Second part, Texas: a fleeting glance

photo VD: Alberto Barrera.
By Alberto Barrera

Between joyful and fun family gatherings we got to know a little about the extensive geography of Dallas and its surroundings; In addition, events that have marked the history of the United States such as the near extermination of native peoples, the worrying racism or unsolved crime of President John F. Kennedy en 1963. It was a hectic week in which we saw and learned from Texas.

Texas Prairies. photo VD: Brenda Barrera and Manfredo Rivas.

Royse City - On the horizon, plains of agricultural vocation transformed by the construction of modern and spacious houses in which its inhabitants are between the rural and the urban. Seeing or hearing the neighbors is not easy due to the extensive grounds that each residence has, which causes stillness that takes us away from the noise and disturbing political hubbub.

The area is in Hackberry on the outskirts of Royse City, a small town of about 13,000 population, part of Rockwall County northeast of Dallas, city ​​in which they live more than 1,3 million people and is the third most populous in Texas after Houston and San Antonio, both south of texas.

When we traveled by land from Houston to the northeast of Dallas I observed extensive plains in that rich state and I fantasized about thousands of warriors from the tribes that populated it riding commanded by brave chieftains like Quanah Parker, comanche chief - warriors, nomadic hunters and farmers-, or the feared Apache leader Gerónimo who was the terror of the southern United States and northern Mexico.

"The lords of the plains" made up the Comanche tribe that were hostile against the Spanish occupiers, Mexicans and cowboys between 1820 Y 1875, when they surrendered to government troops and were taken to a reservation at Fort Still, Oklahoma.

Imaginé a Cochise, who preceded Geronimo as head of the Apaches, And the one I met in old cowboy movies where they were always bad Indians, mistake I had for old film productions.

Según Kelli Fuqua, on the site, in Texas there were some 20 tribes including the Kiowa, buffalo hunters who used bows and arrows or the Cheroquee who learned to make and use metal tools, European-style clothes and houses before these arrived in the area in the early 1700.

Photo: Courtesy, image of indigenous Comanches or Apaches.

With that historical curtain on the original settlers of the extensive area and who were almost exterminated since in 1497, only five years after the arrival of Christopher Columbus to lands in the American Caribbean, John Cabot came to Newfoundland on a mission commissioned by the Kingdom of England.

In family

Our first night at Hackberry, named for a river that runs through it, We thoroughly enjoyed it for meeting the family and for the long-awaited rest due to the long trip not only for the three hours of the flight from San Salvador to Houston or the three hours 30 minutes on the interstate 45, but for everything added on roads and air terminals.

photo VD: Alberto Barrera.

At dawn a furtive glance around the spacious house, in front of the garage, which is on the left side, a huge field where they sow grain and in front of it another house. A ditch of rainwater on both sides of the street is a refuge for crabs that here are called "crabfish" or river crab, but they are more similar to what we call "prawns" and that were fun for children and adults, next to ducks that occasionally swim in the water or walk down the street.

Video: Marta Amaya, Luis Alberto López edition.

And soon we were reuniting with relatives and descendants, speaking Spanish, others in English and some in "Spanglish", sharing food, memories and the occasional cold beer to cheer up the spirit and in case the heat returned, because in those days it almost disappeared.

But in the memory of the relatives the recent historical snowfall that in mid-February caused some 20 dead in the state, Millions were without power and activities in Texas were paralyzed, in the central and southern United States.

In that appeared the dear friend Oscar Sandoval, known as "el Chino", who took advantage that he was close (like 200 miles) and with his huge trailer he arrived to share with his characteristic joy. He says that we are his adoptive parents because we knew him since his adolescence in San Salvador and he was well received in those difficult years.

In the feast there was no lack of laughter for jokes, anecdotes and memories that came to the rhythm of music, food and drink. Pupusas and the "discada", a combination of chunky beef and pork with sausage and split chorizo, they were a delight made by family friend Armando, who in a special round metal container with a protrusion in which he placed the cooked meat to keep it warm, while following the process for each of the meats. Then he stirred it and heated tortillas in the same fat to make Mexican-style tacos..

photo VD: Alberto Barrera
photo VD: Alberto Barrera.

