the Dead in San Francisco
Skulls and coffins
adorned the heart of the Mission district the
evening of Nov. 2. Among them were ghosts and
goblins, skeletal figures with darkened eyes
and whitened cheeks, and flamboyant, gory
beasts. Surrounding the figures was an intense
scent of sage and incense that permeated the
Dias De Los Muertos - Celebrating
These revelers didn't forget Halloween was
on Oct. 31. They were in a parade procession
to celebrate Dia
de los Muertos, otherwise known as the Day
of the Dead.
The procession started at the corner of
24th and Bryant streets, and proceeded along
to 25th, Mission, back to 24th, through Balmy
Alley, and finally ended in Garfield Park with
a public ritual.
It was the final day of the three-day Dia
de Los Muertos celebration, a traditional
Mexican festival that honors death and treats
it as a continuation of life, rather than the
end of it.
This is a ritual that indigenous peoples of
Mexico, then known as Aztecs, practiced for at
least 3,000 years. Unlike the Spaniards that
conquered them, they believed one should
embrace death instead of fearing it.
The San Francisco Day of the Dead Ritual
Procession is a project of the Colectivo del
Rescate Cultural, that was produced in
collaboration with CELL Space and Reclaiming
Collective, Spiritual and Cultural Workers,
Community Educational & Artistic
Organizations, the Mission Cultural Center,
the Mexican Museum, Galeria De La Raza, the
California Arts Council Folk Arts Program, and
Most people take the opportunity during
this celebration to pay homage to dead friends
In rural Mexico, people visit the cemetery
where their loved ones are buried, and
decorate the gravesites. In the United States
and in Mexico's larger cities, families build
altars in their homes, dedicating them to the
During the procession, the beating of drums
and the ringing of bells echoed through the
otherwise quiet evening. Several groups had
their own drum procession, while individuals
used old glasses as makeshift percussion
instruments to join in the celebration.
"The sounds of the drums indicate
happiness," said Javier Pinzon, one of a
group of people who were carrying tall sticks
adorned with colorful paper streamers.
"The more sound there is, the happier the
The tall sticks were part of this year's
procession ritual theme, which honored the
re-birth of Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec god who
brought culture and enlightenment to the
Aztecs. Several tall sticks of pink and purple
streamers formed the tail of the god, whereas
the head of the god was a huge cross adorned
with different colored streamers. The center
of the cross was a bright orange-yellow color.
People donned wooden skull masks called
"calacas" and danced in honor of
their deceased relatives. Assistants passed
out yellow marigolds to the crowd. Dancers
hopped and skipped along the darkened road,
lit only by streetlights and candles carried
"The candles are to light the way home
for the spirits," said Raquel Garcia.
Garcia works part time as an artist who
occasionally builds altars in museums, such as
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
"The incense is to attract the spirits
by smell, and the yellow marigold [also called
cempazuchitl] is the symbol of death,"
Garcia said. "The skeleton costumes and
such are mostly for fun."
Garcia's grandmother died five years ago,
so Garcia said she tries to attend this
celebration every year in remembrance of her.
"This is a peaceful and joyful
celebration," she said. "I believe
that the spirits are still alive, and my
grandmother is still around enjoying
Participant Joanna Moody was dressed up as
a corpse; her face painted as a grey and black
skull. She pushed her 2-year-old son in a blue
stroller along in the parade. Moody has
attended the Dia de los Muertos parade for
many years, but this was her son's first.
"It's a family event, and kids can get
involved," Moody said. "We get
reunited with our beloved dead relatives,
especially those that died the last
A truck drove up Bryant Street, and
standing on it was Gerardo Salina as a
towering Aztec priest dressed in a golden
rooster outfit, with long flamboyant plumage
and bells on his shoes. He stood on the truck,
beating a huge drum. Behind him were several
female dancers, dressed up in similar golden
outfits. He led the colorful god formation
through the parade.
A group of four people carried a
coffin-shaped metal frame through the crowd.
When looked at closely, shapes of flattened
guns decorated the frame. The man who built
it, John Ricker, the founder and executive
director of Peaceful Streets, used about 30
guns to create his art.
