Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Guatemalan mother found dead on Tohono O'odham tribal land

Migrant Walk for Life 2007/Brenda Norrell

CENSORED: Indigenous continue to die from heat and dehydration on Tohono O'odham tribal land in Arizona. Many of those walking north to survive are Indigenous Peoples, but the tribe has created a law which makes it a crime to transport migrants. Further, the tribe has failed to support the humanitarian efforts of Tohono Oodham Mike Wilson. Wilson, in conjunction with Humane Borders, puts out water in several areas on tribal land for migrants.

Guatemalan mother is second mother found dead on Tohono O'odham land with son nearby

By Brenda Norrell

SELLS, Ariz. -- A Guatemalan mother, walking on Tohono O'odham tribal land, with her 10-year-old son was found dead Thursday. It was the second consecutive day that a mother was found dead with her son nearby.
The ten-year-old Guatemalan boy was found walking about a half mile mile north of the border south of Tecolote Ranch on tribal land. The boy told Border agents that his mother had died, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
On Wednesday on Tohono O'odham tribal land, one mile west of Big Field near Federal Route 24, the body of Maria Resendiz Perez, 33, of the central Mexican state of Queretaro, was found with four survivors, including her 10-year-old son.
"The boy is in custody of the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, which is arranging for the boy to return to Mexico this weekend to be with his grandfather, said spokesman Alejandro Ramos Cardoso. They believe the mother died of dehydration," the Star reported.
The heat has taken many lives this summer. Thursday was the 37th straight day of 100-degree temperatures in the Tucson area.

Coalicion de Derechos Humanos: More migrants die because of increased enforcement

Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a Tucson-based human rights group, announced that the total number of recovered bodies on the Arizona border reached 147 by the end of June, 2007, up from 133 at the same time last year. Thirty-three bodies were recovered in the month of June alone, twelve of them not as yet identified and nearly a third of them female.

These numbers do not reflect any of the 24 bodies recovered in first twelve days of the month of July, with reports coming out almost daily about remains found in the desert by residents, humanitarian groups and law enforcement officials alike.

Adding to this increasing tragedy are the families who are desperately searching for news of loved ones who attempted to cross the border and have yet to be heard from. Men, women and children are regularly reported missing to consulate officials and human rights groups, who attempt to search for them in detention centers, hospitals, migrant centers, and medical examiner offices.“Rarely talked about are the desaparecidos, the people who have gone missing with no clue as to their whereabouts,” says Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos.

“The desert is an ultimately unforgiving force, and can completely devour remains within a matter of weeks or even days, given the brutal conditions. This leaves mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children lost to their families forever, with no hope of ever finding out what became of them.”Every month has yielded more skeletal remains on the Arizona border, indicating that death could have taken place weeks, months, or even years prior to discovery.

This—coupled with the fact that migrants do not always carry identification on their person, and their clothing can be torn away by animals or by themselves as they hallucinate and suffocate in the desert heat—makes identifying them even more difficult. Despite the recovery of an estimated 5,000 bodies on the U.S.-México border during the last 12 years, a direct result of the funnel-effect of border and militarization policies, the U.S. government has failed to acknowledge the deadly result of these strategies, and has, to the contrary, continued to increase efforts to militarize the border.

“To die because you sought a better future for yourself and your family is a human rights violation,” continued Garcia. “and to die without your family ever knowing what became of you, as they suffer the anguish of not being able to bury your body and mourn your death is a tragedy that we must demand be made right. Human life is the most precious thing on earth, and we all must work to change any government policy that threatens it.”

The complete list of recovered bodies is available on the Coalición de Derechos Humanos website:
This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.

Photo 2: "No More Deaths" campaign at protest outside Gov. Janet Napolitano's office in Tucson in July/Photo Brenda Norrell
Photo 3: Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos speaks out at the protest outside Gov. Napolitano's office in July in Tucson, criticizing failed immigration policies that force migrants into isolated desert regions and death./Photo Brenda Norrell

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