Velma García-Gorena grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and has lived for extended periods of time in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. She teaches a variety of courses, including Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, the U.S./Mexico Border, and Latinos and Immigration in the U.S.
Her first book, Mothers and the Mexican Antinuclear Movement (University of Arizona Press, 1999), examines the case of a social movement, led by a mother’s group, that attempted to close Mexico’s only nuclear power plant, Laguna Verde, located a few miles from the city of Veracruz.
García is now completing a study of opposition to the border wall in the U.S. Southwest. The book examines how the wall, built in 2008, has violated the rights of Hispanic and Native American landowners in Texas and Arizona and has also damaged the environment.
For the last five years she has translated the work of the Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Gabriela Mistral (1889–1957). She recently completed the translation of Mistral’s letters to her partner and executor, the North American writer Doris Dana. In addition to documenting their romantic relationship, the more than three hundred letters include descriptions of Mistral’s work as a poet, diplomat and human rights activist. The complete set of translated letters was published in 2018 (Gabriela Mistral's Letters to Doris Dana, University of New Mexico Press). A selected set of the letters was published by The Massachusetts Review (“I Have Only You in this World,” Winter 2015).
García and Kate Berson have begun the translation of Gabriela Mistral’s last book of poetry, Poema de Chile. Four of their translated poems from Poema were published in 2017 in the literary journals Copper Nickel and Hayden’s Ferry Review.