In the days that followed we saw places like The Harbor Rockwall on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard, a modern shopping complex with gastronomic sites, warehouses and movie theaters, así como caminatas por senderos de cemento hasta un faro rodeado de estacionamiento de lanchas y veleros. Comimos en Gloria´suno de los restaurantes de la cadena fundada por una salvadoreña que en menú de comida internacional incluyen pupusas.

photo VD: Manfredo Rivas

A media semana nos inyectaron la vacuna Johnson & Johnson para combatir la pandemia del Coronavirus. Eso fue después de una mañana entre flores y árboles en el Jardín Botánico y Arboretum de Dallas en las afueras de la moderna ciudad y a orillas del White Rock Lake. Lo más divertido para el curioso Gabriel, mi nieto de casi 8 years, fue ver ardillas que jugueteaban por todos lados, y reía al fingir perderse en medio de colorida vegetación y árboles.

photo VD: Alberto Barrera

De realidades, racismo y Kennedy

After a day's break from pain in the injected arm, the tours and the party continued. We travel the streets, avenues of cities and we visit places where we almost always look for something to eat. And in the house the relatives treated us very affectionately.

Every morning and most of the day the chirping of birds brightened the atmosphere, mostly the little red cardinal singers that ran from trees to bushes in the yard. Manfredo recreated while using his work laptop.

And with spring in its early days we saw small flowering fields of Bluebonnets in the surroundings., the state flower of texas. They have a beautiful bright blue color and white tips on their petals., que de silvestres pasaron a cultivarse en grandes parcelas.

En las reuniones que se repitieron cada noche conversamos sobre realidades y un tema obvio fue El Salvador, cuyo gobierno anima a algunos a creer que por fin llegará el cambio prometido, esperado largamente después del fin a la guerra hace ya casi 30 years. Fuimos cautos y dijimos que hay que esperar más tiempo, para no contradecir lo que piensan por las promesas hechas luego del descalabro y corrupción de regímenes anteriores de derecha e izquierda.

photo VD: Alberto Barrera.

Después de las abruptas decisiones de la Asamblea Legislativa, dominada por el partido oficial, que despidió a magistrados de la Corte Suprema de Justicia y al Fiscal General, the political environment changed due to the signs of authoritarianism shown by the administration of President Nayib Bukele. That generated a wave of national and international criticism..

We also talk about the difficulties that migrants face but that despite that many Salvadorans continue to take risks, Although they do not always manage to arrive and live in this country as others have done., some have resided for more than 30 years.

In addition to the current economic and political difficulties, some do not forget the racism that occurs in many parts of the country, although they have no complaints unless they have been discriminated against. In that place where they reside, the majority are white, but when they pass in their cars many greet with kindness.

Racism, history of injustices

Our migrants understand the difficulties many people face due to the long history of racism., mainly against black people who since the beginning of 1600 a contingent of slaves came to Jamestown, Virginia, a British settlement for its excessive and cruel exploitation. White racism is suffered by African Americans, asian, Latinos and other races or communities.

The murder in May 2020 by George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota by four police officers generated a wave of protests amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He was outraged that the security agents subjected the middle-aged man with excessive force and one of them placed his knee, suffocating him, while saying I couldn't breathe. The news invaded the headlines of the media in the United States and the world.

The existence of more than 1,000 Hate groups across the country is proof of how difficult it has been to eradicate discrimination, the one that has cost a lot of blood and pain.

Of these groups there is one from the KKK (Ku Kux Klan) in Quinlan, a small town of little more than 1,500 inhabitants to about 15 miles east of Royse City, but in addition to the interview that one of its members gave not long ago to a Hispanic television channel, nothing is known here of the violent activity they tout about white supremacy.

Según Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization dedicated to legal defense and civil rights, in the whole country there 1,020 grupos de odio activos, including 73 en Texas,  entre los cuales Caballeros Rebeldes de Texas del KKK en Quinlan y al menos cuatro o cinco de diferente denominación en Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston y San Antonio.

