Why do we call ourselves Paso Del Sur Group?
We are called the Paso del Sur Group because we're on the “other side” of the Paso Del Norte Group, in more than one sense of the word. The Paso Del Norte Plan is very much a plan where the “Nortes”—“los de arriba”—try to impose their vision of development on the “Sureños”—los de abajo. We argue that they got it wrong. These kind of plans should start from the bottom up, not the top down. Instead, a small secretive group of 359 people—only 19% of them with Hispanic surnames—imposes its Demolition Plan on a fronterizo city without consulting anyone in South El Paso. The list of members of this group—that we obtained in April 2006 through the Freedom of Information Act and distributed among the community before they finally came out in the open—includes Councilman Robert O’Rourke,* his wife Amy and mother Melissa, his father-in-law William Sanders (founder of the Paso Del Norte Group), Dee Margo, Stanley Jobe and a list of many real-estate businessmen, developers and others who have never fully disclosed their actual or potential conflict of interest related to their plan.
The Paso Del Norte Group is a great model of everything we shouldn’t be. We need to turn them on their head. Whereas they’re secretive; we’re open. You need two nominations and have to pay an $1,800 a year exclusive membership fee to join them. Anyone can join us and the only thing you have to pay is your own lunch. They’re exclusivistic and elitist; we emphasize participatory democracy. They believe in development through destruction. Whereas they created their Demolition Plan from the top down, excluding the residents and business owners from the decision making process, we will push for a plan that begins from los de abajo para arriba, from the bottom up. (What a strange idea!).
While we mobilize our community with music and talks in South El Paso to save our barrios, the Paso Del Norte Group throws cocktail parties several blocks to the north, to discuss how fun and exciting Downtown could be once they demolish the South of our city and strip the local businesses of their property to hand it over to a Wal-Mart.
We invite anyone who believes that development should be done by including everyone from the beginning of the process—in a transparent and democratic manner carried out from the bottom up—to join the Paso Del Sur Group. We have created this webpage to get our message out that until now has been quashed and drowned out by the expensive PR campaign carried out by the Paso Del Norte Group. This is the view from the other side of the Paso Del Norte Demolition Plan.
Hopefully, you will help us get the word out.
*Councilman O'Rourke removed himself from the PDNG membership list last fall though he continues to promote the PDNG downtown plan from his city council position.