Naxiely Lopez-Puente

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Naxiely Lopez-Puente covers Hidalgo County and Edinburg for The Monitor. You can contact her at nlopez@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4434.

Edinburg orders 2021 election on indicted elected officials

Council members ordered an election that will give residents the option to amend the city charter so that any future elected official charged with a felony is automatically suspended from office, all while raising questions of due process and dragging the criminal cases against the mayor and the Texas Attorney General into the discussion.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local health authorities intervene with bus carrying possible COVID-19 passengers

McALLEN — Hidalgo County and McAllen health authorities made sure that an out-of-state bus carrying potential COVID-19 passengers was safely deboarded after a passenger...

Hidalgo Co.’s first-day tally surpasses 2016 early vote by over 1,500

COVID-19 has not prevented Hidalgo County voters from taking part in the elections process as 1,519 more ballots were cast Tuesday than on the...

Hinojosa talks state budget, legislative priorities

McALLEN — Texas is currently bracing for a nearly $5 billion budget deficit for the upcoming legislative session, but it can be managed through...

Democrats make historic ad buy in South Texas

EDINBURG — The Texas Democratic Party will target Latinos in the Rio Grande Valley beginning Wednesday in what the party is calling the biggest...

Cornyn asks for plan to lift border restrictions

Sen. John Cornyn is the latest to join a chorus of border officials asking the federal government for a plan to safely reopen the...

Edinburg unveils long-awaited transit terminal

EDINBURG — A new $6 million transit terminal began operating here Monday, “finally” fulfilling a yearslong dream to revolutionize how people move throughout the...

McAllen keeps conservative budget as international travel restrictions extended 

McALLEN — COVID-19’s impact on the local economy and the federal government’s restrictions on international travel have left city leaders facing a projected $7.2...

Dems, Biden campaign focus on South Texas COVID spread in presidential bid

The Biden campaign and the Texas Democratic Party highlighted the devastation caused by COVID-19 in the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday and blamed the...

Hidalgo County officials spend $250K to safeguard elections

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County commissioners approved spending about a quarter-million dollars this month to make sure voting runs as smoothly and safely as possible...

Edinburg’s SPARC program ignites local economy, Census response rate

EDINBURG — The city’s innovative business recovery program pumped $50,000 directly into local businesses on a daily basis for about two months and pushed...

Olga Maldonado fought past sexism to change local politics, law enforcement

LA FERIA — Olga Maldonado no se deja. On a recent afternoon, the 61-year-old paused for a bit, searching for the correct translation for the Spanish...

San Benito’s first woman elected to office endured threats, racism en route to historic...

McALLEN — Maria Louisa Garcia was born 19 years after women won the right to vote, and she’s spent her life making sure she...

Hidalgo Co. to discuss mail-in ballot applications for 65 and up

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County Commissioners will discuss Tuesday whether to send a mail-in ballot application to everyone 65 years or older for the November...

Hidalgo Co. helps local hospitals with federal virus relief funding

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County dipped into a $15 million reserve in federal relief funding to give local hospitals $7.5 million to ensure there is...

Nonprofits start recovery efforts as FEMA aid awaits

McALLEN — Volunteers with various nonprofits are helping some of the hardest hit residents recover from Hurricane Hanna as Hidalgo County waits for federal...

Damage from Hanna not yet enough for FEMA aid

Homeowners affected by Hurricane Hanna last month will not be able to apply for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency until enough damage...

Hidalgo Co. officials mum on hotels, governor’s visit

Hidalgo County leaders announced Sunday that hotels would begin taking convalescent patients Friday, but whether those plans are on track remains to be seen. On...

Hidalgo Co. orders residents who test positive for COVID-19 to stay at home

Local hotels will begin taking convalescent COVID-19 patients at the end of this upcoming week, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced Sunday as the death toll increased by more than 40 this weekend. Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said during a news conference Sunday that over 1,000 new cases and more than 40 deaths have already been reported in Hidalgo County this weekend due to the disease.  Judge Richard F. Cortez also announced he is issuing new emergency orders Monday, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any “enforcement capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

New orders expected as virus death toll climbs by over 40 in Hidalgo Co.

