As I posted yesterday, many readers are concerned about two specific topics. The first is that I have been blogging about Donald Trump. The second is that some readers feel like I have been ignoring the arena issue. Yesterday I addressed the Donald Trump controversy. Today, I’d like to address the proposed arena.

Yes, I am aware of the controversies surrounding the arena. No, I am not ignoring them. The fact is that the arena has been in the works since at least 2012 when El Paso voters voted on the Quality of Life projects. The $180 million arena or, technically, the Multipurpose Cultural and Performing Arts Facility is part of the redevelopment of downtown that the El Paso leadership embarked upon many years ago, as far back as the Caballero administration.

In the case of the arena, the taxpayers voted to tax themselves for the arena. This is a fact that cannot be ignored. The issues lie in the processes, like always, and the obvious targeting of the disfranchised populations for the benefit of the community’s elite.

This is the bottom line; the Quality of Life projects are not for the citywide population but for a specific demographic that votes themselves additional taxes at the expense of the non-voters. I have dubbed this the “De-Mexicanization” of El Paso. {link}  It started with the infamous Glass Beach study {link} and continues today through the latest scam; the arena.

You need not look further than two inconvenient facts – the fact that an “investor” approached the City about property they want to sell to the City for the arena, and the fact that eminent domain is now on the table. Eminent domain targets a specific demographic. It is seldom used, as in never in the case of El Paso, against well-to-do voters that live off higher incomes. That is the key – the so-called voters do not suffer the consequences of building play grounds for the elite of the city.

Eminent domain is not new in the case of downtown redevelopment. Raymond Caballero tried it in early 2000. It was part of his plan to make El Paso like other cities. Caballero launched the “De-Mexicanization” effort through the TIF districts {link} he tried to implement it around Segundo Barrio. He was helped by Susie Byrd, Veronica Escobar and Beto O’Rourke, among others.

They, all of them, created the Glass Beach study and it has been the template from that moment on – regardless of what they all tell you today. Every time downtown redevelopment comes up the notion is to redevelop El Paso into another city. San Antonio, Austin or Santa Fe are touted as what El Paso should be.

But there is one impediment to the redeveloped El Paso – the “grittiness” of the Segundo Barrio and its people. I call it the “De-Mexicanization” of El Paso. Thus, you have eminent domain and the development projects that target the specific demographic that the Glass Beach study argued was detrimental to El Paso’s future.

Unlike the TIF Districts, which had strong advocates in the Segundo Barrio community – who rose up to challenge the attempts to take their homes – the current targeted homes are not ready or willing to get “down and dirty” to fight for their homes. The TIF districts were defeated because the home owners fought for their rights. There are not many individuals left in El Paso to oppose the status-quo since most of them have been run out of the city, like me, or have been forced into the shadows under the threat of criminal prosecution.

They’ve been silenced through intimidation. Additionally, the “De-Mexicanization” enablers have learned from their mistakes. Notice how the “vote” to build the arena in the pre-determined location was announced and quickly voted on? It was to limit your ability to throw a wrench into the plans by asking tough questions.

So, in answer to the questions by many of you as to why I’m not writing about this latest controversy; it is because I’ve already written about many times before. The TIF districts, the San Jacinto Plaza the controversy about the Mexican-American Center are topics I’ve written extensively about. They all point to the “De-Mexicanization” of El Paso that is the cornerstone of the Glass Beach study that is still very much driving El Paso “renaissance” today.

Unfortunately, it all comes down to the voters, those who do not vote and thus are targeted by those that do. If you don’t believe me just look at the upcoming city elections. In May, the city’s voters are going to be voting for a new mayor, among other elected offices. Emma Acosta has already said she is running. Cortney Niland is keeping you all in suspense but most of us know that she will likely run. Either of these elected officials have a good chance at being elected because by May their votes to take property away would have been buried in political noise. Those that lost their land or are paying taxes they wish they weren’t paying for others’ playgrounds will likely not take the time to vote to keep both out of the mayor’s office.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

9 replies on “The El Paso Arena and Why Have Waited So Long to Write About It”

  1. Isn’t that odd, these same people want to de-mexicanize the downtown area but expend a lot of effort to get Mexicans to stay and live in El Paso. Schizo ! What ever happen to “we are one and the city”, “a city with two mayors” and the corruption of the “Sister city” program. So after all that we are ashamed of the Mexican influence ? Hate the idea of a fence and having a border with a controlled entrance ? Open borders would ensure everyone with brown skin wanting to enter the US without documents would claim to be Mexican. With mass uncontrolled immigration, El Paso WOULD be a Mexican town. So what is the real plan here ?

    Other the other hand that would explain the push to build the “Mexican” museum. Do they know something we don’t ? Are Mexicans going to become extinct in El Paso ?

    The other idiocy is that they El Paso to become a tourist attraction. LOL, so some family is going to travel El Paso to see a city that looks like the one they just left ? The only draw would be the Segundo Barrio which would be like a Little Italy or China town. You can say all you want about Juarez being safe and how you go there for food and beer. In the meantime, the people in Juarez are dropping like flies. Spin the facts all you want, I and others do not want to be found face down in a gutter.

