Thanks to the work of La Union del Pueblo Entero and our membership base, there are now 13 colonias in Hidalgo County that have streetlights. After 8 years of organizing, passing two laws in the state legislature, studying the county budget, and attending Commissioners Court meetings, we have gained three County Commissioners finding money to install the solar streetlights.
Residents in colonia Buena Vida celebrated the installation with a health fair and community lunch, where Precinct 3 representative Dr. Mona Parra praised the organizing of LUPE members in accomplishing lights in their colonia.
Residents in Colonia Muñiz and Colonia San Cristobal celebrated the installation of their lights with community lunches to recognize all the work done by LUPE and our members on the campaign as well as Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios and his staff. The Commissioner responded to the needs of colonia residents in his district and was the first of the Commissioners to install lights.
Commissioner Palacios attended both lunch-time celebrations. At the celebrations, the Commissioner committed to installing streetlight in new colonias each year and told residents, “Ustedes son mis jefes.” You are my bosses, and that his offices are open to the residents of the colonias for anything they might need.
We know that 13 colonias is a great start but only a drop in the bucket as there are over one thousand colonias in Hidalgo County. Residents in the colonias suffer from dangerous streets at night. Without adequate lighting, children cannot safely go out and play in the evenings, contributing to health issues, including obesity and diabetes, later on in life. Drivers cannot see clearly, resulting in accidents that put drivers and pedestrians at risk. Colonia residents deserve the same right to safe streets as residents of the cities.
For those reasons, Commissioner Palacio’s commitment is a commitment to walk down the road toward equality for colonia residents and is the path that we hope each commissioner will take. We urge the other Commissioners to follow in the footsteps of Commissioner Joel Quintanilla, who set aside a small percentage of this year’s CDBG budget toward the installation of streetlights.
LUPE's streetlights and parks campaign is sponsored by the Communities Creating Healthy Environments initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. CCHE is a national capacity-building initiative to support diverse, community-based organizations and indigenous groups with proven track records in developing and organizing for effective, culturally competent policy initiatives that address the root causes of childhood obesity at the local level. CCHE sets out to prevent childhood obesity by increasing access to healthy foods and safe places to play in communities of color. The program will advance RWJF’s efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015 by supporting diverse, community-based organizations and federally chartered tribal nations in the development and implementation of effective, culturally competent policy initiatives to address the root causes of childhood obesity locally.