AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Several years ago when I first found out about the contamination in Mission, I wanted to use whatever resources I had to help the community out.  I had met some [email protected] activists at the La Raza Unida summit (around 2002) from Austin and San Antonio that were interested in taking a trip to the Rio Grande Valley to meet the affected community.  I had a video camera and some tech skills so I decided to take a trip to Mission to talk to folks and document their stories.  
When we arrived, there were about 30 people at the house of local activist Ester Salinas, who had organized the event.  At first no one wanted to speak.  But then Dolores arrived.  She was the first person willing to be interviewed on film for what has turned out to be a years-long documentary in-the-works.
She passed shortly after this interview but she was always a part of every meeting, platica, presentation and action we ever had around the Mission contamination over the next several years.  
The first university presentation on the Mission contamination that I ever facilitated was at UT Pan Am in Edinburg, Tx.  Students had been given access to the Mission website and online archive I’d launched years prior and had seen some of the video footage.  Students learned about this story, which they were all connected to but had not heard about.  One student in particular saw Dolores’ video and felt moved to write this poem:

Dolores, today I am angry.

Angry at my blind assumption,

believing what the news tells me,

making you just a face,

and your city,

even though I travel by it everyday,

just a local blurb on the 10 o’clock news.


Today I am angry because I never got to meet you.

I never once cared enough to ask questions

about the place you call home.

And you could have been my sister,

but you died,

with your voice still echoing

I’m not ready


I want to scream at injustice,

scream at our poverty!

Because this would have never happened in Cimarron Country Club,

never would have made it passed the gates at La Mansion.


I want to know who it was that took you away from your family.

I want to know the laughter of all those children that never saw the sun,

never felt the sands of South Padre,

never had the chance to dance when no music was playing


I want to scream at this injustice!

I want to take you and fix you like God,

piece back the hair on your head strand by strand,

gently cradle your breasts back on your chest,

kiss each eye and make you stop crying.


I want to tell you it was OK to be angry.

This was not your fault,

and just like you,

I am also angry,

and this is not my fault.


I want to scream at our poverty,

I want to scream at my ignorance,

I want to scream passed the heads of industries,

scream until God can hear me

and ask



Dolores” by Lady Mariposa

Lady Mariposa was a chola, but then she went to college. Now she is an educated chola. She is a poet and spoken word artist. She has a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas Pan American. Her album “Hecha En El Valle: Spoken Word and Borderland Beats” can be found on I-Tunes. Lady Mariposa is Veronica Sandoval, a Tejana, from the Rio Grande Valley, who grew up in Sullivan City. She currently works for Washington State University and is working on her PhD in American Studies. and my only page is or my youtube at