"We want to get guns and turn them
into art," Ricker said. "This is
built out of donated guns. For every dollar a
gun is worth, a book will be donated to a
reading program. So, this gun showed on the
side here was worth $200, therefore 200 books
will be donated."
The organization has been around for three
years. The goal is to get a gun for every
person killed. For example, 68 people have
been killed so far this year, so they hope to
get 68 guns donated, according to Ricker.
The procession ended at Garfield Park.
There were four different altars, symbolizing
earth, fire, air and water, that various local
artists helped build. Each altar was
elaborately designed with candles, pictures
and sculptures scattered around it. One had
little pet statues and crosses, as well as
paper drawings of children. People were
invited to take a piece of paper and write a
little note to a departed loved one, and then
leave them on the ground in front of the
altar. By the end of the night, the ground was
littered with pieces of torn paper that
carried personal messages to the deceased.
(female: curandera )
(the "evil eye")
- a kind of personalistic illness in Latin America
and parts of the Mediterranean Basin resulting from soul loss.
The cause is traditionally thought to be a strong person
staring at a weak individual. The eyes of the strong
person drain the power and/or soul from the weak one.
Proof that this has occurred to someone is that he or she
cries inconsolably without a cause, has fitful sleep,
diarrhea, vomiting, and/or a fever. It is thought that
powerful people can cause this draining of the soul
intentionally or unintentionally. In traditional Mexican
and Central American culture, women, babies, and young
children are thought of as being weak, while men as well
as rich and politically powerful people of either gender are
strong. People who believe in the existence of mal de
ojo are likely to seek out a curandero to cure it.
a Latin American folk
curer. Cuanderos believe that they have received a
divine calling to their profession, and they may have direct
contact with the spirit world. They usually apprentice for
years under an older curandero. In Mexico and
Central America, there are curandero generalists and
are knowledgeable about herbs. Parteras
are midwifes. Sabadoros
are specialists in massaging patients. Curanderos
may also specialize in particular kinds of illness--e.g., curandero
de aire ,
Illegal Immigrant Death Rate Rises Sharply in Barren Areas
By EVELYN NIEVES
CENTRO, Calif. The dying season began early here this year, with
four bloated bodies found floating in the All-American Canal on
March 14. The victims, young men ages 19 and 20, had made their way
from Chiapas, in southernmost Mexico, before drowning in the canal's
churning currents just 35 yards from United States land.
For the Imperial County Sheriff's Department, it was an
ominous sign. The dead usually start showing up in multiples in high
summer, when the desert becomes an inferno and the canal, roiling
beneath a calm veneer, lures migrants looking for a quick way across
and relief from the killing sun. If bodies were washing up in groups
in March, what would the summer be like?
The answer, so far, is grim. Even though deaths along the
Mexican border have declined over all as the slumping American
economy has attracted fewer migrants, the toll is reaching record
rates in the most remote and dangerous outposts. To avoid the
stepped-up border patrols in populated areas, the most desperate
migrants cross in the more unguarded and desolate deserts of Arizona
and eastern California. June was the deadliest month ever for the
southwest border, with 67 migrants dying, mostly in the unrelenting
heat of the United States Border Patrol's Tucson sector, a barely
habitable land that covers most of southern Arizona.
Here in the mountainous El Centro sector, which includes the
vast Imperial Desert, 52 migrants have died since Oct. 1. The
sheriff's department believes the deaths could outpace last year's
record of 95.
"It seems quiet, but we're finding more multiples bodies
in threes, fours and fives," said Gary Hayes, a deputy coroner
in the department. "They're really trying to avoid detection,
so they're going to more and more remote areas."
The rising toll in these barren regions is the more remarkable
because illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen 29 percent,
largely because of the faltering United States economy and tighter
security, and border deaths in general are down 20 percent.
Experts warn that the deadliest months are to come. August,
traditionally, is the cruelest. They also note that the statistics
do not include people who die in Mexico. (The Mexican government
counted 22 migrants who died inside its border in June. It counts
only Mexicans and not migrants who pass through from Central America
The deaths are full of suffering. People have suffocated in
airless trucks, died in vehicle crashes, been struck by lightning or
drowned. Most often, though, they are felled by heatstroke or
dehydration. Some carry no identification and, in a tragic irony,
end up where they wanted to be, in the United States but in
anonymous pauper's graves. Other migrants, not counted by the Border
Patrol, never make it across.
