Carlos, a migrant and three-time deportee, commented to me, “I’ve been there and back, too. I’m a migrant and I want a better future.” Carlos’ brother is one of the 16 Hondurans whose bodies were repatriated on September 1st after being found among the 72 immigrants executed by a drug cartel in Tamaulipas, Mexico, as they neared the border with the U.S.
I couldn’t help thinking of a recent magazine article about 800 expatriate soccer players in Europe and how, according to the author, their story might open doors for other foreign “workers” in this globalized world. It struck me that while many of those athletes were born in the slums of Latin America just like most of the 72 dead migrants, the difference was that their talent made it good business for them to cross borders.
At the same time any number of talented musicians from Peru or Bolivia, artists from Ecuador, craftsmen from Guatemala, farmers from Honduras, or laborers from El Salvador, either die while emigrating towards a better life in the U.S. or survive there with a feeling of well-being thanks to their material gains, but suffering the pain of having been uprooted. They are all migrants just like Carlos who go and return tirelessly, with the conviction that comes from having been propelled from their homes by failing economies. The enormous obstacles make me believe that they won’t have the same luck as those who entertain us with their passes and goals.
All these thoughts came to me while covering the story of Miguel Carcamo, another of the dozens who died with the brother of Carlos in Tamaulipas as they headed north in search of a better life. Miguel and his wife Marleny Suarez had four children, the eldest of whom is Isabel. Before emigrating north Miguel worked with his brother near home, carting sand in a wheelbarrow to sieve by hand and sell to brick factories.
To find them I first called Miguel’s sister Maria, who allowed me into her life in the unguarded manner so typical of victims of injustice whenever journalists appear. She told me to meet her on the corner “where they sell chickens,” and then led me up the side of a mountain to her home. That’s where I met her family and Marleny, without her four children. We spoke of their lives and they showed me photos of Miguel. In spite of their pain they treated me like a distinguished guest.