Died May 14, 2019, Texas
Wilmer's story HERE.
The seventh soul in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vázquez, Age 2
Died May 14, 2019, Texas
Wilmer's mother brought him to the U.S. to get him medical care for a condition that left him unable to walk. Wilmer and his mother Hilda left home in March to make the journey to the U.S. He became ill in Mexico and crossed into the United States with a high fever and difficulty breathing. Diagnosed with pneumonia and other complications at a children's hospital, Wilmer died about a month later.
Wilmer's story HERE.
The sixth soul in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Roxsana Hernandez-Rodriguez, Age 33
Died May 30, 2018, New Mexico
Roxsana said she had fled Honduras in part because of the discrimination and violence she faced for being transgender. (She was gang-raped by four MS-13 members and contracted HIV. ) She said in an interview, "Trans people in my neighborhood are killed and chopped into pieces, then dumped inside potato bags."
Hernandez was one of roughly 25 transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals who joined the annual caravan of Central American migrants heading to the US border. She crossed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego and was later transferred to a CPB facility in NM for transgender detainees. She succumbed to symptoms of pneumonia, severe dehydration, and complications associated with HIV and later died from cardiac arrest.
Roxsana's story HERE.
The fourth & fifth souls in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Óscar Alberto Martínez-Ramírez, 25 yrs.
Angie Valeria, 23 mos.
both of El Salvador
Drowned together in the Rio Grande River, June 24, 2019
Working at a pizzeria in El Salvador, Óscar made approximately $350 a month supporting his wife Tania Vanessa Ávalos, and their young daughter, Valeria. The three lived with his mother, Rosa Ramírez, in a two-bedroom home outside of San Salvador. She gave them the larger room, but they wanted more than a life on $10 a day.
Frustrated at being unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, Oscar swam across the river with his daughter. He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Óscar returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current then swept them both away.
Oscar & Valeria's story HERE.
The third soul in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Mariee Juarez of Guatemala
Age: 19 mos.
Died May 10, 2018, New Jersey
(after being held at ICE detention in Dilley, TX)
After experiencing inhospitable violence in her home country, Mariee's mother, Yazmin Juárez, was faced with the difficult choice of staying in Guatemala and likely facing death or fleeing to the United States to apply for asylum. The decision to embark on such a journey was a remarkably dangerous one with no guarantee of obtaining legal status in the end, but as Yazmin recounted, the crushing instability of their home country made staying put impossible.
When the two arrived at the border in Texas, they were quickly funneled into the U.S. immigrant detention system to wait for their case to be processed. They were both examined by a doctor and found to be healthy. The two were then transferred to a facility in Dilley, Texas where they were crammed into a filthy, crowded cell with sick children. Mariee became sick within a week of their detention with a cough and runny nose and grew steadily worse; contracting a high fever and diarrhea and vomiting.
Yazmin stood in line for hours, begging the guards for help. When Mariee was finally seen, she was given antibiotics after a quick examination. Yazmin begged the clinicians to run additional tests and allow her daughter to stay in a more sanitary area until she recovered, but she was sent back into their overcrowded cell with the other sick children.
Shortly thereafter, the two were released from custody and allowed to stay with family in New Jersey until their asylum claim could be heard in court. Upon their arrival, Juárez rushed her daughter to the hospital where it became clear that her condition was far worse than diagnosed. Mariee died six weeks later, on the day celebrated as Mother’s Day in Guatemala.
Mariee and Yazmin's full story HERE.
The second soul in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Felipe AlonzoGomez, Age 8,
Died Dec. 24, 2018, New Mexico
Felipe was excited to come to America. His father, Augustin, thought taking Felipe to the U.S. would give him more “opportunity,” and was focused on escaping the poverty of their hometown. Felipe hoped to have his own bicycle.
The boy’s mother, Catarina Alonzo Perez, said she spoke with her son the day before they arrived at the U.S. border. “He wasn’t sick on the way; he wasn’t sick here,” she said through her stepdaughter in the Mayan language known as Chuj.
His body was returned to Guatemala.
More of Felipe's story HERE.
The first soul in my En Memoriam project honoring asylum seekers who did not survive the rigors of the American border.
Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal-Maquin, age 7
of Raxruha, Guatemala.
Died Dec. 8, 2018, in New Mexico.
She and her father traveled 3,000 miles from Guatemala seeking a better life. She jumped when her father told her she could come with him to the U.S. She thought she might get her first toy, or learn to write. She got her first pair of shoes right before the trip. They were apprehended the night of Dec. 6 at the extremely remote port of entry at Antelope Wells, New Mexico, by Border Patrol agents, just 2 days before she died. Jakelin died of sepsis.
Jakelin's story HERE.
To accentuate the enduring timelessness of La Loba, I gave the picture an apocalyptic feel. I wanted her to appear physically ravaged by time and unkept; sorrowful, yet soft. The bumblebee on her hand is one my mother drew before she died and I like to honor her where I can in my paintings.
The once majestic saguaro stands long-dead, with only shards of its skin remaining. It is pierced by multiple bullet holes - the fate common to some of today's living saguaros. The boulder beneath it with a timeless petroglyph on it shows the same human thoughtlessness. In the background is a rusted shell of a vintage automobile that La Loba uses as a repository for her various collected bones. She burns a few twigs of palo santo in an abalone shell and sings her wolf skeleton into being. Hummingbirds, messengers of the spirit world, greet the awakening spirit of the wolf. One can ponder if La Loba is returning earth animal spirits to an ancient celestial home; as the blue star glowing in the distance could imply.
As told by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD, Women Who Run With the Wolves:
"There is an old woman who lives in a hidden place that everyone knows but few have seen. As in the fairy tales of Eastern Europe, she seems to wait for lost or wandering people and seekers to come to her place.
She is circumspect, often hairy, always fat, and especially wishes to evade most company. She is both a crower and a cackler, generally having more animal sounds than than human ones.
They say she lives among the rotten granite slopes in Tarahumara Indian territory. They say she is buried outside Phoenix near a well. She is said to have been traveling south to Monte Alban in a burnt out car with the back window shot out. She is said to stand by the highway near El Paso, or ride shotgun with truckers to Morelia, Mexico, or that she has been sighted walking to to market above Oaxaca with strangely formed boughs of firewood on her back. She is called by many names: La Huesera, Bone Woman, La Trapera, The Gatherer, and La Loba, Wolf Woman.
The sole work of La Loba is the collecting of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her specialty is said to be wolves.
She creeps and crawls and sifts through the montañas, mountains, and arroyos, dry riverbeds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.
And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being; its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong.
And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon.
Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddenly transformed into a laughing woman who runs free towards the horizon.
So it is said that if you wander the desert, and it is near sundown, and you are perhaps a little bit lost, and certainly tired, that you are lucky, for La Loba may take a liking to you and show you something— something of the soul."
More from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés : http://www.clarissapinkolaestes.com/works.htm
Lotería de Tucson 2018 was an exhibition featuring mixed media creations about Greater Tucson by 54 Arizona artists. The original works of art were photographed and published to comprise a deck of Lotería cards. Sales proceeds of the card decks benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.
The box design is my interpretation of some of the things that make me proud to be a Tucsonense.
A journal of inspirations, interpretations and lasting impressions.