For the duration of the weekend, while FTAA protests surged in Quesbec New Mexico activists camped in tents and cars in the Pancho Villa State Park camping area three miles north of the Mexican border. The wind and consequent sandstorm battered our tents, made it impossible to sleep, and made cooking difficult, but our spirits were high and our energy and vitality drove us hard to work. Our convergence space was an open shelter in the park where we cooked communal meals, shared stories with local folks, danced and drummed, made a puppet, and huddled out of the wind. The park ranger surprised us by letting us camp for free – a bonus! The hope and energy generated from the weekend’s events is living testimony of the importance of resistance to global change. By acting locally we built solidarity between different communities that ordinarily would not come into contact with one another.
Feeding people in the main plaza in Polamas, Mexico was a somewhat spontaneous action that turned into a huge success. Some 200 people were served, many of whom had come great distances for a chance to get into the U.S. People told stories of their repeated attempts and failures to cross the border, and of the money they paid to smugglers with no guarantee of success or safety. An effect of increased militarization of immigration law enforcement on the border has been to bump northbound migrants from traditional, urban crossing zones to more remote and inhospitable regions of the border. The result has been a disturbing increase in the number of migrant deaths in the region due to dangerously high temperatures, dehydration, injury, and exposure. Currently it costs 0 to hitch a ride in an old delapidated truck, drive 3 miles West, and gun it 40 miles north through the desert to the town of Deming, New Mexico where it is more than likely the INS will be waiting on one of the wide open streets to take you back to Mexico. We also discussed the FTAA and its ties to immigration policy and the economy in Mexico.This event was a powerful tactic in building trust and spreading information on a grass roots level.