La lista fue compilada por Mary Claire Patton, periodista de KSAT 12 (, quien monitoreó “publicaciones y sitios web de grupos de odio, informes ciudadanos y policiales, fuentes de campo e informes de noticias desde 2015”. Patton ha publicado historias de alto perfil relacionadas a hechos en San Antonio y en el estado de Texas.

Kennedy: un crimen sin resolver

Y de Manfredo surgió la idea de visitar el centro de la ciudad de Dallas para ver el sitio en donde el 22 November 1963 fue asesinado el presidente John F. Kennedy. I had 45 years and his unsolved crime occurred when the internal and world situation was very difficult.

In those previous years and months, racial segregation increased, The Cold War continued, which faced the two powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, which was more involved in the Vietnam War.; The protests grew and more than a year before his death he faced the missile crisis in Cuba, island that his government encouraged in April 1961 the unsuccessful invasion known as the Bay of Pigs. The young and charismatic president of Irish descent had no easy task.

photo VD: Brenda barrera.

And that saturday 1 In May we went to Dealey Plaza where we saw the old Book Depository building, from which three shots were fired from its sixth floor when Kennedy with his wife Jackie and the Governor of Texas, John Connally, They drove in a luxury convertible Lincoln on Elm Street.

Authorities soon said the perpetrator was Lee Harvey Oswald, a deserting ex-marine who was arrested just over an hour later in a movie theater in the city, but he was never tried because two days later Jack Ruby shot him dead in front of the police and many journalists captured the scene. A mafia-style movie crime.

It was my first time on the scene of the murder which the FBI has not yet solved, the CIA, Congressional committees, specialized researchers, books and essays have been written; Films or documentaries have been made that leave doubts or even assure that it was a plot in which Castro's Cuba was involved., the CIA with Cuban exiles, the mafias and others.

But there is still nothing certain in almost 320,000 documents that have more than 5,0 million words, that in a 88 percent are free from public access, a 11 percent restricted and only one 1 percent inaccessible, according to the official site 

We toured Dealey Square, We passed over the sidewalk of Houston Street and crossed Elm Street, the same ones that the presidential Lincoln toured. On the descent of that street towards a tunnel an X marks the place where Kennedy was shot, one pierced his chest and another smashed his brain.

photo VD: Brenda barrera.

In 1979 a House Committee found that they fired four shots at the president and perhaps two shooters, which presumes a conspiracy but there were never conclusions. It's the best kept secret in this nation.

In the place many curious tourists, and we, we saw the pale reddish seven-story building, We looked up to the sixth floor from where Oswald fired his rifle and we observed the place marked on the pavement where the bullets hit Kennedy to death..

Some wandered in search of the unwary to tell stories or sell supposed publications of that date almost 58 years. We seek to enter the building to visit the museum on the sixth floor and look for a bathroom., but there was no access and in a hurry we went to the next block where for the purchase of some product, we bought three ice creams for Daniella, Manfredo - about his father- and for me, so they gave us the key to the lock and be able to use the services.

Before visiting the place of misfortune for Kennedy, we went to Pioneer Square, which the tourist promotion identifies as "a focal point with historical importance" because it is a tribute to the beginning of the trails of the first settlers., without the natives of the original tribes. Native trees and plants, with a small stream they recreate the passage of longhorn steers sculpted in bronze and directed by three cowboys on horseback.

photo VD: Alberto Barrera

Our farewell was two days before because we traveled to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon and the reason was because on Saturday we were invited along with the family to participate in the party of 15 Sara's years, a niece of Roberto -our friendly and cheerful host with his wife Martita-, in which dozens of compatriots came to the celebration. It was a sample of how our culture has mixed with the local and that of Mexico.

We witnessed the happiness of our migrant brothers at the pompous feast where we ate and drank, We witnessed the emotional act of the birthday girl's relatives and the special dance prepared by the young companions of the honored. Nothing better to say see you soon.

photo VD: Manfredo Rivas.