- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by Jeremy Schwartz
Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006 at 2:55 PM
A place were La Migra are not jackbooted thugs? Hey they are only actors here!
IXMIQUILPAN, Mexico - On a misty, moonless night, the group scurried down the canyon wall, their feet slipping in the ankle-deep mud. The sirens grew louder as their guide, clad in a ski mask and known only as Poncho, urged them to run faster. "Hurry up! The Border Patrol is coming!"
A couple in matching designer tennis outfits loped awkwardly along, the boyfriend clutching a digital video camera and struggling to keep the screen steady.
The 20 or so people fleeing the Border Patrol aren't undocumented immigrants. They're tourists about 700 miles from the border. Most are well-heeled professionals more likely to travel to the United States in an airplane than on foot.
They've each paid 150 pesos, or about , for what is perhaps Mexico's strangest tourist attraction: a night as an undocumented immigrant crossing the Rio Grande.
Advertising for the mock journey, which takes place at a nature park in the central state of Hidalgo, tells the pretend immigrants to "Make fun of the Border Patrol!" and to "Cross the border as an extreme sport!"
The organizers say they are trying to build empathy for migrants by putting people in their shoes.
And the organizers, members of a Hnahnu indigenous community, speak from experience. Leaders estimate as many as 90 percent of the 2,500-person community have made the journey to the United States, most ending up in the boomtown of Las Vegas.
"We do this to show the people what it's like, to make them more conscious," said Hnahnu elder Luis Santiago Hernandez, who has crossed more than five times. Santiago said that although they try to make the experience authentic, "it's not even 10 percent of the real thing."
The trip also seeks to educate participants on Hnahnu culture and represents a source of income for the community, leaders said. The Mexican government helped finance the creation of the Eco Alberto nature park.
Participants said they were lured by the realistic experience promised by the nearly six-hour nocturnal walk.
"It was like being in their flesh and bones," marveled Oswaldo Martinez, 31, of Cuernavaca.
"It was cool. It was very fun," gushed his friend Mauricio Palacios, 30. "I never imagined it would be like that."
Until almost 2 a.m., the group scaled walls, hid in tunnels, jumped on the back of pickup trucks and followed a path through a cornfield. The trip ended with a ride in blindfolds to a Hnahnu holy place where Poncho, whose name is Alfonso Martinez Flores, asked the group to be more honest and sincere in their lives.
Word of the tourist attraction has provoked much head-scratching among immigrant advocates in the United States and real-life immigrants who have made the trek across the border.
Some called the risk-free adrenaline rush insulting. Others said it could improve the often-conflicted attitudes of Mexicans toward their compatriots who migrate.
"Anything that raises awareness in Mexico of the plight of undocumented immigrants is welcome," said Jorge Bustamante, special Mexican representative to the U.N. for human rights of migrants. "But the indifference is very strong, and it's greater as you ascend in social class."
Maria Garcia, a Mexican immigrant who founded the Hispanic Community Support Center in Duluth, Ga., said the mock crossing could be perceived as exploiting the suffering of migrants. "Someone crossing the border knows they could die," she said. "Someone going on this tour knows they will have fun."
Immigrant rights advocate Josefina Castillo, director of the Austin American Friends Service Committee office in Texas, said the adventure should include dialogue about the economic reasons immigrants leave home. "If it's just part of a show, then it would be (insulting)," she said. "It should lead to more education."
Nearly 70 members of the Hnahnu community take part in the experience, playing the various roles.
"It's all the things we've been through," said 21-year-old Juventino Garcia, who made his first journey north at 15. "We're just trying to show the people what it's like."
Report this post as:
LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018
Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018!
Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A.
Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups
After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video
More Local News...
Paraphysique de martyrologie
[NEW HOT] World Soccer King Hack Coins and Gems
Asian Countries:Cambodia, Vietnam, N. Korea do not permit unlawful immigration
Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator
Democratic Socialists of America
Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's
Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento
Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup
FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution?
Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians
The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally!
Social Policy as Social Infrastructure
Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud
Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner..
June 2018 Honduras coup update
Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support
New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients
Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation
Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why
Change Links 2018 July posted
Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme )
Google, World's Biggest Censor, Was Founded By The CIA
For a World Free of Nuclear Risks
Corrupt CDC Ignores Meat Fish Recalls
The (Temporary) End of Globalization
Aternatives to Abortions such as Plan B the pill, condoms and IUD
U.S Congressional Legal Minds Know Better Than Allowing Texas To Murder Hank Skinner
ACLU in many US states defends in court KKK and American Nazis Sometimes for Money
More Breaking News...