Monthly Archives: August 2013

La Bestia’s tragedy, one more graphic example of our broken immigration system

La Bestia derailed

La Bestia derailed (photo by Reuters)

On Sunday, August 25 the infamous train “La Bestia” (“The Beast”) crashed in the Mexican state of Tabasco. Early media reports indicate that at least 5 people died and 35 were injured, 16 gravely, with the death toll likely to rise. Emergency workers were attempting to reach the remote site, and soon after the accident President Enrique Peña Nieto expressed his condolences for those affected through his Twitter account.

While the accident is shocking and its human toll terrible, Sunday’s incident is just one in the long list of tragedies associated with this train, regularly used by undocumented Central American migrants as they attempt to make their way to the United States through Mexican territory. A recent film by Pedro Ultreras documents the terrible travel conditions and the many risks associated with a journey on “La Bestia” for passengers who literally risk life and limb in this dangerous venture. Continue reading

Remembering the San Patricios, “the Irish soldiers of Mexico”

Plaque commemorating the San Patricio Martyrs in Mexico City.

Plaque commemorating the San Patricio Martyrs in Mexico City.

As US troops invaded Mexico City, the August 20, 1847 battle of Churubusco marked an important turning point in the city’s defense. Today the results of that war are known to many (but, not surprisingly, not to all). In its aftermath the territory comprising the current states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and other regions (about half of Mexico’s territory) was ceded to the United States.

A lesser known chapter of this war is the role played by a battalion of Irish soldiers, recent immigrants to the United States, who deserted the US army to fight on the side of their fellow-Catholic Mexicans. As the references embedded in this post indicate, religion was not the only reason for these Irish to change sides. Questioning of the Polk administration’s expansionist and racist policies was also central to their defection. Continue reading

On musical reinterpretation

One of the things that calls my attention is the way in which songs are taken on by different cultures and traditions. Here are some of my favorite examples.

The Peruvian waltz, “Que nadie sepa mi sufrir” by Argentineans Angel Cabral and Enrique Dizeo, here interpreted by Agustín Irusta:


But made internationally famous as “La foule” by Edith Piaf: Continue reading

The #Dream9 “Publicity Stunt” to Improve the Immigration Reform Debate

#Dream9 at Nogales Border Crossing

#Dream9 at Nogales Border Crossing (from “In These Times”)

As Congress enjoys a well-deserved vacation and lobbyists of all persuasions are on high-gear pushing many causes, including different approaches to Immigration Reform, 9 DREAMers – Claudia Amaro, Mario Félix, Adriana Gil Díaz, Luis León, Lulú Martínez, Lizbeth Mateo, María Peniche, Ceferino Santiago and Marco Saavedra – have taken the immigration debate to a new front at the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, a facility owned by Corrections Corporation of America, the self-proclaimed

private corrections management provider of choice for federal, state and local agencies since 1983… the fifth-largest corrections system in the nation, behind only the federal government and three states… hous[ing] more than 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities… with a total bed capacity of more than 90,000.

Dressed in caps and gowns, the nine attempted to enter the United States through the Nogales border crossing on July 22 only to be detained. Six of the nine had either been deported or forced to leave the US earlier, while three of them – Martínez, Mateo and Saavedra – purposefully left the US with the specific purpose of participating in this event.

On July 17 Lizbeth Mateo posted this video from Mexico explaining her reasons to purposefully leave the US. Continue reading