Rio Grande Guardian's Podcast

40 Episodes

By: Mario Muñoz

Official podcast for the Rio Grande Guardian, the first online newspaper to launch on the South Texas border, starting out in July, 2005. The Rio Grande Guardian has an excellent reputation for accurate and thorough news reporting, with a specialty for border business, legislative, political, healthcare, environment, and education issues.

A preview of the Rio Grande Guardian's "To Conquer, To Defend" conference: Part One
Today at 2:00 PM

PORT ISABEL, Texas - The Rio Grande Guardian’s upcoming one-day conference is titled “To Conquer. To Defend.”

The conference, which takes place Thursday, Dec. 9 in Port Isabel, Texas, commemorates the 175th Anniversary of the U.S.-Mexico War. 

The conference can be attended either in-person or virtually. To learn more about the conference and how to purchase tickets, click here.

In this podcast, Salomon Torres, the Rio Grande Guardian's Director of Event Initiatives, discusses the conference with members of the North Harlingen Rotary Club.

Mendez: State of Texas needs to invest more in Space Race, 2.0

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez says the State of Texas needs to make a stronger commitment to the Space race, 2.0.

If it does not it could get left behind by states like Florida, Colorado, and Alabama.

Mendez first made the call in an op-ed he jointly penned with Margaret Spellings, CEO and president of Texas 2036 and former Secretary of Education, retired Colonel Tim Kopra, vice president for robotics and space operations at MDA, and Maynard Holt, CEO of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

The op-ed appeared in the Houston Chronicle and...

Arseneau: Brownsville can become the Silicon Valley of the space industry

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS - NewSpace investor J. Brant Arseneau says there is no reason Brownsville, Texas, cannot become the Silicon Valley of the space industry.

“I would like to be the first finance person to be in Brownsville when this becomes the Silicon Valley of Space. We can say, hey, we went there, first,” Arseneau said.

Arseneau os founder of 9Point8 Capital, a group of companies that supports the space industry with end-to-end financial products. He spoke at a recent news conference held at the Brownsville Event Center. Other speakers included Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, and Hele...

O'Rourke: The border is the greatest opportunity that Texas has ever known

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS - Beto O’Rourke says that if elected governor of Texas he will invest heavily in infrastructure for border communities. 

In an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service about economic development, O’Rourke pointed out that the ports of entry through which US-Mexico trade passes support more than 600,000 jobs across the state of Texas.

“Very often Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, will talk about the border simply as a threat, a place where people are coming to get us from. They use words, as you have heard, like invasion. Governo...

Burkhart: Within the next 3 years, downtown Brownsville is going to look completely different

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Nathan Burkhart, director of small business development at the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, says exciting things are happening to his city’s downtown.

“Our big 2.0 grant just wrapped up its third round of funding. We have had about $18 million in private capital roll into downtown just from that grant. It was created with a generous donation from the Elon Musk Foundation,” Burkhart said.

“With that $2 million we have been able to attract, as I said, over $18 million into downtown. We are revitalizing a number of buildings along Washington Street and Elizabeth. We hope tha...

Edgar Delgadillo: Remembering construction of first Pharr Bridge span; planning for construction of second

PHARR, Texas - Colleagues like to brag on Pharr Bridge Director of Operations Fred Brouwen that he has been there from the beginning because he was operating the tolls when the first trucks crossed.

But, Pharr Bridge Board Chairman Edgar Delgadillo jokes that he can top that because he saw the bridge being built.

“I was there when my Dad was hauling dirt for the first part of the bridge. I remember sitting on top of the hill,” Delgadillo said, “I must have been 17, 18 years old. My Mom would make lunch for my Dad and the re...

An in-depth interview with Linda Battles, chancellor of WGU Texas

MCALLEN, Texas - The new chancellor of Western Governors University Texas has reaffirmed her institution’s “huge” commitment to South Texas.

Linda Battles, who was appointed a WGU regional vice president and chancellor of its Texas division in September, recently visited the Rio Grande Valley. 

During the visit she met with administrators from South Texas College and the chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Fred Farias, a Rio Grande Valley native. Producing more nurses and nursing faculty was a big part of those conversations.

For an exclusive interview with the Rio Gra...

