One Day Crossing

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Approximately 500,000 illegal Mexican migrants travel on “The Death Train” to the US. With the hope of raising awareness, in this film, the lives of some of these migrants are explored.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: An iron horse is scratching the landscapes of Mexico like a sharp knife. Riding on both sides of it, are thousands of anonymous individuals who are in search of freedom; freedom, what makes life pleasant. They’re just looking after a moment of life. On this journey, death and despair are two things that await many of them. The name of this horse is “Bestia.” Statistics show that every year, it transports about half a million illegal migrants and of this number, about 80 percent are attacked or threatened in one way or another. Let us see some of them and listen to their stories.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “The main reason we take this way is to find a better life and a better situation for our families. The whole Mexico is beautiful and everyone really likes to stay here but if they cannot stay there, they head for the United States of America.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Rubén Figueroa, Human Rights Activists: “Because of abject poverty, these people are forced to go outside the country. But one of the main reasons behind the migration is sort of structural violence, if you like, which has affected whole Central America. This region has fallen victim to this kind of violence. This is the starting point for all migrations in this part of the world. When they enter Mexico, they are subject to a great degree of vulnerability because they come into the country illegally; they are identified easily on their journey but they have no other option and they have to get on the train. Criminal gangs and organized traffickers are waiting for them. To these criminal gangs, the migrants are just like commodities and nothing else.

Take this as an example: Suppose that a person can live in the mountains in Honduras. This person neither pays tax to the government nor has any financial benefit for it; that’s while if this person goes to the US and sends money to his or her family in Mexico, the government imposes tax on it. That’s why I say the migrants are looked upon like commodities. However, in this “economic project,” thousands of people are stuck in the process.”

Narration: COFAMIDE is a society made up of migrant families who have gone to the US but some of them have vanished in the meanwhile and they have still to be accounted for. They are originally from El Salvador. They call on the authorities to find their relatives alive or dead.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Luis Alberto López, Member of COFAMIDE: “The aim this caravan is pursuing is to protect the rights of the migrants because human rights have universal principles.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Luis Alberto López, Member of COFAMIDE: “There are many immigrants who have been put in prison for robbing 20 pesos or a fizzy drink. There are many people in prison who have to receive harsh punishments just because they didn’t enter the US legally.

I myself am looking for my brother, Juan Carlos Lopez Martins, who left El Salvador in 2001. He left home like all other migrants, dreaming to get the US. It’s a dream that most of the time you have to pay dearly for. He left for the US after a series of earthquakes in El Salvador ruined completely the home we were living in. He hoped that he would build a house for our parents and provide them with a decent life. We are the victim of this condition. Where are our families? This is our slogan and we will keep fighting until we find them. We will keep fighting even if we find them because there are many families suffering from the same problem. There are 18 cases like my brother’s and we decide to get together calling on the authorities to find them. Now, we have realized that there are even more families like us. We founded COFAMIDE in 2006 and realized many bitter facts revolving this issue. In the beginning, we were just looking for our own families, but later on we got familiar with the problems of the other migrants; they are subject to rape, kidnapping or even murder. All these issues just gave us more power to go on.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Anita Celaya, Member of COFAMIDE: “The absence of my son makes me very sad and this issue makes me more eager to join the campaign. What shall we as mothers do in Central America to make them look for our children? Shall we be silent? No, we won’t. We mothers are the voice of the voiceless; we are the voice of all those who have been buried in mass graves.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Luis Alberto López, Member of COFAMIDE: “When I lost my brother, I no longer liked the Mexicans and I blamed all of them for it. I told myself, “How is it possible that they treat people like these?” But as I got much involved in this project and saw that there were some people who protected the migrants, my attitude changed, especially when I met “the Patronas” a group of people who make food for the migrants on the train; I found out that there were some people trying to provide the migrants with shelter, blankets or mattress; I found out that there were good-hearted people in Mexico and the Patronas were a prime example.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Anita Celaya, Member of COFAMIDE: “To us, the Patronas are great women who boost our morale. They have this very good message that we must love each other and that if they have killed our children, we must not let them kill our hope.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Priest: “For all the families, those who are looking for their children or their spouses, this is a simple place for the Patronas and as you can see, this simple place is full of love and hope. I would like to thank you for coming here once more.”

Narration: The Patronas are a group of women in Veracruz state who have voluntarily been giving food to migrants on Bestia for more than twenty years.

