Monday, March 7, 2016

El Paso, Texas pioneering Chicano journalist Joe Olvera died

Cover of Joe Olvera's book

Joe Olvera ran for mayor to raise issues

EL PASO, TEXAS - Our good friend and fellow journalist Joe Olvera died March 4 of a heart attack, his relatives said. He was 71 years old.

Olvera was known as a fiery advocate for his community, especially for the low-income Hispanics of El Paso. He believed in using the power of the pen to effect changes and expose injustices.

Olvera worked for the El Paso Times, El Paso Herald-Post, USA Today/Gannett and KDBC-TV (when it was known as KROD TV). He was best known for his passionate columns in the El Paso Times which he signed with "sin fin" (without end or so it goes).

His book "Chicano - Sin Fin!" (Zapata 1910 Press, 2007) recounts his experiences growing in El Paso's Segundo Barrio, his stint with the Air Force, and his extraordinary career in journalism, including an undercover investigation following undocumented immigrants in their journey to the U.S. and an unprecented trip to Cuba.

His series on immigration for the El Paso Herald-Post was entered into the U.S. Congressional Record.

After his fact-finding trip to Cuba with a U.S. delegation, which left a deep impression on him, Olvera decided to run for the city's highest office against El Paso Mayor Jonathan Rogers.

"I also wanted to run for mayor then because I wanted to oust (Rogers)," Olvera wrote in his book. "I considered him an enemy to Chicanos."

That was Olvera's take-no-prisoners approach to life and to community politics.

Olvera received numerous recognitions for his work, including the 2004 Ruben Salazar Award for pioneering journalists.

In his latter years, Olvera suffered from a severe form of diabetes, and had to have both feet amputated. He had confided that his constant health struggles forced him to quit daily journalism earlier than he wished.

Rest in peace, Joe.

[Anyone who wishes to help his family with funeral expenses may do so through Go Fund Me at]

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