Migrant advocacy organizations blame the Border Patrol for the
mounting deaths, saying that its decision to focus its policing on
border cities has driven migrant traffic to the most severe terrain,
with the most extreme climates, winter and summer. The policy, which
began as Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, added officers, enhanced
surveillance equipment and put up physical barriers like concrete
walls, as well as introducing other measures, at the San Diego
border. The strategy was then expanded to Arizona and Texas.
Since the operation began, about 2,000 migrants have died
trying to cross into this country, according to the Mexican
government, with an average of more than one a day in the last two
years. The shift has also made expensive smugglers called coyotes
indispensable. Possibly hundreds of migrants have died because they
have been abandoned by these smugglers, or because they have been
led by people who themselves could not manage a brutal landscape,
their advocates say.
"Once the deaths started happening by the dozens in the
mountains east of San Diego," the federal government
"never rethought its strategy," said Claudia Smith, border
project director for the California Rural Legal Assistance
Foundation, in San Diego. "The Border Patrol, as planned, went
on to push them into the deserts," she said, "where the
risk increased exponentially."
The Border Patrol denies that its policies are responsible for
the increase in deaths and has no plans to change its strategy. It
counters that it is doing everything it can to deter migrants from
passing through the desert, including adding medically trained
search and trauma teams to rescue migrants, helicopter patrols in
treacherous areas and several rescue beacons in the desert that send
an electronic distress signal with the push of a button. It has also
mounted a public service campaign in Mexico and Central America,
using celebrities to do television and radio advertisements to warn
would-be migrants of the dangers of trying an illegal border
"Our primary mission is to protect our nation's
borders," said Mario Villarreal, a spokesman for the Border
Patrol in Washington, D.C., adding that unscrupulous smugglers,
charging between $1,000 and $2,000 a person or more, are to blame
for persuading would-be border crossers to make the dangerous trek.
Crossing the border illegally has always come with risks.
Before Operation Gatekeeper, most traffic entered via cities like
San Diego and El Paso, where migrants became targets for muggers and
A study released in July by the Public Policy Institute of
California, a research organization in San Francisco, found that the
Gatekeeper strategy, which costs more than $2 billion a year, has
done little to significantly diminish illegal immigration. It
actually increased after the border buildup. Economic opportunities
in the United States and Mexico, the study found, have a stronger
effect on migration than does the number of agents at the border.
Migrants risking their lives in the extremes of the desert
tend to come from the poorest states in Mexico, like Chiapas and
Oaxaca, where the economy is in collapse and whole villages have
been vacated by working-age men, and, increasingly, women. At Casa
Madre de Asunto in Tijuana, a safe house for migrant women that is
run by a Catholic nun, a dozen or more women at a time have either
migrated to the city from the south or have stopped by on their way
to cross the border.
Recently, a 31-year-old woman from Oaxaca said she and her
brother, a cousin and a friend, who were resting at a safe house for
men next door, had driven for two days and two nights to make it to
Tijuana and planned to make a two-day trek through mountains with a
"coyote" who was taking them into Los Angeles, charging
them $1,500 each.
"That's $1,000 less than he charges others," she
said, "because he knows us." She had tried to make the
trek months before, she said, but lost her nerve after feeling faint
and dehydrated and turned back after a day.
She said she hoped to become a maid or work in a store and
make some money to send to her mother. "I'm coming for a better
life for all of us," she said.
Days later, a woman at the safe house said she assumed the
group had made it across; they had not heard from the Oaxaca woman.
When smugglers are caught, said Mr. Villarreal of the Border
Patrol, efforts are made to prosecute them. In a recent incident in
Dallas, where two men were found dead in a stifling 54-foot-long
truck that had transported 40 illegal immigrants from El Paso, a
nine-hour trip, two truckers have been charged with murder.
"This is good work' but we're not done," Mr.
