The Great Divide

El Paso is fractured. Culturally. Geographically. Economically. Politically.

And linguistically.

According to the most current estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, 70% of El Pasoans 5 years old and older speak a language other than English, and 67.7% speak Spanish.

You were expecting maybe Mandarin?

Among citizens 18 years and over (i.e., eligible voters*), 65.9% speak Spanish. Among those eligible voters who speak Spanish, 33.6% speak English less than “very well.”

That’s 22% of our eligible voters who don’t speak English very well.

Do you think those citizens are well represented by our local governmental institutions?

The El Paso Independent School District doesn’t even offer Spanish to English translators at their meetings, so parents wishing to address the board in Spanish aren’t understood by the majority of the board, who are monolingual.

How many members of City Council speak Spanish? How much political campaigning is done in Spanish?

Sure, lots of candidates have the obligatory Spanish translation on the flipside of their flyers, but do they talk to the electorate in Spanish?

Maybe the reason for our historically low voter turnout is that the candidates don’t reach out to Spanish speakers, and the Spanish media doesn’t reach out to candidates.

As a result, our governmental institutions serve a whiter, wealthier, ruling class that ignores the needs of our poorer residents and neighborhoods. And all of El Paso suffers for it.

*I suspect that the U.S. Census Bureau really means “residents” and not “citizens,” since the Census Bureau famously does not inquire about citizenship. Resident aliens, for example, may be included in the survey sample and not be eligible to vote.


  1. I long ago noted how few Spanish speaking El Pasoans are involved in our local government. As you point out, there is little real effort on the part of candidates, or office holders, to reach out to this unrepresented majority of our population. And, since they tend to get their news from non-English newspapers and television, they miss out on what is going on. Frankly, imho, things will not change here until this language divide is overcome.

    1. Does the city could reach out to the Spanish-language media to ensure they are getting all the same info the English-language media does? I hope so.

      I’d hope that everything El Paso does would be bilingual and open to everyone.

  2. I went to the white people’s meeting last week and we were down another two members. Ezekiel finally fell to the cancer and Jeb just plain drank hisself to death. Neither one spoke that mongrel Mezkin lingo and never would. We’re running out of white people, plain and simple. Pretty soon this whole “race” thing will sort itself out. It’s hard to say “Buenos Dias” with six feet of dirt on your face.

  3. im of the chinga su madre generation. white boys in central know that means it is time to buy beer

  4. Illiteracy is just 1 out of 592 reasons why no one wants to move here to set up $hop or to just simply live in this enormous pile of kitty litter.

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