  2. Martin
    De-Mexicanization” this is total non-sense! City of El Paso is bankrupt building this arena is stupid and will never pay for it’s self in 100 years. Martin this kind of thinking is one of the reason my house hold is leaving El Paso before the end of this year. So your thinking is let El Paso become like Mexico. Yep we see how that is working out so well for Mexico. Martin you are always claiming how great Mexico is , what a paradise, but won’t live there yourself. Speaks volumes! Martin most of us do understand why you do not live in Mexico.If you jumped up and down in Mexico about government, Mexico’s leadership and it’s leading citizens as you do here in America you would be, in jail, dead or missing. You hate the people and the system that has given you the freedom to do what you do but want the system like in Mexico to come to America which would repress and oppress you. Clearly on this you have lost the ability of critical thinking. Then again maybe you do want to be repressed and oppressed subconsciously!
    In closing all we can say to others if you have the ability to leave El Paso suggest you do so with in the next 8 months to a year, if you do not you are going to wish really hard you had.

    1. I know a person who left El Paso for the same reasons you are – sick of the corruption and seeing their taxes go to Paul and Woody and the DTEP mafia. This individual was PhD level, too, and worked a school district here.

      Of course, El Paso doesn’t need PhDs when it has Salvadorans, Mexicans, Cubans and Hondurans streaming across the border for the Obama-Clinton free ride.

  3. Martin,

    How can the arena be part of a plan to de-Mexicanize El Paso when, as stated by the city attorney in her presentation, the arena will be located close enough to the bridge for Mexican nationals to get to it easily? Believe me, if the arena is going to succeed it will do so by selling tickets to people from Juarez. I’m opposed to the arena and its dictated location, but there’s no way anything downtown can succeed without Juarez and the City knowns that.

  4. Thomas makes a interesting comment. I too have pondered Martin’s prospective and Mexico. Being mixed its why i had to fly to Chile to see Allende’s grave and the [National Staduim where Pinochet had thousands shot]. Then digest USA role in the Coup.

    Anyways back to the empty promise of build it [the Arena] and they will come. If the Bonds can not be called or amended or repealed then my thought is the only good place for the elephant in the room is the rail yard at the El Paso street-Santa Fe downtown bridge and working with ICE and Homeland Security to make it a shared Arena with El Paso’s Sister City ie Mexican Nationals will freely flow into and out of the events Mexico way and USA Nationals in [after hand stamp in or bracelet] but only those returning USA way after event will be quickey checked by ICE for hand stamp or bracelet or rfid quick flow scan.

    Something like that, otherwise its doomed from the start.

  5. To For Martin and a reply to Carl
    Mexico is the 5th deadliest country for Journalist in the world for 2016. Guess this is the America’s fault? Oh go and do some research how many activist and bloggers have been killed or are missing for speaking out against the government,the ruling families of Mexico and the Cartels just for 2016. Carl do you really believe Martin could be this out spoken in Mexico as he is in America and he wouldn’t be in grave danger?
    Nope not claiming America’s foreign policies in the Americas has been the best but also in all cases you had a ruling factions with in these country helping to further American policies. That like going to a dance with some one and blame the person that took you to the dance for you being at the dance.
    In addition if the U.S. steps back from Central and South America are you saying you would rather have the heavy hand of China and Russia in controls of these countries which would be what would have happened and is still trying to take place now. Oh and if the U.S became total isolationist and stop supporting many of these countries the out cry would be never ending. Just go and do research how much economic aid many of these countries get from America even some that hate us out right. That is not including other forms of aid that come from the U.S.. Yep America is the monster and the boogie man of the poor and down trodden peoples of the Americas of course until they want our help ,support and aid then we are no that bad.

  6. Segundo is the only part of DTEP worth saving in my opinion. It is literally the heart and soul of the city and only needs a little spruce-up with the streets and lights, just like they did for the Union Plaza district. The city could contract with La Fe to help more street food vendors start up, too. Is it legal to have a margarita truck on the street? Ahhh…I can imagine savoring Yvonne’s Pink Store margaritas (best on the border) from a Pink Store cart on hot June afternoon 🙂

    You’d even get my gringo butt down there for that!

  7. Thomas, I dont disagree with you, but was just trying to understand Martin. Chile was the worlds first freely elected socialist government in 1970 and never any threat to Nixon or USA. In fact in some odd way what Allende did do those 3 short years set things up so that Pinochet in his long years in power did help the Chilean economy and today Chile has a woman President who is a member of the Chilean Socialist Party! And Chile exceeds well even their Justice system today.

    But back to the Arena i wonder if anyone has considered my idea above? I think even the Arena if on USA Border could be halfed ie one side Mexican Nationals and other side USA Nationals eg to deal with security and easy access for public etc.
    For events Mexico Nationals would use the West side of bridge walkway only for Arena events. etc etc

    Nevertheless issue needs legal research on if the Bonds can be called, amended or repealed.

  8. Carl – Your idea is interesting. Bureaucratic obstacles aside, rail yards need expensive hazardous cleanup.

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