One of the 7 Goals of Laudato Si is to respond to the Cry of the Poor. Tony O'Connor, on the Mexican Border, writes that the Cry of the Earth – drought in Honduras and Guatemala compounded by the Climate Crisis, and political instability, leads to the Cry of the Poor – of those he is working with.
I got a call the other day asking if I could get someone to find out the situation of a Venezuelan migrant youth with COVID interned in the Carrion Hospital, Callao, Peru. That's right they asked me!! I left Peru in 2007! However, Pigeon Post is pretty sharp in Callao. We were able to report on the girl to her family in Valencia, Venezuela. That's connection.
I was also really affected emotionally by news of 130 migrants from Africa drowned in the Mediterranean last month. It really got to me. That also is connection!
Then to top it off, one of my pet budgies (budgerigars) died mysteriously recently. I was sorry about that. Then its companion got sick. It really broke my heart to watch it die over a day. Seeing a creature have its life force sucked out broke through the hardened crust of my insensitivity. A budgie for God's sake! For me this was a real connection!
There is that saying when someone says something and you want to ignore or write it off. You just say "Yeah Right"
Migrants sleeping in the Streets
Of the 22,000 Central American unaccompanied migrant minors who crossed the Mexican – USA border in March 2021 and in April a slightly bigger number there are 22,000 stories. Not to mention other stories of families and adults who crossed as well. Too many stories. The border reality has its ebbs and flow. That is what I have found with nearly 8 years here. Things don't change much .There is just a variation in what happens.
Our border is a Bottleneck. There is congestion: no breathing space; multiple frontiers; drought; gangs; cartels; coyotes; kidnapping; trafficking. There is desperation and a bravery so daring in migrants that it verges on madness.
Take Mariela and her companion Martha from Guatemala. She signed up with coyotes in Puebla, Mexico, travelled with far too many people in a covered trailer, a four day journey without food and with insufficient air. Fresh air was made available very seldom when they opened the back door. Some children died. Mariela got fainting spells and still does.
She finally crossed the Rio Grande into the USA with her two children. They were bussed by U.S. Border Patrol from one center to another along the border, one light meal a day, fingerprinted and name-registered at each center, sleeping on the floor, days which grew into three weeks. Finally in Laredo they were deported to Mexico. Someone helped them to get to Reynosa and from there to a small village called Ebanitos in Rio Bravo, Mexico, a very isolated place where she temporally lives in fear of being kidnapped by the cartels.
She struggles still to breathe but with grit never loses the hope of crossing once again the Rio Grande and connecting with her husband in Mississippi. The trip cost her $7,000 US, paid to coyotes. There is nothing in Guatemala to return to other then debt. That's just one story.
Mariela and Martha Los Ebanitos - co-workers of Tony O'Connor
Word has it that the Biden Government is trying to clean up their act of this practice which comes from the famous Trump executive order (Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,) no asylum during the pandemic. But meanwhile it leaves desperate parents once within the US to separate from their children leaving them to be taken into custody in the US whilst they the parents are eventually deported.
The video on Wilton Obregon and the other "Five little girls down by the river" are commentaries on this variation of the moment a today plight of migrants and the need for government to remedy tragic brokenness. See video here – a lost boy, desperately looking for help. And second Video here - "Five little girls down by the river"
The Situation: a Run Down
There is too much happening here on the border. Besides, the pandemic has in many ways converted us back to a third world country. Things don't work smoothly any more , We are in flux, We are isolated from all that goes on in Central America and Mexico yet we are somehow much more connected.
Guatemala with a drought and where food does not grow well anymore; Honduras with gangs and violence; El Salvador with a "rich and poor gap" and many poor; Mexico, at least here on its nor-eastern border with military, warring gangs, kidnapping, ransoms, daily violence, people trafficking.
Because of the congestion of peoples: Africans; Caribbeans; South and Central Americans; and Asians, it is congestion but in a strange way it is also connection.
Migrants - Reynosa - Mexico
The US government is trying to be humane but also to curb the excessive inflow for the moment of asylum seekers, making deals with Mexico and the northern triangle countries. All is in flux. Only in time will things settle down somewhat in an otherwise broken migration system in a very broken pandemic world.
Meanwhile the coyote boats cross the Rio Grande bringing great numbers at $900.00 US a pop and asylum seekers are processed or not processed in only what is possible, a chaotic dynamic to say the least.
third video - migrant smuggling on the Border
For our part we are situated very much on the fringe of this. It is easy for the run of the mill to live oblivious to all, not even hearing the many stories. All these videos we would not see. We remotely could hear about it. It is only the reporters from the north who bring it all to the light of day but for their public in the north and the world. Not so much here.
We are connected
Here in San Felipe we do connect with the migrants over and up the river, Rio Bravo, Reynosa, Camargo, Progreso, el Empalme. We also reach out to those who wander the streets of Matamoros, Tamaulipas sending to both areas basic necessities, our insignificant contributions compared to the needs of so many people. We don't see them physically but see them from afar. Our hearts are connected. Our hearts see them.
The unaccompanied Central American Minors, we reach out to cybernetically. San Felipe de Jesus Fourth video. [editor: Tony O'Connor's Parish]
We remember how their predecessors who used to come here on a daily basis in groups expressed themselves before the pandemic. We remember, what sent them into silence and what made them cry. We remember the advice we would give them and how we made them laugh.
Now we reach out to them on internet , smiling and singing and reaching out into a laptop screen, not seeing them but just little boxes representing the different centers that are receiving our transmission. They can see us. We can't see them. We speak to their faith and more so we try to raise their hopes. They are not alone. There will be progress in their process. They must pray. There will be a journey north in the near distant future. Their family will be waiting to receive them
Connections again - Ironically that dying little budgie has been the key for me as it nestled up to a Ziploc plastic bag of warm water which in the end could not save it from having the life force sucked out. It's dying took me to recognize the connection we all have to the earth and to all life. Nothing but nothing is "Yeah Right" There is definitely a connection to all this, a truth which calls us forth to reach out in hope and solidarity.
Here is nature's proof. After the Texan freeze when most plants seemingly gave up hope and burnt up. Many are connecting now with life's force and from under the ground are shooting forth a mass of green. Green is the color of hope. There is no "yeah right" about it. Hope springs forth ever-Green
Hope springs forth - ever Green