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “When we started, we didn’t know what would happen next. We didn’t have the required information so as to give food and water to migrant brothers and sisters.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “It was 1995. Everything began with my mother and two of my elder sisters. My sisters were on the way home. They had bought bread and milk. They wanted to cross the railway but they couldn’t because a train was approaching and they had to wait. They stood beside the railway. The train was getting near. There were a crowd of people on it. The first wagon passed by and my sisters were staring at those who had grabbed the train tightly. They didn’t know whether to ask for food or not. The next wagon arrived. They began to shout that they were hungry and my sisters were hesitant to give the bread and milk to them. When the third wagon arrived, my sisters gave what they had bought to the passengers because they shouted louder that they were hungry and they could reach out their hands to grab the food. One of my sisters gave them the milk and the other one the bread. They decided to come back and buy more bread but they had no money left. My mother saw them and asked them what had happened. My sisters answered that they came across a train on top of which there were a crowd of people shouting that they were hungry and as a result, my sisters had to give them the bread and milk. They thought that my mother would punish them for what they had done but to their surprise, she told them, “What you did was right. God knows how many days they haven’t eaten.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Doña Leonila Vázquez, The Patrona, Veracruz State: “The bread and milk we gave them made us closer to each other. We understood their thirst and hunger more. I told my daughters that we had to do whatever written in the Bible; to give food to those who are hungry and water to those who are thirsty. We did according to the book.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “That evening, my mother talked with her daughters, that is us. She said, “You know girls, we’re going to make food.” So, one of us began to prepare rice and the other one beans. We made 15 evening meals. When my mother heard the train coming, we went out and gave the meals to the migrants.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Doña Leonila Vázquez, The Patrona, Veracruz State: “It was only about 50 meters from the kitchen to the railway. We had to carry the meals up to there. The water container was very heavy for us to carry. That’s why we are close by. We had to get to the train as soon as possible. If we were going to talk to each other or do something else, we would miss the train. So we went out of the house fast so as to get to the train.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “My mother signaled the train driver to slow down and as the driver saw my mother and her friends waiting with water bottles, he put on the brakes and this way they managed to give the meals to the migrants.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “There were around 20 migrants and the meals were not enough. That day, my mother realized that she had to make more meals.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Doña Leonila Vázquez, The Patrona, Veracruz State: “When we came back home, we were happy that we had given all the meals and nothing had gone waste.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “On the train there were some families with children. The children were about 10 to 12 and it made me sad because I didn’t want my child to go on the train. Seeing the families, I decided to come here and give a help.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “In the beginning, we had some problems with people as we wanted to give food to the asylum seekers just here. They began to poison that friendly atmosphere by talking bad about us to our husbands and children. They told our husbands, “How can you let your wives meet those whom you don’t know; maybe they’re criminals or they might make your wives fall in love with them.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “Many said that we did such a thing at home because we had no other jobs to do; they said that our husbands had no control over us. To cut the long story short, many blamed us. They blamed us for helping men we didn’t know and they accused us of receiving money to help them go to the US illegally. At first, helping them was like a sin.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “They began to tell us that our job was illegal and it was a crime. We asked them, “How can it be a crime to give food to a person who is hungry?” We told them that for a person with a home, job and family who enjoys good health as well, there is no reason to be unsatisfied or unhappy but these people have left their family members, children, home and comfort just to find a job and to provide their family with a decent life. What we want to tell others is this point: you don’t have to be well-off in order to help others because the help you give out of love gets multiplied.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “I used to check travelers’ tickets in Honduras but now no one even gets on the bus. Now our supervisor is also working because he cannot earn enough money so as to buy food for himself. As I said, economic situation is at an all-time low. Even the elderly don’t get on the bus because they cannot afford it. Many are out of job. Well, my cousin and I went out of the country. We had no job. It was about six months that we had been out of work.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “If people possessed what they need in their own country, they wouldn’t have to leave their homes and go abroad while most of the time they cannot defend their own rights. We give them services; we offer them help and sympathy; we welcome these people who need to get some rest on their way to the US. They don’t want to stay in Mexico.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “When the migrants arrive in - injured and exhausted - we give them a place to take a rest. Then after a day or two, they say that they want to go on because they haven’t come here to stay but they want to go to the US. As a migrant once said, the only reason to leave the country is not to have fun abroad but to find a better future for your children.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “I have two children and I have to raise them. One of them is two years and a half and the other one is eight months. I called them yesterday. They said that they were OK and told me not to be worried about them and things like that. That’s why I’m here. I’m in search of a better life.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “To be honest, I wouldn’t go, no, I wouldn’t go.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “We can go to other places and earn money but without our families and away from our traditions and happy moments that we can have here at home. What I have learned from the migrants is that as they arrive here, they are sad and I usually ask them what they are thinking about. They say, “If we were at home now, we would be drinking coffee with our parents but they are not with us right now.” This issue makes me sad because although they are leaving their own country, they feel dependent on their own families.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “I’ve already told you that it’s only for two years. This is what I think about and when I do what I’m supposed to do, I will come back home. I have a house of my own but it has no fencing and I have to put a fence around it. I also have to buy a car to work with it. I can work with a car and make money this way.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “If they stay even for three or four days, that’s because they want to earn some money so as to go on their journey. They don’t stay in a place for a long time; if they stay in a place, that’s because they want to make some money to get to the US.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “Look, we set off with 1,500 lempiras in our pockets but as we reached the Honduras-Guatemala border, we had to exchange our lempiras for pesos. In the meanwhile, unfortunately they got all our money. About eight people rounded on us and took all our money. They work like this; they’re like a mafia, an organization. Well, our uncles reached the US many years ago, in 1980s and they were very lucky. It can be said that migration is kind of our ancestral tradition. We can find a better job there.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “I always say that in your life you get some point where you will realize that you cannot have all things. You just get some point and you cannot find anyone helpful and you see that they won’t give you a job as easily as you would think of. And at that point, you will realize that it’s not easy to live a life.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “My brother is living in Atlanta. He has been there for seven years. He made himself a house and bought a land and now he wants to go back. He’s in the construction industry; he builds metal roofs and ceilings. It was about 2004 when he went to the US. I thought he went by train and I know it was difficult for him. When you go by train, you might be attacked and robbed. It’s not safe at all and there are a few people who manage to return. Imagine you have to go through interminable checkpoints; you have to bear hunger and you might walk for three or four days and you might have no food or water with you. The only thing you can do is to grin and bear it.