Villarreal said. "The main message we still want to get out is
that it is dangerous to try to cross along the southwest
Here in the El Centro sector, five suspected illegal
immigrants died of heat exposure in mid-July in an area of the
Imperial Desert that resembles a moonscape. "It's almost
totally devoid of plant life," Mr. Hayes, the deputy coroner,
Spotted by a military aircraft, the bodies could not retrieved
for a day because of the terrain. Mr. Hayes said satellite equipment
was needed to mark the positions of the bodies.
Mexico: Returns, Politics, Death Row
In February 2004, Mexico and the US agreed that Mexicans
apprehended in the US just inside the border could volunteer to be
returned to their communities of origin rather than be simply bussed
back to the border. The intent is to discourage migrants from making
repeated attempts to enter the US. Asa Hutchinson, US undersecretary
of border and transportation security, said "If we can move
migrants back into the interior, closer to their homes, we can
achieve our goal to break the cycle of smuggling."
The US is trying to persuade Mexico to see border control as a
humanitarian issue, arguing that if Mexico helped to discourage
illegal entries, the lives of migrants who now perish in the desert
could be saved. Some say that the test will come in summer 2004. If
Mexico helps to reduce illegal entries, the stage may be set for the
Bush administration to argue that Mexico-US cooperation can make
broader immigration reform work.
In September 2003, the US spent $1.3 million to fly 5,600 Mexicans
apprehended in Arizona to Texas border cities and walked them across
the border. The Mexican government protested, saying that it wanted
"a bilateral agreement on how to discourage illegal
migration" rather than unilateral US policy initiatives.
Mexico in March 2004 arrested 44 persons for smuggling, including 32
former officials of the National Immigration Institute, Mexico's
border enforcement agency. Those arrested were charged with
smuggling Brazilians, Cubans, Central Americans and Asians through
Mexico into the United States.
Jaripo, Michoacan, six hours northwest of Mexico City, is a city
of nurseries and nursing homes that survives from remittances and
the return of migrants from Lathrop, near Stockton, every
December-January. A reporter concluded: "Emigration to the
United States encourages more people to emigrate, while stunting the
region's ability to develop its own economy" because wage
expectations are formed by what relatives earn in the US. Jaripo
children tend to drop out of school at 15 and head for the US.
Politics. Homemade videos of Mexico City officials stuffing bribes
in brief-cases prompted Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador, a leading presidential contender for 2006, to assert that
"The fundamental problem of our country -- corruption -- hasn't
been solved. . . . As long as there is corruption, we can't get
ahead." Millions of Mexicans refuse to pay income and property
taxes because of a widespread belief that the money will end up in
an official's pocket.
In the aftermath of the bribery videos, Mexico's political parties
agreed to reform the financing of parties and elections: Mexico
spends $1.2 billion on elections, the most in Latin America, and
more than it spends on public safety. Under the proposed reforms,
the amount of money given to parties and spent on elections would
fall, and Mexicans abroad would gain the right to vote.
President Fox in March 2004 proposed major reforms of the criminal
justice system, including the presumption of innocence, public
trials with oral evidence, and introducing plea bargaining. The five
federal police forces would be combined into one national entity,
and police would be given new investigative powers. Under current
procedures, people are sometimes arrested on dubious suspicions for
minor crimes and held for months without charges; an estimated 80
percent of crimes are not reported because Mexicans have so little
faith in the police.
Vienna Convention. Mexico challenged the death sentences of 51
Mexican citizens in eight US states for crimes committed in the US.
On the ground that the rights of the Mexicans were not protected
under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. That treaty
requires arresting officers to allow foreigners to contact their
diplomatic representatives. The US became a party to the Convention
in 1969; there are 164 signatories.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague agreed with Mexico
that, because state and local police and prosecutors did not provide
consular access to the Mexicans, those on death row should have the
opportunity to reopen and reargue their cases. Mexican lawyers told
the court that in the cases when consular protection was provided,
life sentences were more likely than death sentences.
In January 2004, there were 122 foreign citizens from 31 countries
on death row in the United States. The US government says that it
has distributed pocket cards to 700,000 law enforcement officials in
18,000 state and local jurisdictions informing them of suspects'
rights to consular access.