Villarreal: We are excited our bridges have been reopened to Mexican travelers

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - There was excitement and relief among retail store and restaurant owners, chamber of commerce leaders and elected officials in South Texas on Monday as Mexican visa holders were finally allowed to revisit the region.

So-called “non-essential” travelers from Mexico had been unable to come into the United States since March 2020, a blockade installed in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, though, the U.S. and Mexican federal governments believe it is safe for travelers to cross, provided they can show proof they have had a Covid-19 vaccine. The bridges were...

Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.: A 'giant' of the Texas Legislature retires.

HARLINGEN, Texas - After 50 years of public service, 35 of them the in Texas Legislature, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., has announced his retirement.

In the company of family, friends and dignitaries from his across his district and Austin, Sen. Lucio, D-Brownsville, broke the news at his Harlingen district office. 

“Today I announced my retirement from the Texas Senate at the end of my current term,” Lucio said. “I am grateful for every person who has ever supported us, challenged us, and most importantly, fought alongside me for the benefit of Senate District 27. My office remains committ...

LUPE Votes: We want a candidate in CD 15 who will represent struggling people

MCALLEN, Texas - U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez says it would be a mistake for Democrats to choose a candidate outside the mainstream to run in Congressional District 15, the seat he is about to depart.

The voters of CD 15, which is anchored in Hidalgo County, have elected Democrats to Congress for decades. However, following redistricting, the boundary lines of the district have been redrawn by Republicans to favor Republicans. A bunch of counties to the north of the Rio Grande Valley have been added to the district to make it more GOP-friendly. Indeed, if the 2020 presidential election...

Everything that was said at the Texas A&M/Port of Brownsville news conference

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - John Sharp, chancellor for the Texas A&M University System, visited the Port of Brownsville recently to announce a new initiative to invigorate advanced manufacturing in the area.

The Texas A&M RGV Advanced Manufacturing/Training Innovation Now (TRAIN) program is designed to enhance the skills needed for workers wishing to find employment at the Port of Brownsville. 

The Texas AM Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) are heading up the initiative. In two years, through TRAIN, the two groups will award 10,000 certificates t...

Everything that was said at the opening of RNC's Hispanic Engagement Center in McAllen

MCALLEN, Texas - The co-chair of the National Republican Committee, Thomas “Tommy” Hicks, Jr., says the Republican Party has to do a better job of engaging with minority populations across the United States.

Hicks was in McAllen recently to officially open a new RNC Hispanic Engagement Center. The center, on Nolana Avenue in McAllen, was packed with Republican Party members and supporters for the opening. Food and refreshments were provided. 

“We want to share our values throughout this great nation. Today we are putting that commitment into action by opening our second community center in Texas...

The RGV has around 20 neurologists. To reach the national average ratio it needs about 50 more.

HARLINGEN, Texas - The Rio Grande Valley is far short of the national average for neurologists and the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine wants to do something about it. 

UTRGV SOM, along with its clinical arm, UT Health RGV, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday for its eagerly-awaited Institute of Neuroscience (ION). Medical students will be trained at the 30,000-square-foot facility in order to go into the specialist field of neuroscience. 

Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system.

In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International Ne...

Muñoz: Time to celebrate Port of Brownsville's 85th Anniversary

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Having visited the offices of the Port of Brownsville a few times over the years, I was always aware of a proud sense of Rio Grande Valley history when I looked at the photos and newspaper accounts displayed on the wall in the main office.

With our a doubt, the 85th Anniversary of the Port of Brownsville is a major news item in the Rio Grande Valley.

Referring to the Port of Brownsville, Port Director Eddie Campirano said: “We’re the only deep water port directly on the U.S.-Mexico border. And...

Cuellar: Reopening of bridges means border communities can have a great Christmas

LAREDO, Texas - U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar is predicting a great Christmas for border communities now that land ports of entry are being re-opened to tens of thousands of Mexican visa holders. 

Mexican nationals who do not work in so-called “essential” industries have been prevented from crossing via land ports into the United States since March 20 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Now, however, the international bridges between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada will be open to “non-essential” travelers from Nov. 8, provided they can prove they have been fully vaccinated...

Garcia: Vanguard Academy's College, Career & Military Readiness scores keep on improving

EDINBURG, Texas - Dr. Narciso Garcia, superintendent at Vanguard Academy, is pleased with the progress his charter school system has made in preparing students for collage, career and the military.

