Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Couple of Coronas and a Book Recommendation

When I first moved to Reynosa, I lived alone in an apartment near the school.  One night I was taking out the trash with my ever faithful dog at my side when she gave the intruder alert. And by intruder alert I mean she barked at anything that moved within a block's radius of what she considered her territory.  Sitting on the corner curb were two disheveled men.  I eyed them suspiciously wondering if I should proceed past my gate.  One of the men noticed me and spoke up.  I was a little weaker in the Spanish back then so I replied something like "Esta bien".  In those two little words, I must have given myself away as a gringa (along with my shorts and tank top showing my Iowa white skin). Immediately the taller of the two responded back in fairly decent English.  He told me they didn't mean to scare me and they were just a little tired and hungry and wanted to rest.  I didn't have enough pesos so they could buy something to eat.  I told them to wait and I would bring them some food. I went upstairs and made them both ham sandwiches, a bag of chips, a couple apples, and a bunch of cookies.  I didn't have any soda or anything else to give them to drink except beer so I cut a lime in half and put 4 Coronas in the bag.  I went back outside and the men were waiting by the gate. When they opened the bag, you should have seen the surprised look on both men's faces. It was like they won the lottery.  The English speaking man said, "Wow, two Coronas for me and my friend!"

I suspected at the time that these two men were from somewhere far away and only in Reynosa to cross the river into Texas.  I never saw them again.

Americans have many notions about people who cross our borders without documentation.  One of those notions is they think it is so easy to travel from Mexico to the United States when actually it is a journey that is extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Border Patrol, nearly 2000 people have died crossing the border between 2007-2011. This figure does not include the thousands more that have died within the borders of Mexico. The poorest of the poor are beaten for any money they may be carrying because their attackers know these immigrants have no recourse.  They're lucky if they are only beaten. For those who have refused to be drug mules, they could end up in mass graves just like the one found near Reynosa a couple years ago. If you are interested in hearing stories about the dangers of immigrants traveling across Mexico into the United States, I recommend a book written by Sonia Nazario called Enrique's Journey.

6 comments:

  1. Cool story. Glad you shared. I'm going to look for the book you recommended. =)

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    1. Thanks Tara. With all the political rhetoric about "illegals", sometimes we need to be reminded of the human aspect.

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  2. Lovely story Rita!!

    There is a program on TV I watch sometimes...Border Patrol. They are a tad vicious at times, but I don't mind when they get the drug mules. Just the others who are trying to get some work. I mean, it's illegal, but it's sad... No matter which way you look at it.

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    1. I wouldn't want their job for all the gold in the world. The job is too dangerous especially out in the fields. I mostly dealt with the guys at the bridge and, just like the rest of the world, some were fantastic and others were assholes.

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  3. Well-written, Rita. Sadly there seems like a dehumanizing these people keeps them at a safe distance from us....though we keep meeting many of them in our our (soon-to-be) frozen wasteland. Its obvious that being undocumented here is a huge issue, but it would be nice to start the conversation with an admission of their humanity, I'd be willing to listen.

    Have you read any of Luis Alberto Urrea's work? I ran into him on PBS's Moyers program, which should still be online. Awesome interview.

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    1. Thanks Dave. I will look for Urrea's work.

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