Guatemala Border. In 2003, Mexico deported 147,000 illegal
immigrants, about 20 percent more than in 2002, with 90 percent from
Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Many gather in Tecum Uman, and
cross the Suchiate river into Mexico from Guatemala.
Many migrants try to board so-called trains of death that travel
from the Mexico border city of Tapachula 1,000 miles to
Texas-Mexican border. Corrupt police and criminals prey on the
migrants; the Mexican Grupo Beta agents try to protect the migrants
and warn them of the dangers of riding the trains north.
Hugh Dellios, "Seeking the train of death," Chicago
Tribune, March 12, 2004. Sam Quinones, "Emigration brings
dollars home but leaves Mexican town behind," San Francisco
Chronicle, February 9, 2004. "Mexico's immigration
problem" The Economist, January 29, 2004.
NAFTA Equals Death, Say Peasant Farmers
MEXICO CITY, Dec 3 (IPS) - More than 2,000 peasant farmers from
throughout Mexico staged a protest Tuesday in the capital to demand
a freeze on the agricultural provisions of the North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which they blame for most of their economic
and social woes.
But their demands do not appear to have much chance of winning
the desired response from the government.
''I have nothing. I am here out of desperation because I am
poorer than I have ever been,'' said Francisco Martmnez, an elderly
farmer who took part in Tuesday's march in Mexico City, carrying a
sign that read ''NAFTA Equals Death''.
Under the slogan ''the countryside can endure no more'',
farmers from 24 of Mexico's 32 states marched in Mexico City to the
Congress building to present their demands and later staged protests
outside the U.S. and French embassies.
UNORCA, the national union of some 30 regional peasant groups,
organized the demonstrations with the aim of preventing the
agricultural trade liberalization measures -- agreed under NAFTA,
which comprises Canada, Mexico and the United States -- from taking
effect in January.
The new phase of liberalization entails the complete
elimination of tariffs on 21 farm products, including potatoes,
wheat, apples, onions, coffee, chicken and veal.
The NAFTA mechanism, which UNORCA describes as ''toxic to the
Mexican countryside,'' establishes three steps towards liberalizing
the farm and livestock sector. The first occurred in 1994 when the
three-nation treaty entered into force, the second is slated for
January, and the third in 2008.
In 1993, when NAFTA was still being negotiated, the government
of Carlos Salinas, then president of Mexico (1988-1994), agreed to
the process of a gradual elimination of agricultural tariffs with
the support of the country's leading farm organizations.
Now, nearly a decade later, they are all complaining.
Recognizing the difficulties that Mexican farmers face with
the deepening of trade liberalization, President Vicente Fox
announced in November that the government would provide support for
rural producers to the tune of 10 billion dollars in 2003, or 7.7
percent more aid than this year.
Fox stated last month that he is very concerned about how the
trade liberalization process is unfolding, ''in light of the U.S.
subsidies to its agricultural production.''
He said he would take up the matter with the George W. Bush
administration, but there has not been any indication of action so
The Mexican president's aim would be to press the United
States to eliminate its farm subsidies, which total 19 billion
dollars a year, nearly double what Mexico has budgeted for its
farmers in 2003.
But Washington announced that it will not alter its farm
subsidy policies and that the situation of the Mexican farmers does
not justify annulment of the agricultural chapter of NAFTA.
Mexico would not ask for a suspension of the trade agreement's
farm provisions anyway, say Fox administration sources, because
doing so would mean revoking the country's recognition of the treaty
Since NAFTA took effect, Mexico's overall exports shot up from
60.9 billion dollars in 1994 to 158.4 billion dollars in 2001. In
that same period, imports jumped from 79.3 billion dollars to 168.4
billion dollars annually.
More than 85 percent of Mexican trade is currently
concentrated in exchange with the United States.
But for Mexico's rural areas, where 75 percent of the
population living in extreme poverty is concentrated, the three-
country treaty has meant the loss of more than 10 million hectares
of cultivated land.