Collage, career and military readiness (CCMR) is part of the accountability process expected of school systems under House Bill 3.

In a recent podcast with the Rio Grande Guardian, Dr. Garcia pointed out that just a few short years ago Vanguard lagged behind neighboring school districts in this regard. But now, based upon data from the Texas Education Agency, Vanguard is often outperforming other school districts. 

Hernandez: Pharr International Bridge remains No. 1 Fresh Produce gateway in nation

PHARR, Texas - The start of the fresh produce season 2021-22 was celebrated at the Pharr International Bridge on Oct. 7.

Produce growers, importers, distributors, and consumers from the United States and Mexico were in attendance for the annual event.

The Pharr International Bridge is No. 1 in the nation for moving fresh produce. It averages 200,000 fresh produce shipments per year. It is No. 1 in the nation for the importation of pineapples and avocados. It is No. 2 in the nation for the importation of berries. And it is No. 3 in the nation for the importation of tomatoes.<...

Torres explains the work of the Texas Taxpayer Assistance Project

HARLINGEN, Texas - As a regular feature in the Rio Grande Guardian, audio editor Mario Muñoz talks to Rev Torres of the Texas Taxpayer Assistance Project.

The TTAP is part of the nonprofit community group Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

In this podcast, Torres explains what the TTAP is all about. Among the questions he answers are: what is the mission of TTAP; how do you qualify for assistance from TTAP; and how do you contact the nonprofit to get answers to tax-related issues. 

Groundbreaking ceremony for $303 million Pharr Interchange Project

PHARR, Texas - The City of Pharr, the Texas Department of Transportation, and Dragados-Pulice Joint Venture (DPJV) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, to celebrate the ongoing construction of the I-2/I-69C Interchange Project in Pharr.

The $303 million dollar project, which has been years in the making, will be eight miles long, consist of new connectors to expand the interchange and its capacity (four lanes in each direction), and will provide for enhanced safety and traffic flow. The three-year project is slated to be completed in the Fall of 2023.

Notable guests and dignitaries...

Cortez: RGV can benefit from container ships from Asia docking at Mexican ports

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez has outlined a way in which the Rio Grande Valley can benefit from the bottleneck faced by dozens of containers ships waiting to unload their cargo at Long Beach, California. 

Cortez has suggested the ships dock at Mexico’s west coast ports and transport shipments destined for the east coast of the United States via truck through the Valley.

Cortez explained his idea during a recent roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership and held at the Port of Bro...

Sen. Cornyn holds news conference at the Port of Brownsville

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - U.S. Sen. John Cornyn held a news conference at the Port of Brownsville on Sept. 16, 2021. The attached podcast features the news conference.

The news conference, which is featured in the attached podcast, was dominated by discussion on Covid-19 vaccines and reopening the U.S.-Mexico land ports of entry to Mexican visa holders. Cornyn also spoke about a visit he made the same day to SpaceX's rocket launching site at Boca Chica.

The news conference was preceded by a roundtable discussion Cornyn co-hosted with the Rio Grande Valley Partnership...

González: RSTEC aims to transform the economic reality of the RGV

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - The Rio South Texas Economic Council is a nonprofit membership organization that brings together the economic development interests of the cities, counties, chambers and educational institutions, workforce boards, ports, businesses and other stakeholders working towards regionally prosperity. 

Our mission is to successfully promote the economic expansion and diversification of communities in the Rio South Texas region by enhancing the knowledge of the area’s many assets among potential investors, fostering growth of the local economy and enhancing competitiveness to attract capital investment and jobs. 

RSTEC aims to transform the economic reality of the...

Nine new retail projects coming to Weslaco, six of which will be on the I-2 frontage

WESLACO, Texas - Nine new retail projects are coming to Weslaco, with six of them on the frontage of I-2/US 83. 

Steve Valdez, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco, announced the projects in an exclusive Zoom/podcast with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. 

Valdez said the demand for more retail establishments in his city is great, with the number of visitors frequenting existing stores and restaurants greater than the average for the Rio Grand Valley as a whole.

“What I can talk about are developments and a certain amou...

Cojuc: McAllen International Airport can become a major hub for Mexico

MCALLEN, Texas - A discussion took place at a recent McAllen Economic Development Corporation board meeting on whether McAllen International Airport could become a major hub or a mini hub for flights into Mexico.