Local hotels will begin taking convalescent COVID-19 patients at the end of this upcoming week, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa announced Sunday as the death toll increased by more than 40 this weekend. Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez said during a news conference Sunday that over 1,000 new cases and more than 40 deaths have already been reported in Hidalgo County this weekend due to the disease.  Judge Richard F. Cortez also announced he is issuing new emergency orders Monday, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any “enforcement capabilities.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

Politics rear head in local COVID-19 response

The response to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in South Texas has devolved into a political firestorm between the governor and local lawmakers as they fight for control over who gets to call the shots. At the heart of the issue: how to create more capacity for hospitals in South Texas and who should be able to make decisions about the health and safety of the community. On one side, Gov. Greg Abbott and his team of experts believe the best way to create hospital capacity in the Rio Grande Valley is to send more medical personnel to the area and to house less critically ill patients in local hotels. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Faith-based organization assesses Valley’s needs amid COVID-19 surge

McALLEN — In light of surging COVID-19 activity in the Rio Grande Valley, the congressman here partnered with a faith-based organization on Monday to...

103 new COVID-19 cases in Starr, Willacy counties

Starr County health officials confirmed 45 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and are waiting for “state confirmation” on 26 deaths, Health Authority Dr. Jose Vazquez said Sunday. Health officials announced the new figures — which bring the county’s total cases to 1,102 — in a news release Sunday.  Of the total cases, 801 “are recovering under medical care” and there have been five confirmed deaths, Vazquez indicated in the news release.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Local hospitals request COVID-19 funds from county

The five major hospital systems in Hidalgo County are asking county commissioners for financial support in order to respond to the surge in COVID-19 patients. The Monitor obtained a copy of the letter that five medical institutions — Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, South Texas Health System, Mission Regional Medical Center, Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Knapp Medical Center — sent to Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez and the four county commissioners on Thursday.  “From the outset of the pandemic, our health systems have acted early and undertaken a wide variety of measures to prepare for and respond to the public health emergency, including but not limited to, retrofitting facilities, revamping standard operating procedures, innovating new ways to deliver safe and efficient healthcare, and expending significant resources in adding capacity to be able to provide care for COVID-19 patients,” the letter stated.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

LUPE launches campaign to connect rural RGV residents

A nonprofit here wants to make sure that children living in some of the poorest areas of the country have access to affordable internet in the wake of an educational revolution that has made the service a necessity.  La Union Del Pueblo Entero launched a virtual campaign Tuesday, calling for signatures in support of bringing internet services to rural residents across South Texas, specifically focusing on Starr, Hidalgo and Cameron counties, where organizers say one third of the population lacks connectivity.  “The internet is not a luxury. Unfortunately, right now it’s something necessary so that our children can continue their education,” Alberta Ramirez, a LUPE member and volunteer said during a Zoom meeting Tuesday. “Our worry, as parents, is that they have a (quality) education and that they are well-prepared.”  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Voters appear hesitant to head to the polls

Hidalgo County residents trickled in to cast their votes Monday, kicking off the early voting period for the July 14 primary runoffs amid a pandemic.  Voters appeared to be slow in getting to the polls Monday, perhaps dissuaded by the growing number of positive cases across the Rio Grande Valley and the rest of the state. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Maquilas race to meet USMCA implementation 

Manufacturing plants here and across the border are scrambling to comply with the new rules of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which will go into effect this week after two years of negotiations and ratifications by all three governments. Companies along both sides of the Rio Grande are still trying to understand the exact terms of the new agreement, which will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Wednesday.  “A new agreement was negotiated because NAFTA was outdated,” Jorge Torres, president and CEO of Interlink Trade Services in McAllen, said Thursday. “Obviously we have had many changes, mainly in technology and the way we do business, and other issues, like labor, environmental, things like that. So I think it was due. It was time to upgrade or renegotiate an agreement like NAFTA.” Read the full story at themonitor.com

McAllen taps funds to cover near $12M shortfall

The city manager here wants to set the record straight about the city’s financial situation. The Monitor reported Tuesday that the city commission had dealt with a $3.3 million deficit on Monday during a joint meeting with members of the Development Corporation. The figure was listed in the agenda for Monday’s meeting. However, that shortfall is closer to $12 million, McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said Wednesday. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Program to aid rural families and businesses nears launch

Rural Hidalgo County families and business owners will soon be able to apply for economic relief for hardships caused by COVID-19, county officials announced Tuesday.  Hidalgo County Commissioners approved a program Tuesday that will help 4,000 households pay for up to two months of rent or mortgage, and invested $3.5 million to create the Hidalgo County CARES Small Business Grant Program, which offers $5,000 grants to businesses that were previously forced to close under emergency orders from the county.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Program to aid rural families and businesses nears launch

Rural Hidalgo County families and business owners will soon be able to apply for economic relief for hardships caused by COVID-19, county officials announced Tuesday.  Hidalgo County Commissioners approved a program Tuesday that will help 4,000 households pay for up to two months of rent or mortgage, and invested $3.5 million to create the Hidalgo County CARES Small Business Grant Program, which offers $5,000 grants to businesses that were previously forced to close under emergency orders from the county.  Read the full story at themonitor.com