"My dead migrant has fingerprints, but nobody claims her. *I* claim her; she is mine."
September 7, 2011 9:18 AM   Subscribe

A year ago this August, 72 migrant workers -- 58 men and 14 women -- 'were on their way to the US border when they were murdered by a drug gang at a ranch in northern Mexico, in circumstances that remain unexplained. Since then, a group of Mexican journalists and writers have created' a "Day of the Dead-style Virtual Altar" Spanish-language website, 72migrantes.com, to commemorate each of the victims, some of whom have never been identified. The New York Review of Books has English translations of five of their profiles.

"At 72 Migrantes, you can listen to music for the dead (click ‘descargar canciones’), leave a rose icon (click ‘dejar una rosa’), and share food with living migrants by making a donation (click ‘donaciones’). Donations are sent directly to Father Alejandro Solalinde of Hermanos en el Camino, a church organization that provides food, shelter and support to migrants and those who have been kidnapped or threatened by drug and human traffickers in Mexico.

The centerpiece of 72 Migrantes is a collection of narratives and photographs, one for each of the victims. The authors (among them Elena Poniatowska, Jorge Volpi, and Juan Villoro) have written the stories of the dead by seeking information about their lives, often from their loved ones. But most families of the migrants have been too afraid to identify themselves publicly. Many of the authors, with little more than a name, have written narratives that fall somewhere between obituary and testimonial. And others have chosen to write the stories of the unidentified by imagining the lives of their subjects."
Google Translate does change the text on the site from Spanish to English.
posted by zarq (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you so much for this post. A friend of mine has spent the last 6 weeks in an Arizona bordertown volunteering with No Mas Muertes, and she has been blogging about the experience.

In a recent post, she talks about the women who vanish from the desert during their crossing, abducted into slavery. Apparently the volunteers often find their underwear hung in trees or left behind on trails as trophies of rape, and her account of encountering these firsthand really upset me:
"And then one of the volunteers got up and brought 3 backpacks to the table. They found them earlier in the day on a hike around where we work. Each backpack was brand new and green camouflage, barely used. And then he began pulling out what they had found inside. Women’s underwear, torn and dirty. Trophies."
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this post.
posted by Lisitasan at 9:57 AM on September 7, 2011

posted by tykky at 10:05 AM on September 7, 2011

posted by heatvision at 10:47 AM on September 7, 2011

this post is spectacular, thank you zarq.
posted by beefetish at 11:33 AM on September 7, 2011

You're very welcome, folks. It's a wonderful project. I'm still sifting through it all.

hermitosis, many, many thanks for linking to the insecure fences blog. That particular post was upsetting and hard to read, but I've been looking over her other posts. Your friend has an evocative, engrossing writing style, and her entries were fascinating.
posted by zarq at 12:38 PM on September 7, 2011

The US can change its immigration policies. The US can change its drug policies.

But what are lives when politics are at stake?
posted by threeants at 7:35 PM on September 7, 2011

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