And the decline of the rural sector has pushed 15 million
peasants -- and mostly young people -- to move to the cities, either
in Mexico or in the United States, according to a study by the
Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM).
Over the last 10 years, the participation of the farming
sector in Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from 7.3
percent to less than 5.0 percent.
The protests Tuesday echoed similar demonstrations in
November, including the blockade of a main federal highway by
farmers in the state of Morelos, neighboring the Mexico City federal
district, and protests by peasants from the southern states of
Oaxaca and Guerrero outside government offices in the capital.
The common denominator of all of these events is the rural
producers' rejection of NAFTA.
''The farmers are walking towards death because they are up
against the 'disloyal' trade competition from the United States and
the Mexican government's desertion of the countryside,'' says
Alberto Gsmez, UNORCA executive coordinator.
Without exception, Mexico's farmer organizations believe the
new phase of NAFTA-stipulated farm trade liberalization will
generate more poverty and prompt more people to leave rural areas.
They also reckon that the financial support Fox has promised
will not be nearly enough.
Mariano Ruiz, an analyst with the Mexico City-based Grupo de
Economistas y Asociados, says the worst blow for the Mexican farmers
will come in 2008 when the agricultural tariffs on products like
maize and beans are lifted.
An estimated 2.8 million Mexican farm families make their
livelihood from these commodities.
''The countryside is a time-bomb that could explode very
soon,'' commented Rosario Robles, chairwoman of the leftist
Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), the country's third political
The elderly farmer Martmnez, who joined his colleagues for the
Mexico City march Tuesday, does not believe in anything that the Fox
government is offering.
''I have heard many things in the two years since he took
office. The one thing for certain is that I am getting poorer and
poorer,'' he said.
|Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(5):375-80.
Seasonal diarrhoeal mortality among Mexican
Villa S, Guiscafre H, Martinez H, Munoz O, Gutierrez G.
Mexican Social Security Institute, Secretariat for Health,
Mexico City, Mexico.
The study investigated the effects on diarrhoeal deaths among
under-5-year-old Mexican children of the following variables:
season (summer or winter), region (north versus south), age group,
and place of death. Examination of death certificates indicated
that the distribution of deaths in 1989-90 was bimodal, with one
peak during the winter and a more pronounced one during the
summer. In 1993-94, however, the winter peak was higher than that
in the summer (odds ratio (OR) = 2.04). These findings were due
mostly to deaths among children aged 1-23 months (OR = 1.86).
Diarrhoeal mortality was highest among children aged 6-11 months
(OR = 2.23). During the winter, there was a significant increase
in the number of deaths that occurred in medical care units and
among children who had been seen by a physician before they died,
but deaths occurring at home showed no seasonal variation. In the
northern states, the reduction in diarrhoeal mortality was less in
winter than in summer (OR = 2.62). In the southern states, the
proportional reduction during the winter was similar to that in
PIP: In this study, the influence of season, region, age group,
and place of occurrence of death on diarrheal mortality among
under-five Mexican children was examined. Data on diarrheal deaths
from 1989 to 1995 were collected from the National Institute of
Statistics, Geography and Information, Mexico City. All diarrheal
deaths among under-fives were identified by month to determine
whether there was any seasonal pattern. Results showed that the
distribution of death in 1989-90 was bimodal, with one peak during
the winter and a more pronounced one during the summer. However,
in 1993-94, the winter peak was higher than that in summer [odds
ratio (OR) = 2.04]. This was caused mostly by deaths among
children aged 1-23 months (OR = 1.86). Diarrheal mortality was
highest among children aged 6-11 months (OR = 2.23). A significant
increase in the number of deaths occurred during winter in medical
care units, but deaths occurring at home showed no seasonal
variation. The reduction in diarrheal mortality in northern states
was less pronounced in winter than in summer (OR = 2.62); however,
in the southern states, the proportional reduction in winter was
similar to that in summer.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
U.S. hospitals along Mexican border say illegal
immigrants are costing them big money
By Lynn Brezcsky
Associated Press Writer
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Ambulances regularly race across
the bridges of the Rio Grande, bringing some of Mexico's
sickest to the nearest U.S. emergency room.
