Thursday, August 27, 2009

Una Identidad Sin Fronteras: Piedras

This site has been quiet for the past few months, but not without reason. Something snapped in me around the inauguration. My life felt stagnant and I was ready for a major change beyond the Change that was bandied about during the Presidential campaign.

I made the decision to put my social life on hold and save money like there was no tomorrow in order to invest in buying a roof over my head. Well, that day came on Friday, August 14th, 2009 at approximately 2pm. I have joined the ranks of home ownership.

What's been amazing is the support from my family and friends, most of whom live over 100 miles away. Each weekend I've been blessed to have many of them here to help me prep the new digs and assist with the movement of all the stuff I've accumulated over the years.

The past few weeks have been a time of purging and cleansing, painting and upgrading. My new casita is a 2-bedroom, 1-bath home built in 1952 and has front row views of sunsets framed by the Tucson Mountains to the west and the city lights to the west at night. I am a stone's throw away from one of the longest continually inhabited area in North America at the base of Sentinel Peak.

Even though I've only been here a couple of weeks, I feel at peace.

This past weekend my nana was here to help with the work of getting into a new-to-me house. Soon to be 79 years old, she is my only remaining grandparent and is so full of love that my heart can't help but to swell when she shares a bit of herself with me. Right before leaving on Sunday, she pulled out a vial of holy water, led us in prayer and blessed my casita. A moment I will never forget.

One of the features of the house is a series of rounded river rocks that adorn the sides of the house and several areas of the expansive, desert-landscaped yard. She chose one and took it with her back to my hometown to put in her yard so she can link my piece of tierra with that of my ancestors. Speaking to her on the phone yesterday, she asked that I bring several more with me when I go home in a couple of weeks so they can be placed at the graves of mis abuelitos.

As she choked up during the request for more piedras, she said, "You are a part of them, and they are a part of you. Always. And when I die, I want you to take the rock from my yard and put it on my grave."

I couldn't help but get emotional. Familia is so important to me and the cultura. It is a beautiful and powerful force. Knowing that I am able to connect this new chapter of my life to them all is something that will strengthen me as I spend the rest of my life making this pile of bricks a home.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Astro Jose to Tweet During Discovery Mission

Inspiring story of a Mexican-American astronaut scheduled to launch with the Discovery crew this week. He'll be tweeting bilingually at @Astro_Jose
If you want to get the latest developments about the launch of the space shuttle Discovery and the adventures of its crew, specifically Jose Hernandez, the California-born son of Mexican immigrants and now a national hero here in Mexico, you can sign up to follow Hernandez's Twitter feed.

Hernandez is already posting updates on the micro-blogging site about his preparations for take-off and developments concerning the delayed launch of the space shuttle in both English and Spanish.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Another Deadly Summer

If you peruse the archives of this site, you'll see many posts from me agonizing about the constant drumbeat of death that occurs in the desert as the summer heat blazes and economic policies continue to pull humanity to El Norte. This summer has been particularly deadly:
The bodies of six illegal immigrants have been found in the past three days along Arizona's stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, continuing a deadly summer in the desert.

Law enforcement officials recovered two bodies each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as the scorching summer heat continued. Temperatures have reached 100 degrees or higher in Southern Arizona each of the past 13 days, said National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Zell.

From Oct. 1 through July 31, Border Patrol agents in the Tucson Sector had recovered the bodies of 161 illegal immigrants, an 18 percent increase from the 137 bodies found during the same time last year, said Mike Lee, Border Patrol Tucson Sector spokesman. The sector stretches from New Mexico to Yuma County.

Arizona Daily Star (emphasis mine)
Where's Obama? Where's Janet? This human rights catastrophe is happening in a jurisdiction that she has overseen since 2002; first as Arizona's governor, now as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

They are no better than George W. Bush on border policy.

Rhetoric-wise there is a difference, but that doesn't muster any clout when you have people stripping off their clothes out of desperation to escape the scorching sun. The American people find it easy to blame border crossers for their own deaths. "They had it coming."

Yet they ignore the maquilas that sit conveniently on one side of an imaginary line so that brown skinned workers can produce goods for pennies on the dollar. Mujeres being raped and disappeared by the thousands in Juarez. Pollution that infects the workers and those living along watersheds - all in the name of economic stability for those privileged enough to be on the benefitting side of the T-account.

Where is the change, Mr. President? Secretary Salazar recently gave positive signals to humanitarian groups, but how will that translate to a shift in paradigm and treatment of our brothers and sisters south of the line?

Even as this shell game continued, Ed McCullough and several other No More Deaths volunteers were invited to meet with Jane Lyder, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. The message they toted back to Washington, D.C., was simple, says McCullough, a retired dean of the UA College of Science, and the group's official cartographer: "We told them there were people dying in the desert, and the primary cause of death was heat-related problems related to the lack of water. And we told them that we wanted to put water out.

"Secretary Salazar came in about 15 minutes after the meeting started and talked about his concern with what's happening to the migrants in the desert," McCullough recalls. "He said he's had a general concern about immigration problems for a very long time. He also said there were laws among the various government agencies, and anyone proposing what we're proposing would have to work within the law."

McCullough says he and the other volunteers left the meeting with a sense "that they wanted to work something out with the humanitarian groups."

If that's the case, it does signal a mood for compromise. But this is precisely where the rubber hits the road.

Hawkes was out of town and unavailable for comment. But in a recent interview with the Tucson Weekly, he made his position clear. When asked whether No More Deaths will be allowed to put out water, he replied: "Not the way they want to do it. But they can drive around the refuge and hand out cups of water all they want."

Tucson Weekly (emphasis mine)

Unfortunately, that is the situation we face as long as Washington does nothing to end the funnel of death along la frontera and the economic instability that keeps currency in Latin América dependent upon the whims of the greenback.