Residents are not only being cut off from accessing the beach by the company, but they are being actively harmed, activists say. Musk has invited people from outside the state to move to the area, contributing to the displacement of locals as the influx of wealthy newcomers causes rents to rise. SpaceX has reportedly pressured Boca Chica Village residents to sell their homes through heavy-handed tactics such as warnings the launches would shatter their windows. Cameron County and other elected officials have facilitated the corporate takeover of Boca Chica Village and the beach, according to activists, and most of the village, including the roads, is now owned by SpaceX. Anyone who remains is forced to evacuate during launches, which are often heard or felt by residents living even 10 miles away in Port Isabel and South Padre Island.
“It’s disappointing that county officials are more concerned with Elon Musk’s vanity project, SpaceX, than their own residents’ well-being. We await information from the Texas Public Information Act as we seek to uncover the truth between these local and federal agencies and corporations,” said Priscilla Lugo, Texas Justice Advocate Coordinator at LatinoJustice.
Many local officials have publicly welcomed Musk, who promised to donate $20 million to Brownsville schools and another $10 million to the city. This, activists say, is a pittance for one of the world’s richest people, especially in light of the billions he has received in government subsidies, which include a 10-year tax break from Cameron County.
“Transparency is critical when ongoing government-corporate collusion has direct impacts on community members’ lives,” said Ian Head, coordinator of the Center for Constitutional Rights Open Records Project. “Federal and local government agencies must release all appropriate records and material immediately so that Brownsville residents can have a fuller understanding of what their elected officials are up to.”
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did a haphazard job of community outreach, public hearings, and Spanish language access in their review of the SpaceX license to launch the largest rocket in human history from our community. Now we’re left bracing ourselves as SpaceX continues its expansion and reach into our community because the FAA left so many questions about explosions and beach access unanswered,” said Emma Guevara, a resident of Brownsville, TX. “We deserve transparency from the regulatory agency and the city and county governments about the private space industry moving into our community.”
Read the requests here.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org. Follow the Center for Constitutional Rights on social media: Center for Constitutional Rights on Facebook, @theCCR on Twitter, and ccrjustice on Instagram.