That’s why I don’t like trains and in fact I’m afraid of them. I’ve never got on them. There is much violence involved in it. It’s a pity but the truth has to be told. There are people who lose their arms or legs. There are people who go to sleep when they’re on top of the train and therefore they fall to the ground. Imagine you cannot sleep for three and four days. Then you fall into sleep and fall from the train and then you don’t survive to tell what you have gone through. There are many people who cannot return.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Norma Romero, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “When someone fall from a train, when someone gets hurt, we become sad because they are human beings and such things should not happen to them.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] José Neri, A Migrant to the US: “We go to Córdoba and from there to Mexico City and then we’ll see if we can go further or not. It’s like an adventure because it depends on how things will turn up. Every day many people cross here. Every day, every day. As some manage to cross, some fail to cross and therefore they have to come back. If we fail to cross the border, we go on looking for a job and continue our struggle.”

TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Antonia Romero, Las Patronas, Veracruz State: “Here, all women have a duty to do and they take turns in doing things. I take my younger son with me and my elder son stay here to run our little business until it becomes eight o’clock. I’m usually informed whether the train comes or not. I’ll stay here if the train doesn’t come. My job is to come here at 10 o’clock in the morning. I prepare the rice and the bean here and I talk to the migrants if I come across any of them or I do something else if necessary. If there are about 50 or 100 migrants, we prepare 10 kilos of rice and 10 kilos of bean. At the moment, the number of the migrants has decreased. In the past, we used to prepare 20 kilos of rice and 20 kilos of bean because between 800 to 1,000 migrants used to come with the train.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Doña Leonila Vázquez, The Patronas, Veracruz State: “We are here because we want to help them, because we see them without any help.”

Narration: Cofemin is an oasis in the middle of the road. There is a house in Mexico City that provides women and migrant families with shelter. It gives psychological and health supports as well. The house also gives the migrants education.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “I’m 30 years old. It’s about one month I’ve left the country. I wanted to make progress but I couldn’t. I don’t want to go on at any price. I’m not going back to Honduras. I want to stay in Mexico and work. I want to work as a cook in a company if I can get the qualifications. I cannot go back to Honduras even if I decide to do so. What I want is a decent job to earn enough money in order to support my family but you know it’s not easy when you are not educated.

A man from Central America, from El Salvador taught me this job because there was nothing else to do. There was nothing, to be honest. When there are tourists, they can be sold, of course not many of them. In our city, people kill each other for an apple or a banana. There is severe poverty there.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “We have to help them in different ways: first of all, to provide them with security so as to feel relax at home. They must feel that they are protected and that they enjoy all the psychological support. They must feel that they are protected and that they are heard and that they are welcomed. They must feel that they possess something and that things are getting better emotionally or physically so as their fear, sadness, grief and pain will be less and less. Little by little, we’ll help them discover what they want really in life; we’ll help them see if they want to go on or to stay; to know how they see themselves in this city. They will experience a short process meanwhile. Here, we’ll help them find out what they really want. When they realize that they will have no chance to have a better economic or emotional condition, then we suggest them our workshop. We’ll help them select what will be helpful for them.”

TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “When I came here, I was sick and broken. Thank God I’m fine now.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “We have to deal with big challenges here; it’s not easy to find a way to help them reach peace and tranquility despite all their fragile physical and emotional conditions they have. We help those who want to stay in Mexico City to get the necessary education through different workshops we hold. This way they know a profession so as to start a new career. By and large, they stay here for one to three months. Then if we see that they can go outside and find a place to live and have a life, then we begin to let them out little by little. If we stay in our country we will die because of crimes and poverty. We’d better go abroad even if we lose our lives when we’re on our way to the US. This is what I usually hear.

I ask them why they have come here. They answer that they are persecuted; that criminals threaten and put pressure on their children to join their bands.

“We had a job, but our expenses were high, and we couldn’t cope anymore.”

Therefore poverty …

The reason for them to choose to migrate and find themselves in these kinds of places is that they constantly face destitution and crime.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “One cannot survive there. They blackmail you even for making handicrafts. I left the country because I couldn’t pay those criminal bands on time. This is to the point that they will go to your family and they settle the affair with your daughters. They have a list like the one you have here, for census. On that list are the names of your father, mother, brothers, sisters etc. You have a small booth and you don’t earn much. You may earn a few Lamiras, 20 to 30, which is not enough to buy your daily food.

One kilo of beans costs 30 to 40 Lamiras which does it for one day; and to earn it, you have to endure a lot of hardship. And sometimes you don’t even make that much. Some days you even return to your hut with nothing at all.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “People always complain about the city and the Federal police and some members of the Federal immigration services for cooperating with criminal bands; for committing cruel acts in cooperation with criminals.”

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “When we were arrested by the police, we were asked for our phone number. We answered that we did not have any phone number. They then said, “Who will be in charge of your needs in this country?” We replied that there was no one. One policeman then asked, “Do you think that you will make it?” We replied that we were after finding work. He said, “No! You have to pay us! In case you don’t know, I tell you that everyone pays us in order to pass through!” We had no money to pay him. He then asked us to expose all our valuable belongings. He said, “If the value amounts to the money you have to pay, you can go; otherwise, you’ll have to pay us in another way!”

At that time, my husband showed him everything we had and told him: “Don’t touch her”. He pulled out money from his belt and said, “I have Lamiras, I don’t have Mexican cash.”

The policeman said, “Give 1,000 Lamiras and you can leave with your wife; and if you don’t pay 1,000 Lamiras, your wife will have to stay, and as for you, I will release the dogs!”

My husband replied, “I don’t have 1,000 Lamiras, but I do have 900 Lamiras, and I also give you a mobile phone, which is all I have; so you allow us both to leave; or let my wife go and I will stay and do whatever you want.””

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “I don’t see a promising prospect of hope. I rather see violence increasing in particular against women, whether they are mothers or celibates.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “On our way here, we saw how they kidnapped children from the train. We saw how people were raped and murdered. When we got on the train, we did not notice that criminals were getting on too. They started taking pictures of us! We wanted to reach the first railway car, where the train engine was, thinking they wouldn’t catch us. My husband didn’t make it and fell off the train. They started beating him, cursing him for wanting to escape. They shot him twice, so that he couldn’t move. Then they hit him with a firearm in the mouth so that he couldn’t speak. They took all our valuable belongings, some Lempiras, and 2000 Mexican pesos that we had exchanged with Lempiras. They took all from us and said that if we filed a complaint they had our pictures and knew where we had come from and would even kill our family. I was in company of one of my friends who was not as lucky as I was. They locked us in a car and started to rape my friend; and I grappled with another guy. He took me and threw me to the wall. I fainted and was unconscious for 15 minutes. When I woke up, I noticed that I was bleeding. At that time, I was three months pregnant and I lost my child. My husband was unconscious with a broken jaw. Others were shouting that he was already dead but they wanted to make sure by shooting him one last time. But the patrol cars arrived and my husband was spared. We were saved. I rushed towards my husband. I was thinking of the two bullets that he had received, and that he might be dead by now. But that was a big lie, because he was alive. As for that girl that was raped, it was too late. I hadn’t been able to help her out. It was all my fault that I couldn’t do anything for her. Unfortunately, in that incident some people lost their lives.”

TIME CODE: 40:00_46:15

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Julia Suarez, Migrant from Honduras: “Some children disappeared, taken away .… Poor kids! I lost everything I had brought with me, including all my money. One may suffer material loss, but it can be restituted; I lost my entire life though, a life that was moving forward and may not be restituted anymore.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “This criminal gang has operated almost three times in this same fashion.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Ruben Figueroa, Human Rights Activist: “We, as defenders of human rights, have come to the conclusion that in these attacks, the immigrants have always encountered the worst fates.