McAllen EDC President Keith Patridge said an excellent partnership being developed between Aeromar and the City of McAllen could just catapult McAllen International Airport to mini-hub status.

Fabricio Cojuc, executive director for network strategy and alliances at Aeromar, was more bold. He said there is no reason the airport could not be a major hub. Before the discussion took place, Cojuc...

Torres: What to do if you receive a letter not a tax refund from the IRS

HARLINGEN, Texas - As a regular feature in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Podcast Editor Mario Munos talks to Rev Torres of the Texas Taxpayer Assistance Project about tax issues.

The Texas Taxpayer Assistance Project is hosted by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

What will you do if you expect to receive a tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service, but receive a letter instead? In this podcast, paralegal Rev  Torres explains what you should do… and what you should not do when you receive a letter from the IRS.

Solis: STC will soon unveil 'great projects' in automotive and transportation sectors

MCALLEN, Texas - The new president of South Texas College says he will be unveiling some “great projects” in the near future, primarily in the automotive and transportation sectors.

Ricardo Solis spoke at a recent McAllen Economic Development Corporation board meeting. He said he is excited to be working with MEDC to improve workforce training. He said his big focus right now is developing higher education programs in the health and technology arenas.

“It is a pleasure to be here. I look forward to being part of these economic efforts for the McAllen region,” Solis said, po...

Cameron County's hospital capacity overload and staffing shortage discussed

HARLINGEN, Texas -  A news conference was recently to discuss the ongoing hospital capacity overload and staffing shortage in Cameron County.

Other topics discussed included testing, vaccines, and the Regional Infusion Center. 

Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell hosted the news conference. 

Other speakers included Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., Manny Vela, CEO of Valley Baptist Health System and Valley Baptist Medical Center, Matt Wolthoff, CEO of Harlingen Medical Center, Dr. Michael Mohun, City of Harlingen Health Authority, Rene Perez, RN, BSN, paramedic director of Patient Transport Services at South Texas Emergency Care Foun...

New dean of UTRGV School of Medicine give update to LRGVDC

WESLACO, Texas - Dr. Michael B. Hocker, recently appointed dean of UTRGV School of Medicine, has given an overview of the college’s work to a local council of government.

Hocker spoke about securing full accreditation for UTRGV SOM within the next 12 to 18 months, bringing more health research funds to the region, and expanding the college’s community clinics.

“We are looking at expanding and growing our residency and fellowship training programs to bring more specialties to the Valley. We know that if we have students come here and our residents and fellows train here that t...

Dr. Tony Falcon wins praise after being appointed Baylor College of Medicine trustee

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas - The esteem in which Dr. Antonio “Tony” Falcon, MD, is held in his native Starr County was on display at a recent VIP luncheon held at the Julabe Ballroom in Rio Grande City.

Community leaders came together to recognize the Dr. Falcon’s decades of service and to celebrate his recent appointment as a trustee of Baylor College of Medicine. 

Among those to praise Dr. Falcon were Starr County Judge Eloy Vera and Starr County Industrial Foundation President Rose Benavidez. In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Eduardo Olivarez, Hidalgo...

Perales: Population changes in Texas are quite stunning

Nina Perales, vice president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, recently spoke about the implications of the 2020 Census on redistricting for South Texas and the border region.

Perales, who has litigated on behalf of Latino communities in two previous redistricting cycles, spoke at a board meeting of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council.

Perales said the loss of population in rural parts of Texas and the growth in its urban and suburban parts, as shown by Census 2020, was incredible.

Perales said: “We have a new and very di...

Republican National Committee reaches out to Hispanics in McAllen, Laredo

MCALLEN, Texas - The Republican National Committee is set to open an Hispanic Engagement Office in McAllen in the coming weeks, having just launched one in Laredo.

Macarena Martinez, the RNC’s Texas communications director, said the move shows how serious the Republican Party is about building support in Hispanic communities. 

“This is the first time we will be opening up a Hispanic Engagement Office under the RNC in Texas history so we are very excited,” Martinez told the Rio Grande Guardian, in a podcast that was recorded before the Laredo office opened.


Martinez: For good info on Covid-19 vaccines, don't follow social media jokers

EDINBURG, Texas - The chief medical officer for DHR Health says the efforts he and his colleagues are making to help patients recover from Covid-19 are not being helped by misinformation about the vaccine.

