A Texas House of Representatives investigative committee released on Friday a Spanish version of its preliminary report on the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre that left 21 people dead.
The committee faced criticism earlier this week after releasing the report only in English considering that Uvalde residents are predominantly Hispanic or Latino and many speak Spanish.
Officials had said it would be weeks before they could share the report in Spanish but earlier this week, a group of Spanish-speaking reporters and editors translated its 77 pages and delivered thousands of copies to Uvalde.
The Austin American-Statesman announced earlier this week it was publishing the entire report in Spanish “as a public service for the Uvalde families and the greater community.”
Manny García, executive editor of the newspaper, said in a note to readers that several Spanish-speaking journalists from across the country and in Mexico collaborated to translate and edit the report.
“A group of Spanish-language reporters and editors took special care to ensure the translation was culturally competent and sensitive to word usage by Mexican and Central American communities,” García wrote.
Nicole Carroll, the editor-in-chief of USA Today and president of the newspaper’s parent company Gannett, said 10,000 copies of the Spanish version of the report were delivered to Uvalde on Thursday.
“García and others from the Statesman personally delivered copies to grocery stores, a pharmacy, restaurants, funeral homes, churches, the police department and library. They left a stack at Robb Elementary School next to the memorials where visitors picked up copies,” Carroll wrote in a note to USA Today’s readers on Friday.
Uvalde, which is about 85 miles west of San Antonio, has a predominantly Hispanic or Latino population and half of residents age 5 or older speak a language other than English at home, according to the Census Bureau.
Since the immediate aftermath of the May 24 massacre, authorities have struggled to provide information in Spanish. For days, law enforcement only provided public updates in English and DPS South Texas regional director Victor Escalon did not respond to requests from reporters asking for a Spanish statement during a press conference.
Last month, several members of Congress including Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona, and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, sent a letter to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw requesting all information about the shooting to be provided in Spanish.
“The people of Uvalde have a right to know all the information about the horrific shooting that took place at Robb Elementary, and those whose first language is Spanish cannot continue to be overlooked,” said Rep. Norma Torres of California in a statement. “Especially as misinformation and inconsistencies prevail, all community members deserve clear, critical public safety updates in their preferred language. English shouldn’t automatically be the default – especially in predominantly Latino communities like Uvalde – and residents shouldn’t be left in the dark by safety officials because of a language barrier.”
The committee looking into the law enforcement response in Uvalde has not commented on the release of the Spanish version of the report on Friday – but Texas State Rep. Joe Moody, one of three committee members said on Wednesday that it had “always” been their intention to translate the report into Spanish.
The professional translation service hired to do so, Moody tweeted, notified the committee that “it would normally take at least two weeks to complete a project like this, but given the nature of this work, they’ve agreed to rush it and will complete it this week.”
Moody said the committee conferred with local authorities who were coordinating with Uvalde families to let them know the Spanish translation wouldn’t be ready last week. He said the committee was told the families wanted the English version of the report released without out delay.
“We sincerely hope the translation circulating today, which wasn’t done by professional translators and hasn’t been reviewed by our committee, is completely accurate,” Moody tweeted earlier this week.