"Balance" by Chicana Muralist Judy Baca (used by permission)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

La Tumba del Mojado: A Message to My People

La rosa de Mexicali /
y la sangre en el Rio Bravo /
son dos cosas diferentes /
pero en color son hermanos /
y la linea divisoria /
es la tumba del mojado.

-- Paulino Vargas /
Los Tigres del Norte

They died, frozen in the mountains, thirsting and hallucinatory in the desert. They died trying to cross the border while evading the hated Tortilla Curtain - the Wall between the US and Mexico that spans a length of the California border.

4,000 have died, mostly in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, and it was not a Cazamigrante, a wild Republican cowboy or a radical white Christian Fascist who killed them. It was former President Clinton of the Democratic Party. That’s who built the Wall.

And every migrant who crosses to el otro lado knows it, that “la linea divisoria
es la tumba del mojado.”

And now we have our own ‘leaders’ urging us, begging us, to trust the very people you knew could kill you when you crossed.

They are wrapping our wrists in razor wire and applauding a bill - a so-called compromise, one that will do nothing but make matters worse for all of those without papers.

They are asking you to hope in the very people who set La Migra on your trail, who trained the dogs that hunted you through the night, who forced you to come, locked in the back of a truck, through the rapids of a turbulent river, through a tunnel dark with rats, through a sewer pipe, on top of a freight car’

Someone has to say this. Someone has to be responsible; someone has to know when it is time to cast away illusions.

We know it. The mass protests we have held sent an unmistakable message.

¡Aqui Estamos, Aqui Nos Quedamos, y No Nos Vamos - Si Nos Echan, Regresamos!

Los de arriba understood. Beyond and behind the white t-shirts and the bloody flags, they understood our message.

We will resist.

That’s the message that shook them.

That’s why they took a big step backward from making everyone without papers an instant felon; that’s why they thought twice about hunting you down, and deporting you to ‘detention centers.’ Or worse.

The hearts of the killers that built the wall on the border were not softened by American flags in the streets, nor by claims that this is a so-called ‘nation of immigrants,’ nor by pleas that ‘we are just like you.’


They know we’re not like them, no matter how many US flags we wave. They know it the way a flea knows it is not a dog. The way a vampire knows it is not its blood supply. The way a killer knows he is not same as the one he intends to kill.


They are not softened by the images of dying children in Iraq, any more than they were softened by the images of your own children going hungry, or of ‘mujeres indigenas’ begging a peseta. They were not softened by the images of the bodies of your paisanos killed by the death squads that the US trained, paid and directed in Guatemala, El Salvador, and yes, in Mexico.

The people who lead the US are not bound by popular opinion - 60% of the people oppose the war in Iraq - but there is no end in sight. They are not bound by compassion - they starve the world in order to gorge themselves. They are not bound by law or elections - the last presidential elections in the US were stolen, and they are pushing the nation toward fascism - not compassion.

But they walk a line. The questions they ask are these: how far can we go without inciting an uncontrollable rebellion among those who live on the bottom - those we are attacking? How far can we go without permanently alienating Mexico, Central America and South America - without fueling leftist upheavals there? How far can we go without losing the support of the middle class? How far can we go without undermining our own profit?

It is the answer to those questions that will determine how far they will go. There are no other questions. They are looking closely at only two choices.

One is to totally criminalize and hunt down our people.

The other is to lock you down right where you live and work, lock you into a peon style relationship under control of your boss (and of course, the government) and, as one writer put it, to make you absolutely ‘vulnerable to deportation at the merest hint of resistance.’

Of course there are variations on the theme - to criminalize some of us and hunt us down, while putting the rest under the strictest control.

But make no mistake. At the first sign that an economic decline or other crisis is on the horizon for the US, the government will try to take us all out - that’s exactly what happened during the Great Depression - mass deportation.

And make no mistake - when that happens everyone who’s signed up for the ‘earn your citizenship’ parade will be marked, like the Jews were marked by yellow stars before they were deported to their particular fate by the Nazis.

Tell this to our ‘leaders’: We don’t need to beg to be treated like human beings. The system takes our labor and gives little or nothing in return. As a people we’ve already ‘earned’ our right to live without being hunted like criminals. But the truth is, of course, that life without oppression, without racism, without poverty and alienation is our right as human beings - we never had to earn it.

What we need is not more ‘reasonable’ leaders begging the government to give half of us a tiny portion of what is ours by right, while they hunt down and deport the rest.

What we need is to demand an immediate end to our persecution by the State and by fascist shock troops like the Minutemen, and an immediate end to all plans to hunt us down, lock us down, and wall us out.

That’s what ‘dignity’ really means.

Juan Santos is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. He can be reached at JuanSantos@Mexica.net


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