To propose the de-Mexicanization of El Paso is to erase its identity which the city of El Paso agreed to do after the 2006 City Council approval of the Glass Beach Study.
The purpose of the branding strategy obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, was to establish what El Paso was and what they would propose it to become.
The 2006 study established their positioning as: "El Paso is a place that helps you to respect the values of the old with the innovation of the new so you, your family and colleagues can experience the birthplace of the renaissance in the South West."
However, the Glass Beach study did the exact opposite of respecting the values of the old.
Proposed by the Paso Del Norte Group, the study faced a distaste in their first phase containing research compiled regarding the city's immersion and brand audit. The document featured a picture of a brown man representing the study's definition of "old west" which included labeling them as dirty, lazy, uneducated, Spanish speaking, old, and gritty. The "new west" label hoped to reach a population described as male and female, 30-40 years old, educated, entrepreneurial, bilingual, family, entertainment enthusiasts and provided examples such as actors Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz.
The portrayal of the "old west" was proposed as an identity crisis the City of El Paso was in need of addressing.
"It is difficult for me to see the people I closely identify with, people that remind me of my grandparents, the most hard-working people I know, to be portrayed as the opposite," said El Paso resident, Andrea Barragan. "The study damages the portrayal of its residents and therefore El Paso itself. It makes me sad but more than anything, it makes me angry."
In their site consultant summary, a part of the phase one research, they pursued to establish El Paso's current image as a negative one and in need of an update. Phase two established the then current brand messaging followed by their last phase, integrated communications plan.
This study was proposed and approved by a City Council representing a city with a Hispanic population of over 80%, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services 2006 record.
Expressing his love for El Paso as well as his concerns and critiques for the way it is being run, local artist Jud Burgess ran for Representative District 2, City Council in 2017.
"It [the study] was a blatant attempt by powerful people to remove this type of El Pasoan and Juarenzes from downtown in favor of hipster culture and people with status and money," said Burgess.
Damaging the population's Mexican identity, makes it easier to erase; but in a state once known as Tejas with a deeply rooted Mexican history it is troubling to be made aware that the ones elected to represent agree with a poor and prejudiced depiction of their constituents clouded by the hopes of redevelopment.
According to the City of El Paso website’s minutes of the July 19, 2006 Executive Session, council members, now Texas senator candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke and Steve Ortega voted in favor of the branding strategy.
The people they have been chosen to represent cease to be a fault and burden on its city. On the contrary, the highly-Hispanic populated city represents Texas as a top 20% performer in the U.S. economy, according to the City of El Paso's Economic and International Development.
According to the The Plan for El Paso Technical Report V on Economic Development from 1988, "As an economic development strategy is established, it is important that the urbanized areas of the City, particularly those areas that are in what is now Central El Paso, be recognized as a vital area for the City's economic well-being, and that they be so recognized as an important part of El Paso's economic life."
The branding strategy failed to deliver to its residents and appeased the few elected to represent them.
Redevelopment to better the El Pasoan economy should be welcomed, but the few have crossed a line where its prioritizing its attraction over the well-being of its residents. El Paso won't be changed at the hands of a few who attempt to turn it into something it was never meant to be.