Ameli en lucha por su amor

Ameli Ramírez cruzó la frontera de Estados Unidos; fue detenida y y luego liberada, pero su esposo sigue en la cárcel. Foto: Ricardo Ibarra

Ameli Ramírez cruzó la frontera de Estados Unidos; fue detenida y y luego liberada, pero su esposo sigue en la cárcel. Foto: Ricardo Ibarra

SAN FRANCISCO.— Juntos tomaron la decisión: salir de Guatemala antes de que las amenazas de muerte fueran efectivas.

Ricardo recibía misteriosas llamadas telefónicas: “Te vamos a matar”, eran los insistentes mensajes. Ameli no quería tener un marido desaparecido o muerto. Tampoco quería que su hija Meli creciera sin padre. En febrero de 2014 salieron de aquel país centroamericano con el plan de recorrer las tierras mexicanas hasta alcanzar ‘the land of the free’, en el lado de Estados Unidos. Lo cual lograron. Caminaron durante cuatro días y cinco noches por el paisaje desértico de Texas. La patrulla fronteriza los detuvo en seco antes de alcanzar Houston, los esposaron y echaron en las celdas frías de alguna cárcel texana el pasado 5 de febrero.

Ese día fue el último que Ameli vió a Ricardo. Han pasado cerca de cinco meses desde entonces. Esta mujer de estatura baja, rasgos característicos de la estirpe maya y mirada endurecida, cuenta su historia en la cocina de un departamento sin muebles o utensilios visibles, en San Francisco, como si estuviera lista para zarpar en cualquier momento a cualquier lugar.

El 3 de enero Ameli Ramírez y Ricardo Martínez sufrieron un atentado, que ella adjudica al Estado de Guatemala, pues interpusieron una demanda por daños y prejuicios por el encarcelamiento injustificado de tres meses de su marido. Y el 13 de enero ya habían empacado y estaban en camino al norte. “Decidimos arriesgar nuestra vida para venir buscando protección”, contó Ameli.

Los ‘coyotes’ que los ayudaron a cruzar la frontera violaron a una niña, hecho del cual fueron testigos, refirió Ameli. “Yo daba gracias a Dios que inmigración nos agarró. Pensamos que nos iban a tratar mejor, pero fue igual. Nos metieron en las ‘hieleras’, que le llaman, y pues es bastante frío. No se distingue el día de la noche. Todo el día se está encerrado. No sabe uno ni qué fecha es ni qué hora es y la comida que le dan a uno es bastante desagradable y nada de beber”.

La separación de la pareja ocurrió porque a Ricardo, agentes de ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) lo tomaron como testigo de la violación a la pequeña por parte de los contrabandistas. “Yo creo que porque habla inglés, lo agarraron de testigo. A él se lo llevaron para un lado y a mí para otro y ya no supe nada de él”, dijo Ameli.

Después de la separación, Ameli estuvo en seis ‘hieleras’, en una de ellas hasta por 10 días. Luego la pasaron a un asilo para mujeres, donde “ya tenía cobijas y comida un poquito agradable tres veces al día, y ya nos podíamos bañar”.

Hasta los 20 días de estar detenida tuvo su primera entrevista formal con agentes de inmigración, y tras otros 20 días “decidieron dejarme aquí. Gracias a que creyeron mi caso estoy aquí”.

La lucha para reencontrarse con Ricardo le ha costado a Ameli ya miles de dólares, constantes pláticas con abogados y acciones públicas en frente del edificio de ICE en San Francisco. “Él me falta como persona, como esposo y como padre de mi hija. Él es el sostén de mi hogar, es el que trabaja y lo necesitamos, sentimentalmente y económicamente. Nunca nos habíamos separado. En 10 años que llevamos de vivir juntos nunca nos habíamos separado tanto tiempo”.

Meli, la hija de ambos, de ocho años, también ha expresado la ausencia de su papá, pero con dibujos, donde a él lo delinea con los labios encorvados, tristes, y con lágrimas en los ojos.

Así como la familia de Ameli, hay en Estados Unidos 11 millones de indocumentados que pueden ser detenidos y luego deportados, mediante programas como Comunidades Seguras —que en San Francisco ha sido descontinuado—, y que llegan a separar a las familias.

En tanto, las posibilidades de una reforma migratoria en Estados Unidos parecen cada vez más lejana. Apenas la semana pasada, líderes del Congreso advirtieron que quedan 16 días legislativos para el receso de mitad de año.

Escucha la historia de Ameli en su propia voz:

From the American dream to Mexican reality

Outstanding International Report winner of the New America Media Awards 2011/2012 [Series, first of three]

TIJUANA.– He doubts for a moment. Suddenly, Angel holds a conviction: his life has no future in Mexico.

It’s not so much because of the son that’s waiting for him crossing the border, over in Pittsburg, California. Or his wife, who also awaits his arrival. The bus ride through an arid road from Tijuana to Mexicali inspires him reflections beyond the desert he sees through the window, when he says haltingly, “Well, there is no future here, man, that’s the truth. It is very difficult… life here in Mexico. It’s very ugly. I do not like it here. So I’m going over there”.

