Missing the Mexican

Did we underestimate the popularity of Gustavo Arellano's column?

 Editor's note: The Houston Press did not cancel Ask a Mexican. For space reasons, we have moved it to www.houstonpress.com.

Popular column: Please understand that you have greatly underestimated the popularity of Gustavo Arellano's Ask a Mexican column. Many Houstonians of various ethnicities look forward to the weekly chuckles provided. I can't say that I won't ever read your publication again, but I will sorely miss it, and Houston Press will definitely be off my love list.

Corinna Garcia
Stafford

Displeased demographic: Please bring back Ask a Mexican. Thirty-seven percent of people in Houston are Latino, and of those, more than 50 percent are Mexican. Many of us are educated and have income to spend on the products your advertisers sell. I am extremely upset that a section that represents my demographic group has been eliminated. I feel as if people like me are being discounted. I am very proud of being a Mexican, and have heretofore enjoyed the Houston Press

Elena Delavega, MSW
Doctoral Student
Graduate College of Social Work
University of Houston
Kingwood

Put it in the paper: Please rethink your decision to cancel Gustavo Arellano from the Houston Press. He is one of a handful of columnists I follow religiously (Martin Wolf, Financial Times; Paul Krugman, New York Times; Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly; Loren Steffy, Houston Chronicle; among others). Although I can still read Gustavo's work via other sources including the Internet, there's absolutely nothing like picking up a local newspaper and always finding intelligent writing. You have no idea how exciting it is to travel throughout the United States and come across Gustavo's work in the country's papers. Please reconsider. We need Gustavo's work in the Greater Houston area.

Vivian Macias
Spring

Important: As a Texas native and a Mexican American, I feel that the Ask a Mexican column is a very important column to a variety of people in Houston. Albeit controversial at times, the column provides an insight into the culture, politics and current issues that normally aren't addressed in mainstream media. Issues such as racism, xenophobia and my personal favorite, "Edward James Olmos Syndrome." I sincerely hope you reconsider removing the column as it is one of my favorite columns to date.

Mark Anthony Martínez
Portland, Oregon

Much-needed column: I just received horrible news that the Houston Press has canceled the column by Gustavo Arellano, Ask a Mexican. That troubles me very much. In a city that's more than 30 percent Hispanic, a column of this sort does more than just entertain. It provides a much-needed context about the history of a very underrepresented group. While I understand that your audience is made up of many other ethnic groups and people of all backgrounds, Arellano's column is important because it bridges the perceived gap between these groups. The Houston Press has done a wonderful job covering topics that are ignored by the city's daily newspaper, but it still lacks adequate coverage of issues facing the large and growing Hispanic population here. I hope that my one letter will change your mind, but know that it won't. I plan to start an e-mail campaign to have Ask a Mexican put back into the weekly publication. I would hate to think that there is such little regard for a humorous yet informative resource like Arellano's column.

Jaime Puente
Houston

The Limited

Something for nothing? Craig Malisow's story was, as usual, a page-turner ["Cover Me," July 16]. I was disappointed, however, that he never wrote about his subject's personal responsibility for the disastrous situation in which she finds herself.

Kathern Cathey's biggest mistake wasn't that she bought a limited medical benefit plan, nor was it the fact that she failed to do her due diligence on what or from whom she was buying (these were, indeed, failures of Cathey's which rest entirely on her shoulders). Cathey's biggest mistake was thinking she could get something for nothing.

Malisow wrote, "She says she never had major medical problems before, so she simply didn't maintain consistent coverage." The all-too-common thinking behind this foolish (albeit candid) statement goes like this: "I'm not sick, so why buy/maintain health insurance?" One may as well ask: "My house isn't on fire; why would I buy homeowners' insurance?"

No one wants to think about the grim but likely possibility of being diagnosed with cancer or some other catastrophic illness, and certainly it is counterintuitive to pay for something one isn't "using."

If asked a year ago, I'm sure Cathey would have agreed with these statements. She would probably have said, "Yes, I know that insurance must be bought before catastrophe happens." She is an adult and should have known better. As heartbreaking as her situation is, I think that painting Cathey as the victim ignores her part in getting her into the mess she is in today.

Phil Peterson
Houston

Online readers weigh in:

An alternative: I agree with your article regarding the tactics used to sell these policies to individuals and not explaining them properly. Have you ever read the Summary of Benefits page? You have to be an attorney to understand what's covered. Sadly, some licensed agents don't understand the benefits either. In Cathey's case, she should have been given practical solutions to fit her situation. A traditional health insurance plan probably would have excluded coverage "after the fact" due to pre-existing condition. An alternative would be to apply for a gold card with the Harris County Hospital or get a policy through the Texas Risk pool (about $800 to $1,100 per month).

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