BROOKS COUNTY — For the first time, an aid group is deploying water stations in the Brooks County brush in an effort to prevent migrant deaths, and finding creative ways to work with private ranchers who don’t usually fling the gates wide for outsiders. It’s a fledgling movement — only two stations are in place so far — but the rising interest from human rights groups is another indicator of the mounting death toll. It is also a sign of Brooks County’s emergence as a kind of new Sonoran Desert, where water stations have long been a fixture in southern Arizona. As migration patterns and U.S. border enforcement strategies have changed, the migrant trail has shifted, too, leading them on foot through the county’s barren, 944 square miles of private ranches to avoid the Border Patrol checkpoint south of Falfurrias. Nearly 80 bodies have been recovered in the county in 2013, approaching the record 129 in 2012.
EL PASO – No, not the New York/New Jersey football team, the 1982 alternative rock band, or the 1971 George C. Scott movie. Even better, they are civil rights heroes among us, standing up and moving for what they believe in. March 31 was César Chavez day. A year ago on this day, I marched in honor of César with Erasmo and Sally Andrade, both long-time advocates of social justice. Erasmo died March 30, 2012.
EL PASO — The beat of drums and shakers echoed off the buildings of downtown El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza Saturday as matachines danced and a few hundred persons chanted “¡Juárez, Juárez, no es cuartel! Fuera ejército de él.”
The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by poet and activist Javier Sicilia settled in at the plaza as the poet told a crowd of several hundred about his son’s killing and stressed once again that the drug-war murders in Mexico are non-discriminatory. If something isn’t done to stop the killings, anyone could be a victim, he said. “It’s a war that no longer distinguishes. Any Mexican can be assassinated, can be a victim of crime or repression,” Sicilia said.
EL PASO, Texas — Dr. Mario G. Obledo’s heart went out to those who had no voice. He fought for decades for the rights of Latinos through civil unrest and through the creation of powerful institutions. On August 18, his heart fought its last battle. The man known by many as the godfather of the Latino movement in the U.S. died at his home in Sacramento, California, of an apparent heart attack. He was 78.
EL PASO, Texas — Waving signs that read “La Lucha Continúa” and “Thank a Farm Worker Today,” hundreds of people marched in honor of the late civil rights activist César Chávez and in protest of the recent Arizona immigration law. “Farm workers rights should be respected, because they are the ones bringing food to the tables,” said 60-year-old Silvestre Galván, who fought alongside Chávez, the founder of the United Farm Workers, during the 1973 grape strikes in Delano, California. Carlos Marentes, director of the Border Farm Workers Center said the annual income of a field worker is about $6,000, far below the federal poverty guidelines of an annual income of $10,000 per person. Marentes pointed out the hazardous working conditions such as exposure to pesticides that harm the health of agriculture workers. “In the crops of chile, particularly in the Luna County, New Mexico, where many of these laborers go to work, more and more toxic chemicals are being used and as a result they have more diseases, especially in the skin of workers,” Marentes said.
EL PASO — Con dolor en sus ojos y una mirada que aún denota rastros de ira, Carlos Mauricio contó a una audiencia atenta como sobrevivió 10 días de secuestro y tortura. El doloroso episodio marcó su vida para siempre y lo inspiró a compartir su historia para que casos como los de él no queden en el olvido y se pueda combatir la impunidad. “Esta no es solo la historia de un sobreviviente y víctima de tortura, es una historia de solidaridad, coraje y amor, de un individuo que paso dos semanas de su vida al borde de la muerte y que fue víctima de la injusticia y la impunidad que existía en El Salvador” le dijo recientemente a una audiencia en la Universidad de Texas en El Paso. Mauricio relata que su día comenzó como cualquier otro. Se levantó como usualmente lo hacía, se vistió y salió tranquilamente hacia su trabajo como profesor en la Universidad de El Salvador.
He told students and faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso recently that he was only allowed near his father, newspaper editor Jacobo Timerman, for three minutes and in that short time he found, “…a man destroyed, both physically and mentally…” who pleaded with his family to continue with their lives as if he would never be freed.