Story at a glance

  • Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, operates a test facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
  • Residents of Boca Chica have accused Musk of harming the environment and intimidating residents into moving.
  • A new documentary by Vice TV investigates their claims.

After Celia Garcia retired from social work in Michigan, she started spending winters in Boca Chica, Texas, where she was born and raised, due to her severe asthma. When the coronavirus pandemic began, she moved there full time to enjoy the quiet, with no neighbors in sight and abundant wildlife around. 

“It’s been a very stressful year,” she told Changing America. 

Not because of the pandemic, but her new neighbors: SpaceX, which built a private rocket production facility, test site and spaceport in Boca Chica — about 20 miles east of Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. 


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A new documentary by Vice TV, “VICE VERSA: Between Musk and Mars," features Garcia and several of her neighbors who have refused buyout offers and are watching SpaceX transform their homes. 

“It’s a very, very unique beautiful area, [it’s] not for everyone because it’s very remote — 20 miles away from Brownsville — but that’s what I loved about it was the remoteness, the quietness, the unpopulated area and the wildlife,” Garcia said. 

Musk arrived in Boca Chica after founding SpaceX in 2002 with plans to build a prototype village for a settlement on Mars. Neighbors have accused him of disrupting the area with rocket tests and attempting to force them out. The documentary, which premiered on Sept. 21, investigates their claims, and the claims of SpaceX, which says Musk is bringing jobs and diversifying the economy of one of the poorest counties in the United States.


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"Elon Musk's vision of the future is a gripping one," said Morgan Hertzan, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Vice TV, in a release. "'Between Musk and Mars' peels back the layers to uncover a David vs. Goliath story- what we are willing to sacrifice on Earth to achieve one man's dreams on Mars?"

Changing America has reached out to SpaceX for comment. 

Garcia said the SpaceX CEO and billionaire has visited several times, trying to convince her to sell and even threatening to file for eminent domain, although that power rests only with the government. She’s not moving and was insulted by the 64-page contract offering $190,000 for her home, calling it a "gunpoint offer."

“Space X is supposed to be a good neighbor but they’re not, they act like they are God's employees,” Garcia said. “But I'm a good neighbor. I try not to cause problems or do anything.” 

“VICE VERSA: Between Musk and Mars” is available on VICETV.com and the Vice TV app for smartphones. 

 

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Published on Sep 22, 2020