Obligated by federal law, the hospitals provide the
care and worry later about whether the billing addresses
patients give them are accurate. Often the addresses are
false -- and the hospitals get stuck with the bill.
Immigrant patients have inflated medical expenses for
insurance companies, Medicaid and paying customers,
officials say, and are overwhelming already busy
hospitals in one of nation's fastest-growing regions.
One recent study by the U.S.-Mexico Border Counties
Coalition, an American lobbying group, found U.S. border
hospitals provided at least $200 million a year in
uncompensated emergency care to illegal immigrants, $74
million of that in Texas.
''Shh, don't tell Iowa farmers that part of their
taxes are paying for trauma that occurs south of the
border,'' Dr. Lorenzo Pelly, a south Texas doctor, told
state lawmakers at a recent hearing.
Republican state Sen. Chris Harris said he was
shocked by what he called the ''dumping'' of Mexicans on
Policymakers are just being to assess the size of the
Brownsville Medical Center estimates losses averaging
at least $500,000 per month. At Thomason Hospital in El
Paso, officials said their first attempt to estimate the
cost found $1 million over just three months.
Thomason Hospital responded by retaining a Mexican
lawyer and requiring patients to sign ''pagares,'' or
promissory notes, that carry weight under Mexican law.
It also signed on with a firm that specializes in
collecting past due accounts in Mexico.
Even without the influx from Mexico, U.S. border
hospitals are straining to meet the region's growing
medical needs. Some have resorted to importing doctors
and offering nurses tuition grants and signing bonuses.
But the load really jumped as Mexicans looking for
work stream to factories along the border. The North
American Free Trade Agreement has stimulated business on
both sides of the border, but hospitals have not kept
NAFTA ''lacks the social economic infrastructure and
capacity'' to address the growth, said Eva Moya of the
Mexico Border Health Commission, made up of U.S. and
For the sick or injured on the Mexican side of the
border, the choice in a life-or-death situation can be a
three-hour journey inland to Monterrey, Mexico, or a
minutes-long trip to Brownsville, Laredo or El Paso.
The issue drew attention in September, when
4-year-old Larissa Guajardo, a U.S. citizen, died of
heart problems after crossing the Hidalgo-Reynosa
international bridge on the way to a hospital. Family
members blamed a delay caused by immigration officials,
who would not let the mother enter the country. The
mother lacked paperwork and had crossed the border
The Immigration and Naturalization Service said the
inspection process took only a few minutes and that
inspectors did not know the girl's illness was critical.
Once the seriousness was discovered, the mother was
allowed to enter on humanitarian grounds, the INS said.
The Sept. 11 attacks have also complicated the
situation along the border, with some authorities
worrying about what the ambulances might be holding.
''It is a security threat if they are going across
the border unchallenged, but at the same time, we don't
want to interfere with an emergency procedure,'' said
Carl Rusnok of the INS in Dallas.
The B&M International Bridge, which links
Brownsville with Matamoros, Mexico, has emergency
crossings down to a science, said Joe Galvan, president
of the company that runs it. The company has its own
security guards staffing both sides of the crossing, and
in medical emergencies a call goes out for the U.S. side
to clear a lane for fast passage.
Under a 1986 federal law, U.S. hospitals must treat
anyone who seeks emergency care, without regard to
immigration status or ability to pay. The government
gives hospitals extra funding to help poorer regions
absorb the costs of unreimbursed care, but hospitals say
it is not enough.
''This becomes a particular philosophical question
that these doctors are having,'' said Dominic Dominguez,
an administrator at Brownsville Medical Center. ''Part
of my signing to serve in this community is, I'll cover
this emergency room. But I didn't sign on to cover
• • •
On the Net:
Border health commission: http://www.borderhealth.gov
Border counties coalition: http://www.bordercounties.org
60.2% of people living with AIDS in Mexico
don't have access to Social Security services, from these, only 3.5%
gets attention at private institutions. Source: "Costs and
expenses of AIDS medical attention in Mexico" by Jorge Saavedra,
M.D. and Carlos Magis, M. D.
