Why blog?

It's therapeutic... specially for dorks like me who communicate better when they have the chance to process their thoughts, select their words, and write precisely what they want to say. As much as I'm a "talker", I stumble, stutter, and don't always say things right. English as a second language might have something to do with that (unfortunately, I don't think I could blog in Spanish... I lost my grammar in that language). I like to pour out my thoughts and leave it out there in the cosmos (or the world wide web) for other people to mull over...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another wetback story

I'm going to call this guy Pablo... because... well, I know a Pablo - he happens to be one of my cousins. I also have a cousin named Julius Cesar. But that's not what this blog is about. (All of my relatives are either in Venezuela or Canada LOL).

So Pablo grows up in this town in South America, that is in the middle of a Civil War. He is the oldest, and his family is poor. So poor he spends most of his childhood hiding in the woods instead of on his actual farm - because the property was used for a war zone. They had to hide up in the woods for days at a time, and sleep there at night.

They dressed in rags made by their mom, and shoes made from cow rope and cow hide. They ate whatever the fires didn't burn and the trucks didn't run over.

One day Pablo's farm was ambushed in mid day by military trucks, loaded with men firing brutally at the villagers that were trying to defend their land w/ machetes and sticks. So per his mother's instructions, he grabs the baby - less than a year old - and runs into the woods again, assuming the rest of the family was close behind. He hears his dad yell, "Don't you dare run back until you don't hear them anymore!" Up in the mountains, he could from time to time hear the sounds of the trucks and the firearms getting closer, so he would go up further... Carrying his baby brother. Then fear set in. He was running further and further away from what was familiar... He was getting lost.

One night turned to three before he found his way back to the farm in the dark - still carrying his baby brother. He didn't realize that the baby was lifeless - he had probably starved or maybe didn't make it through the cold night. This is where Dad teaches him a lesson about being a man - and orders him to take the shovel and bury his baby brother up in the woods where the baby had died... Maybe that will teach him not to panick, to do better, to pay better attention...

As the years go by, there is no such thing as school or childhood. It's nothing but work - cut wood, peel corn, whatever would bring money home to provide for food. One day as a young teenager he sees once again the military truck pull up to his town. This time he's angry, not afraid. So he doesn't run. He stands there, ready to greet the truck and whatever that brings.

He gets picked up by men w/ AK-47s and loaded into the truck. Then they line up all the boys and do a physical exam. He considers himself unlucky because he passed. They buzz cut his hair and voila! The boy is in the army. No papers to sign. No option.

Basic Training for him is nothing like the glorified boot camp of American movies. Two meals of stale bread and coffee. Dirty buckets of water to shower. Nothing but exercise - till they dropped dead or made it through to be strong. As soon as they are handed real weapons one of his mates commits suicide by blasting his brains out. Apparently his friend was strong physically, but not strong enough mentally...

In the military he ordered to drive up to towns, very similar to the ones he grew up in, and shoot at young men and their fathers... very similar to his own. No options.

Then one night at camp the guerrilla comes in and ambushes the army in their sleep. They fire at everyone, granade the place... they take the commanders that were still alive and slit their throats. He's lying on the floor, witnessing all this. Then they leave, and it gets quiet. And he waits to die. He has shrapnel in his face. He is in pain.

But he doesn't die. What does happen is the sound of 5 other surviving soldiers, struggling to live. They get up and start moving out. Pablo is carrying a man who lost his foot over his shoulders. They are found by a helicopter and air lifted to a hospital.

He gets off on leave and visits his Mom, his sister, and two other brothers. His uncles are a part of the guerrilla. His cousins want to kill him. His family considers him a traitor. He goes into hiding.

He returns to the military and they question his loyalty. Who's side is he on? Does it matter? Was it ever his choice? They give him one warning - and one alone: Disappear. Because if he doesn't follow these orders he will be executed... just in case.

He is living in hiding. An old friend offers him money and a ride to the U.S. He is gone - doesn't think twice.

As he is making arrangements to come to the US, before he even has a chance to consult an embassy, or save money... his vehicle is ambushed. He runs for his life but gets shot. His friend, who is helping him come to the US, rescues him and takes him to an unknown ambulatory (clinic). Three days later, before he was fully recovered, they escape in the night. Injured, he crosses several international borders to come up to the United States. A month after his arrival he applies for asylum.

Now over 16 years later his case is still floating back and forth in court. He has been scammed by a guy with good spanish that took advantage of his illiteracy to take about $6000.00 from a cannery worker and ruined his chances at asylum.

During this time he has received mail from his mother... One of his brothers was murdered. His sister has been raped, repeatedly, over an unknown period of time, until she lost the ability to walk and she is crippled. His next brother is also in the US, in hiding, in proceedings, but no one knows where. His brother changed his last name. His mom tells him, "Don't come back. Whatever you do, don't come back."

Obviously he has a lot of questions... and over the years he has pieced together pieces of information... hunting down newspaper clippings, asking friends and attorneys to read documents to him, to make sense of all that happened.

But he is as far north as he can get. He figures he's safe.

Until he's threatened at work by an unknown gentlemen, who knows Pablo's name - and the name of Pablo's deceased brother, and he receives a warning... And then a month later, he gets a phone call on his cell phone. Same message; same threat that he is not to come back to his country. He shows his cell phone to a friend and they find out the phone number was from Minnesota. He's never been there. He is not even sure where in the United States that is!

But he's one step away from being deported. He's accepted that possibility, if need be. Just not back to his country. Anywhere but there.

Does he ever sleep well at night? Does he ever experience peace? Will he ever feel secure? Have a place to call home? I don't know...

It's here where I would love to say that OF COURSE he will be granted asylum, that he will be given a permanent identity in the US, to live and to work, with a new name if he needs it. But I sincerely don't know; and that's what bugs me right now.

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