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Latinos Divided Over Texas Redistricting Agreement

Henry Cuellar

First Posted: 03/ 8/2012 5:36 pm Updated: 03/10/2012 9:25 am

The recent agreement reached between Democrats and Republicans over the Texas redistricting process broke an impasse that already caused postponing the primaries in that state twice.

The months-long debate leading to a federal court in San Antonio releasing new electoral maps, also created havoc among election officials in charge of redrawing precints as well as in both parties campaigns over the short time they have before the presidential elections to organize conventions.

As The Austin Chronicle lamented in “Welcome to the circus”, it can “squeeze a year's worth of primary and general election campaigning into less than eight months.”

But the end of a turbulent period of political bickering could have also left a scar among Latino groups and politicians.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who has represented Laredo since 2004, was being attacked by fellow Hispanics for giving up too much in the discussions that led to the agreement that created two new Republican districts along with two Latino districts.

Latinos account for 65% of the population growth in Texas between 2000 and 2010 and are 37.6% of the state population.

Matt Angle with the Lone Star Project, an organization politically aligned with the Democratic Party, said in a statement that Cuellar “has a long history of betraying Latino voters and his constituents to appease high-level Republicans,” and Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who heads the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, told AOL Latino that the agreement “failed to recognize the growth of minorities in Texas."

According to the Chronicle, Cuellar said “1.3 million Hispanics in Dallas would have been screwed if I would have kept my mouth shut” and not support the agreement, adding that “for the first time in the history of Texas politics we created two Hispanic seats,” and that “I was the only one to stand up for Hispanics and I got attacked for it.”

Cuellar has been known over the years as reaching across the aisle toward Republicans. He was Secretary of state under current governor Rick Perry, and in 2000 endorsed republican George W. Bush over Al Gore.

The agreement has still to be approved by a D.C. federal court “charged with reviewing the maps for compliance with the Voting Rights Act”.

Should it reject the maps, "all those election plans could go right back to the drawing board.”

Primaries for Texas were set for May 29th.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that MALDEF – the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a major civil-rights organization, opposed the agreement. MALDEF is the lawyer for the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, a coalition of the statewide Latino advocacy organizations in Texas, which supported the creation of the two additional Latino majority congressional districts.


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Filed by Gabriel Lerner  |