Because in Mexico we have had great atrocities such as the San Fernando Tamaulipas Massacre, where 72 people were brutally murdered, which was one of the big atrocities in Mexico.

There are no preventive measures against such crimes. We know that at some certain locations trains are attacked and the travelers are terrorized. And we know that this thing will continue and we have even announced and warned against it, but the government never takes any preventive measures.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] María Magdalena Silva, Director of COFEMIN: “One of the solutions is to prevent immigrants from using the train, because trains have caused many deaths. Sometimes train collisions have caused many to be torn into pieces.”

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Jose Louis Cruz, Immigrant from El Salvador: “Few months after my birth my father killed my mother, and my grandmother took me to the capital, fearing the same fate for me. The person who took care of me and my education was one of her friends.

My grandmother had a friend who was our neighbor, and when my grandmother died, that friend decided to look after me, and she did so until I left that neighborhood. Our place was very dangerous; it was full of Maras (a mischievous group of criminals in Central America) and was considered almost as their capital. They knew that I used to live alone and wanted to hire me to conceal firearms and drugs for them. When I refused, they threatened to kill me. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have left my country.

We knew that the trains would sometimes stop in the middle of the mountains or when encountering another train or at a warning sign or things like that, and then the bands would arrive with their vans and kidnap people.

For this reason, we decided to go separate from the others and, had the train stopped, we would have got off and hidden in the hills. We would pass by like this.

But that didn’t happen. In the morning of the first of December, the train had an accident and my foot got caught in the wheel, and it seemed to be locked. I had lost 4 fingers. All was left was this much in the end; Over here some of my flesh got torn off. They told me that since my injury had remained open for too long, they had to amputate it.

In the federal district, with the little money I had, I purchased some cookies and sold them and earned some money. I managed to rent a room. When the landlord saw how diligent I was, working the entire day, he decided to double the rent! I used to fill my sports shoe halfway with cardboard, put my amputated foot into it, tie it tightly and continue selling cookies; because I needed the money for my treatment. I used to sell the same ordinary cookies sold in shops, with the difference that I bought them cheaper.

Those days I persevered a lot, and kept on selling the entire day till late at night. I endured a month and a half till my injury opened up and started bleeding. I was told that I had to rest; otherwise, they would have to amputate it again. I was persuaded to put my job aside for a while and rest. When all I had saved went to the rent, I got on the streets and idled for three days. My injury had opened and I was in front of this place when he noticed me! I approached him to ask for water and he gave me some. He spoke to me and he asked about everything to see in what way he could help me; and he gave me a place here to live. I do drawings and I love to do graffiti drawings, I use aerosols. I can draw with oil paint, water color, color pencils etc. I have always loved it and I still do drawings. Religious nuns will help me with prosthesis so that I can walk easier and find a job that has a better pay and requires less effort. They say it is like a boot that goes from here, like a real foot.

Well, I guess I somehow love to do art work. So, let’s see what kind of a place I can find to establish myself and start doing something. I should look for some place to live in, an apartment for example. But here it is usually hard to find one because it involves other prerequisites: a guarantor and many other documents, which make it a bit difficult. That’s why I am constantly looking to see what’s available. Here, usually the rent tariffs are higher than 1,500 pesos.

I wonder how I can make this money. I am economizing and counting on my savings from the sale of paintings, cookies and biscuits. Yes, I used to skate; I could even glide on guardrails, do stunts and jump over tall obstacles; I had learned to do them. I travelled everywhere on skates and it represented my vehicle, on the streets and where I lived.

Sometimes, I tell them that I could drop the sticks and jump again, and I wouldn’t fall! But the way I am now, I cannot be able anymore. Sometimes, I feel depressed when I see how my hands jump over the ski sticks. It feels like your hands have been tied up; that you are absorbed by the desire but cannot ski anymore.”

Narration: Julia started a new life with her family in Veracruz. Jose Louis can walk again with his prosthesis and has been able to acquire the Mexican citizenship. We lost track of Jose (Neri) in the north of Mexico. We don’t know whether he made it across the border to meet again with his brother in Atlanta.

SOUNDBITE [Spanish] Maria Magdalena Silva, Manager of COFFEAMAN Refugee Center: “Sometimes we are told that they have arrived in the United States, and sometimes we are told that they haven’t. Other times, we don’t know whether they have returned to their country, or entered the United States before being deported or as we say here, they stay in limbo.”


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