August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Border Ambassador 1946 - 2012.

Sad to hear of the passing of Jay, who joined us at the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit in Arizona in 2007 and fought the abuse of women and children in private prisons, and border injustice, on the Texas border. -- Censored News

Jay Johnson-Castro passes away
4 December 2012
By Steve Taylor

Jay J. Johnson-Castro, Border Ambassador. 1946 - 2012.

BROWNSVILLE, December 3 - Jay Johnson-Castro, the human rights
activist who spearheaded opposition to the border wall in South Texas,
has died of hemorrhagic pancreatitis.

His wife Jillian posted news of his passing on Facebook over the
weekend. The two moved to Panajachel, Guatemala, in early 2011.
Johnson-Castro was 66.
Although he also fought to stop Rio Grande water being pumped to San
Antonio and to close immigrant detention camps in Texas,
Johnson-Castro will be best remembered in South Texas for campaigning against the border wall.

He began raising awareness of the border wall issue by walking from
Laredo to Brownsville in February and March, 2006. The walk generated
national and international awareness of the strong opposition to the
border wall on both sides of the Rio Grande. At the time,
Johnson-Castro owned a bed and breakfast in Del Rio and he championed
cultural ties with neighboring Ciudad Acuña.

Johnson-Castro’s opposition to the border wall inspired the formation
of groups like No Border Wall. He, himself, started the Border
Ambassadors group. He counted among his friends in the fight against
the border wall Eagle Pass Mayor and Texas Border Coalition Chair Chad
Foster, Brownsville Mayor Pat Ahumada, and UT-Brownsville President
Juliet Garcia.

In late 2006, Johnson-Castro’s community activism was geared towards
immigration detention camps and, working with Bob Libal of the
Austin-based Grassroots Leadership, he championed the plight of
immigrant children in the Don T. Hutton detention facility in Central
Texas. The attention he and others brought to the issue eventually led
to the Hutto center being closed.

Johnson-Castro's work on environmental issues and protecting the Rio
Grande, as director of the Rio Grande International Study Group in
Laredo, received less media attention. However, his passion for the
causes he believed in never dimmed.
A friend posted this tribute to Johnson-Castro on Facebook over the weekend:

"For all of Jay's friends, Jay passed away on Friday evening from what
appears to be pancreatic hematoma. This was totally unexpected and
shock to all who knew him. A small ceremony was held for him yesterday
in Panajachel on the side of Lake Atitlan. A place Jay and his wife
Jillian have both fallen in love with. Jay was an inspiration to many
and his unrelenting quest for truth and justice will be missed by
many. Adios Amigo."
The Guardian will add other tribute comments as they come in.

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