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A YEAR OF DEATHS ON THE ARIZONA DESERT (2004-2005)

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  • Peter S. Lopez de Aztlan
    Gracias to Marianne Rivera for the link: ~ http://www.ciepac.org/bulletins/ingles/ing498.htm#tabla1 Chiapas al Día, No. 498 CIEPAC
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 20, 2006
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      Gracias to Marianne Rivera for the link: ~<riveram@...> 
       
       
      Chiapas al Día, No. 498
      CIEPAC  Chiapas, México
      March 15th, 2006 
       
      A YEAR OF DEATHS ON THE ARIZONA DESERT (2004-2005)
       
      Migrating from or through Mexico to the United States without visas, 473 persons died last year along the border before reaching their destination.  Most died of exposure to the elements (i.e., they froze to death in the mountains or died from heat stroke and dehydration in the desert or they drownedin canals or rivers).  Some were murdered.  The 10-year total of border-area migrant deaths is over 3,000.  They died looking for work.  Looking for one of the 4-D jobs (dirty, dangerous, dull, domestic) that Americans disdain.  At home in Mexico and Central America meanwhile, economic policies have destroyed millions of jobs in the countryside and in the cities . 
       
      A fact studiously ignored in the United States (see, for example, Time magazine’s February 6, 2006 cover story on migration), is that the US has promoted the same economic policies that have wrought disaster.  But the chickens have come home to roost with a vengeance.  There has been a significant upsurge (300% in ten years) of emigration from Mexico and Central America.  People can't find jobs at home and American policy makers shun asking why.
       
      The response in the US has been a partial gamut of options: beefed-up border security, raising walls, threats of sanctions to employers who hire undocumented migrants, persecuting day laborers in Wal-Mart parking lots.  All options are exercised.  Except one.  The only one that would make a significant advance in solving the migratory crisis, i.e., a thorough revision of economic policies.  Open-market, neoliberal policies enshrined in free-trade agreements make it illegal for Mexico and the Central American countries to protect certain strategic and vulnerable parts of their economies.  Protecting economies would entail the use of tariffs and duties to keep out competing goods from (principally) the United States.  Yet by protecting their economies, countries such as Mexico would be able to resume successful industrialization programs that created jobs.  Likewise, protecting the rural sector from cheap, highly subsidized, US agricultural products would help reestablish livelihoods on small farms, allow people to stay on the land and preclude the need to migrate to survive.
       
      Yet it appears that exploring such options, the real root cause of emigration, is verboten in the United States.  It’s not even seriously discussed in academic circles. 
       
      While the blinders remain on, “sealing the border” will continue to be an attractive alternative for American policy makers, even though it is certain to fail in the long run.  Other stopgap measures, such as President Bush’s “guest worker” program, and similar initiatives pending before the US Congress, will not make more than a token dent in granting legal status to a fraction of the estimated 500,000 Mexicans who, without visas, cross the border successfully every year and find jobs.
       
      While hundreds of thousands of migrants succeed, hundreds die every year.  Studying the following list is one way to comprehend the human tragedy transpiring as summertime temperatures on the desert reach 118-120 degrees F. (48-49 degrees C.).  It is only a partial register of the people who died in fiscal year 2004-2005, since it was gathered along a single stretch of the 2,000 mi (3,200 km) border, i.e., the busy Arizona sector. 
       
      In addition, most human and migrant rights activists say that the number of dead grossly underestimates the true number of migrants who die each year, since the register is only of bodies found.  Many more migrants are separated from the group because some physical impairment prevents continuing the walk, get disoriented in unfamiliar desert or mountainous terrain and eventually die from exposure, but their remains are never found.  It is common for migrants to relate that they frequently passed human remains during their trek.
       
      Although the economic policies that the United States promotes (and demands) of Mexico and Central America are behind the hundreds of tragedies compiled in the following table, reading the names of the dead and the circumstances in which they died can only lead us to question why the Mexican government doesn’t do more to protect its citizens.  Why aren't serious diplomatic efforts made to stop immoral operations that force migrants into inhospitable terrain in a vain attempt to “discourage” crossings?  Why does the Fox government back down to American pressure and stop the distribution of pamphlets with life-saving tips on surviving the 3-4 day trek from the border?  Can we imagine what the response of the US government would be if this many Americans were, for whatever reason, needlessly losing their lives?
       
                  The following list was compiled by the Tucson groups Human Rights Coalition / Without Borders Indigenous Alliance, for fiscal 2004-2005 (October 1—September 30).
       
       
      Email: coalicion@...   
       
      P.O. Box 1286
      Tucson, Arizona 85702, EEUU
      Tel:  520-770-1373
      To see the original table, visit:
       
      Migrant Deaths
       
      Introduction
       
      Since border policies were implemented in the 1990s, it is estimated that over 3,000 migrants have lost their lives on the U.S./México border. As we continue to comfort their families who mourn, let us also promise to seek justice, peace, and an end to the walls that separate and divide our communities. May we honor the spirits of those who have died with the commitment to peace and dignity on our borders.
       
      In an effort to honor every life that has been lost on our borders, Coalición de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras records the number of deaths that are occurring on our border. With the cooperation of Arizona county officials, as well as the Consular offices of México, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Brazil, we are attempting to put names to our migrant sisters and brothers, and bear witness to the deaths of those unknown, of whom there are hundreds buried in our communities.
       
      Deaths in the News
       
      Check the News page to see recent articles about migrant deaths.
       
      This Year's Deaths
       
      Coalción de Derechos Humanos will count the deaths in Arizona for the fiscal year, which begins October 1st, and ends September 30th of every year. This will be so that we can compare the numbers put out by the Border Patrol with those we gather, in collaboration with the Consular offices and county medical examiners.
       
       
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      Miguel Pickard
      Center for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action, A.C.
      CIEPAC is a member of the, Mexican Network of Action Against Free Trade (RMALC) www.rmalc.org.mx, Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA ) www.sitiocompa.org, Network for Peace in Chiapas, Week for Biological and Cultural Diversity www.laneta.apc.org/biodiversidad, the International Forum "The People Before Globalization", Alternatives to the PPP http://usuarios.tripod.es/xelaju/xela.htm, and of the Mexican Alliance for Self-Determination (AMAP) that is the Mexican network against the Puebla Panama Plan. CIEPAC is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Economic Justice http://www.econjustice.net and the Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA) http://www.epica.org. Center for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action, A.C.
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      Thank you! CIEPAC
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      Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria
      CIEPAC, A.C.
      Calle de la Primavera # 6
      Barrio de la Merced
      29240 San Cristóbal, Chiapas, MEXICO
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      Translated by Miguel Pickard for CIEPAC, A. C.
      Please direct website comments to webmaster@...
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      Related Article:
      Children of Immigrants: What Does the Future Hold?
      Published: March 13, 2006
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      c/s


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