“It is important for people to get their information from good, newsworthy sources, not social media jokers. That is important,” Dr. Robert Martinez said, in an in-depth interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. 

“The misinformation is a travesty. We should be way more ahead as a region. I am a little disappointed.”

Martinez said studies have shown the...

What keeps Harrison Keller up at night

MCALLEN, Texas - The commissioner for higher education in Texas has admitted that the challenge of getting Texans the skills they need for today’s jobs is keeping him up at night.

Harrison Keller spoke in depth about the impact the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent recession has had on higher education and workforce training at a breakfast gathering hosted recently by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

“Let me share some of what is keeping me up at night. How we move forward on this is going to depend on how we work our way thro...

A conversation with RIOPY

At two years of age, that’s not a typo - two years of age - self-taught composer and performer, RIOPY began to play his own music on a discarded piano.

In his new Warner Classics release “Bliss”, RIOPY has fused minimalism, pop, jazz, and cinematic idioms into a distinctive crossover piano style. 

RIOPY studied at Oxford University and built a successful career both as a performer and as a composer for television and film. The evocative solo piano pieces of RIOPY provide the backdrop to popular movie and television trailers.

“Bliss” is a collectio...

Hyde: The U.K. has to pay more attention to the growth of Hispanics in United States

MCALLEN, Texas - A “pop-up” British Consulate’s Office is going to be open for a couple of hours in McAllen on Tuesday, Aug. 24, and Brownsville on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

The events are part of the Great British Tour of Texas, organized by the British Consulate in Houston. 

“We are going to park up the Jag and the trailer and put out a whole bunch of bunting, some flags, a cardboard cutout of Winston Churchill, a nodding Queen Elizabeth and a few other bits and pieces,” said Richard Hyde, the British Consulate General for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana...

Bailey: To secure free tuition, fees and housing, UTRGV students will have to commit stay in Valley

AUSTIN, Texas - UT-Rio Grande Valley students can get their tuition and fees paid for four years and two years of free housing - but they will have to agree to stay in the Valley for five years after graduating. 

Details on the Pinnacle Scholarship program - designed to stop the Valley’s Brain Drain - were outlined by UTRGV President Guy Bailey during a virtual meeting of the UT System Board of Regents. 

“If you are admitted to this Pinnacle Scholars Program and you meet all the benchmarks and you progress, you can graduate from m...

Booming Weslaco is expanding its industrial park capacity

WESLACO, Texas - With its one industrial park almost full, Weslaco Economic Development Corporation is developing another 15 acres of land for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. 

Around $9 million worth of Infrastructure improvements are being made on the land off of FM 1015 and Mile 9.

Steve Valdez, executive director of Weslaco EDC , recently gave an exclusive interview to the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service about the new developments. He said Weslaco did not suffer as big a downturn in the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic and is now rebounding well.

“Our existing industrial park is...

UTRGV purchasing land in McAllen to double size of its medical school

UT-Rio Grande Valley is to purchase 38 acres of land in McAllen in order to double the size of its medical school.

The land, part of the 495 Commerce Center development just south of Pecan Boulevard between Jackson and McColl, will be home to UTRGV’s planned McAllen Academic Medical Campus.

News of the purchase was announced by Dr. Parwinder Grewal, executive vice president of research, innovation and new program development at UTRGV, in his monthly report to the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

Interviewed after the meeting, Grewal told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Se...

Dr. Robert Martinez: It is disheartening to see so many people not taking the Covid vaccine

EDINBURG, Texas - The chief medical officer for DHR Health says it is “very disheartening” to see a large number of people not take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr. Robert Martinez gave an in-depth interview on how his hospital is coping with the latest surge in Covid-related cases. He said DHR is not faced with the “wartime medicine” situation it saw in the summer of 2020. Nonetheless, things are still bad.

“We want to make sure, No. 1, that everybody knows what a big issue we are currently in and understand the full impact of what is going on in the...

Highlights from the 7th Annual Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On August 10th and 11th the Border Trade Alliance sponsored a virtual two-day conference called Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border, hosted by the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Each year the border conference brings together policymakers, business leaders, and local elected officials for a dialogue that focuses on improving border management to strengthen the competitiveness of both the United States and Mexico. 

This year's event placed specific emphasis on trade, travel and health as guest speakers considered how the border region will r...