That “over there” is the north for thousands of Mexicans, Central Americans, Asians, Hindues, dissatisfied european tourists. It is the nation of the United States. The land of dreams. The country with international debt over 14 trillion. But still, the great golden myth in this archaic American continent.

Angel has seen it all. Maddened with alcohol and drugs in Tijuana. United States made him better, he says. “There are many rules that one must respect (in US) and that makes you a better person. But not here, man (in Mexico). Here you could live however you want. Over there you have to work to eat, you have to pay rent, you have to do many things and that makes you better person, and therefore be more useful, you know what I mean?

“Here, the easiest thing to do is go have drugs and drink and all that, and one gets lost, that’s what happens. There are even white guys lost there [in Tijuana]. For me, that’s not life, so I don´t like that. I used to be like that, but I got better in the States. Here in Mexico you can’t do a thing with your life. Over there in the States, I have my job, my car, my money.”

A “coyote” paid to Angel that bus transport where he is travelling toward Mexicali. The ‘coyote’ will get him false papers, will get him to cross the border line. Angel will say hello to the immigration police. Maybe sing the American national anthem to prove his false citizenship and his loyalty to the red, white and blue. This is the third time Angel does this, after 10 years of living among strangers with a hidden identity, after paying taxes to the IRS, working as a butcher in a recognized signature stores in California. Having children.

When Angel arrives back home, in Pitsburg, he will pay $4.000 to the “coyote” who provided him with the false paperwork.”It’s people you can trust,” he says, “I already know him.”

On his way back to the States, Angel does not come alone. He is accompanied by his brother and cousin, both with similar stories, perhaps less fortunate and less emotional bonds.

Jose Luis, Angel’s brother, knows what they’re about to deal with. This is his eleventh attempt to escape from Mexico. On three occasions managed to evade the desert and their United States guardians. He worked for three years in Pittsburgh with his brother, doing everything. Now, he’s coming for more. “It’s nice over there,” he admits.

His story differs from that of his brother, by the various occasions that he was hit by “la migra”. This time won’t be easy, he knows that, but is willing to take the risk. He has his convictions: “It’s a change for me, something good. In Ensenada (Baja California) there is no work and money is never enough. Over there you put your life in everything to make what is yours. Over here is tough, almost impossible to do anything”.

When the bus arrives in Mexicali, the two brothers and cousin are drained in the corridors of the small trucking station. Out of sight. Their fate is cast on the other side.

Here and there

Every day there is someone trying to conquer the American desert mountains to dig into a McDonald’s in California or Texas, Arizona or New Mexico. And every day there are people being deported.

In the Mexicali-Calexico border, the Albergue del Desierto organization has a module for migrants who are returned through this door. They receive them, rehydrate them, provide instant soups, coffee, and let’s go, to keep trying to cross the border.

“This is like a routine for those who want get over there,” said Jesus Avila, a man almost 40 years, from Minatitlan, Veracruz, in the south east of Mexico.

The Department of Homeland Security has just deported Jesus and now he has just finished the instantly made noodle soup and coffee provided by the mexican hostel Albergue del Desierto in the borderline area.

That last night of early June, he and more than 20 Mexicans entered the United States through a mountain desert area known as La Rumorosa in Baja California. They walked a couple of nights, being careful of not being spotted by the Border Patrol, until “they caught us, nothing more,” says Avila.

From time to time, this man borned in a coastal town in southeastern Mexico, is launching an explanation of why “sometimes you have to take risks”. A profound statement said in such a light way that seems like a story he has been repeating countless times: “Money is good over there. It’s fucked up here in Mexico. That’s why we go over there. What I have, I’ve made it in the United States. Here in Mexico I can’t do anything. What I have, thank God, I’ve done it over there. That’s why we take the risk.”

He continues: “Here in Mexico, the Mexican authorities… the political race are the ones eating the money.” And repeats again, reaffirming his position: “That’s why we go over there.”

More than half of Mexicans live in poverty, according to the specialist Julio Boltvinik, from el Colegio de México. Jesus Avila recognize himself in that vast majority of 80 million Mexicans, when he says: “I’m not saying there is no well-paying jobs [in Mexico], there are well-paying jobs, what happens is that they are the minority and those who are the majority, nothing. You earn 150 pesos 200 pesos a day, that does not helps you at all. It’s worthless. Prices have gone up, things have gone rather expensive. What do you do? Well, let’s better go over there, to United States to make some money.”

Border in numbers

This spirit is not isolated. Neither belongs only to those 25 men recently deported by the Border Patrol, with dusty faces that look dry and consumed in the borderline hostel.

Only in 2010, Homeland Security deported 387.000 immigrants. Were from Mexico (73%), Guatemala (8%), Honduras (6%) and El Salvador (5%).

Also detained 517.000 foreigners, of whom 83% were native Mexicans.

In total, in 2010, Homeland Security deported to their original countries 476.000 people.

With these numbers, the administration of President Barack Obama has become the federal organization that has deported more immigrants in the history of the United States.