna lakes, photo by Brooke Lyssy
Donna lakes, photo by Brooke Lyssy

The fish at this reservoir that sits along the U.S.-Mexico border are contaminated with toxic chemicals and have been banned for human consumption. This doesn’t stop locals from fishing there and if you do happen to visit our little part of South Texas, you might find folks gearing up to catch the carp, catfish and tasty tilapia along with the twenty or so other odd deformed fish for meals. And I don’t fault them since we do live in one of the poorest districts in the nation. And with a minimum wage of $7.25 the poor in South Texas are only getting poorer. Cuts to federal programs means less money to families who need it. Creative ways to get food and meals on the table involve fishing at local canals and growing whatever you can in your backyard, front yard, coffee cans or hanging pots.  This site has been listed as a Superfund site by the EPA, but contrary to what it sounds like, they won’t be receiving funds anytime soon. Being a superfund site is just a designation that the EPA assigns to locations that need a long-term response to hazardous material contaminations. No one is holding their breathe on that one.

2.) Pesticide processing Plant in Mission, TX

An old green processing plant looks like the perfect place to take your dystopian flavored photos. Old and weathered with green crumbling paint, at one time this was the largest pesticide processing plant of our very own South Texas. Poisonous dust and fumes were blown into nearby neighborhoods, where residents complained of rashes, coughs and open sores that didn’t heal. It closed down in 1972.  Locals complained about  the mysterious rashes that appeared and thick poisonous gas as early as 1961. The EPA wouldn’t look into the situation until 1980. In 1987 it became one of the first sites added to the previously mentioned Superfund register. Dozens upon dozens of families were affected. I have seen the photos of children and adults with malformation, tumors, abscesses due to this contamination. It has stayed with me for years. Where is our movie?

3.)Corruption on the Rio Grande

Mexico and Texas, Brownsville

NPR recently did a story on how the corruption in the local Rio Grande government and law enforcement runs rampant. When one task force is sent to prison for fraud or corruption, another one takes its place. Some blame the Gulf Cartel in nearby Matamoros.  Some blame tradition and temptation and the complexity of border cities with bicultural influences.  The scary part is when the locals want justice, they know it comes with the stipulation that corruption is just a thing we have to expect. Case in point: when local police officers are accused of rape or domestic violence, and other cops on the force not only cover it up but stand idly by. As.rape.happens. Anyone who tries to change the system is arrested or scrutinized. The local media doesn’t help.

4. )Uterus, TX

photo by Adam Fagan, flickr.
photo by Adam Fagan, flickr. If I make my uterus a corporation, will you stop regulating it?

No Uterus is not a city in South Texas, or any part of Texas as far as Google could tell me, though we do have a Cactus and Quemado (burned) and I have been to both. But the scary fact that having a uterus in South Texas means you are less likely to receive accessible reproductive care if you are a poor person. If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, you already live in one of the poorest counties in Texas. Statewide abortion clinic closures means that wait times for abortions increases which means the pregnancy moves along, further creating dangerous circumstances for the person, not to mention the financial burden increases (lost wages, hotel stays, gas money). Not to mention if you are undocumented, you risk deportation or detention by crossing the checkpoints on your way out of the Rio Grande Valley.  It’s easier to get a gun in South Texas than getting an abortion. There is no waiting period to get a gun, you have to wait on average 10 days to get an abortion in Texas. If you are seeking an abortion or regular old healthcare in South Texas, you are basically SOL. Texas cares about the unborn as long as the unborn is safely inside the body of its host. Once born, and especially if you are a person of color, undocumented and poor, the state wants nothing but to deem you a failure, take your child away and shame/blame you for being a burden to society. Go Texas and them boot straps.

5.) The Wall

photo by dawn paley, flickr. the border wall, from the mexican side, where Mexico, New Mexico and Texas meet.
photo by dawn paley, flickr. the border wall, from the mexican side, where Mexico, New Mexico and Texas meet.

There is nothing scarier than the dystopian ginormous wall erected to keep the bad elements out, deter “bad hombres” and to protect the chosen (the chosen do not include women of color and poor disabled folks though).  We are not talking about the undead or vampires.  Like a tombstone, the Mexico-United States border wall currently is 649 miles of fencing that cost approximately $3 million per mile that doesn’t actually stop undocumented terrorists (sic) from illegally crossing. It is, for those of us from South Texas, a testament to the scar that runs along the border area that labels “el otro lado” a lost cause, a land of disease and violence, a wound that will never heal. It divides many from our home lands and reminds us that there are people willing to funnel money into dividing walls but not into programs for the care of uterine walls. Further, it is a standing monument to how the United States views the countries in Latin America since there is no border wall en el norte.




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admin & queen at Hermana Resist Press
Noemi is a sirena, poet-curandera living in South Texas. A writer, cultural critic and historian, she enjoys paints, gesso, tattoos and eating.

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