"Also, through informative campaigns and
with the support of health workers, we have started prevention
programs of new diseases affecting society, like the sad and dramatic
case of AIDS. It is encouraging to confirm that the AIDS
campaign, with great social support, has allowed to break down
the growth rate of this terrible illness, in particular during these
last three years. Nevertheless, we must say, the problem still
remains serious for the amount of infected people who don't even know
they are. That's why, I reiterate, that not only we'll mantain
but we'll also reinforce the AIDS campaign, because prevention keeps
being the only realistic alternative that we have against what is
known as the "Disease of the Century" and, of course, we'll
keep doing the best possible effort to assist to whom sadly are
already suffering the cruel illness, the compromise of the
Government of the Republic with the health of all mexicans and
specially our young ones, who are in major risk of infection,
it's unrefusable and it doesn't admit backing outs." Dr.
Ernesto Zedillo. President of Mexico. Fragment of the speach in
the Day of the Doctor, october 23rd.
The Conjoint Program of the United Nations on
HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has decided, along with its sponsors and associates,
to center the 1998 World Campaign Against AIDS on young people.
Among the main reasons of this decision are the following: More
than 50% of the new HIV infections, the virus which causes AIDS, are
actually produced in young people in the age group from 10 to 24
years. Young people are specially vulnerable to HIV infection
and are resulting seriously affected by the epidemic. Young
people hav the ability to modify the course of the epidemic.
This population group is not only infected and affected by
HIV/AIDS, but it's the key resource to mobilize a wide and efficient
In Mexico, the poorest 20% of population
gathers only 4.2% of the total income of the country, while the
wealthiest 20% has 55% of the national income. In 1995, the
fortune of the wealthiest mexican citizen was equivalent to the income
of 17 million of the poorest mexicans all together. Dr. Peter
Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
"In Latinamerica, we estimate that in
1997, 160 thousand people were infected by HIV, which is equivalent to
approximately to the number of people that got infected in the same
year in Europe and Northamerica together." Dr. Peter Piot,
Executive Director of UNAIDS.
"Everyday, 16 thousand people get
infected by HIV in the world. 75% of new AIDS cases are by
sexual relations. Seven thousand are young people between
the ages of 10 and 24, which means that every minute 5 youngsters get
infected." Sally Cowel, UNAIDS Foreign Relations Secretary.
By year 2000, we'll all know someone with
AIDS, it can be a friend, a work or school partner, a relative or
maybe ourselves. World Health Organization.
"AIDS is the most complex public
health program of the country." Dr. Juan Ramón de la Fuente,
Drug approvals are faster every time, yet not
This year's slogan of the AIDS Campaign will
"It's in the man's hands to change the course of the AIDS
"I reiterate that the government of the
Republic will not back off in the presence of any kind of pressure
against public campaigns of family planification and AIDS
prevention." Dr. Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico.
In 1988, in the age group from 25 to 34, AIDS
was the 18th cause of death, while in 1992 it already had taken the
5th place. Among men, AIDS as a cause of death went from the
11th to the 4th place in 1991. In 1998 AIDS didn't appear within
the first 20 causes of death in the women's group, but in 1992 it
already had the 12th place. "Public Health in Mexico"
- "Salud Pública de México" publication, from march/april
of 1996, page 143. J. A. Izazola, M. García Valdez, H. J. Sánchez
P., C. del Rio Chiriboga.
In Mexico, AIDS is the third cause of death
at a national level among men in the ages from 25 to 24, and the sixth
among women in that same age. General Office of Statistics and
Computing of the Health Sector.
Every day, 16 thousand people contract HIV,
from which, 7 thousand are in the age range from 10 to 24, which means
that each minute 5 youngsters get infected. To date, 30 million
600 thousand have gotten infected. 90% of the AIDS cases are in
third world countries. UNAIDS.
It is estimated that up to december 1997, the
number of infected people worldwide is of 30.6 million of people,
which almost doubles the estimated by experts a few years ago.
During 1997 in all the world, more than 590 thousand children acquired
the virus and it is estimated that from here to year 2010 there will
be 42 million orphan children because of AIDS. UNAIDS.
According to the prevailing cases of AIDS,
not the number, Mexico takes the 69th place worldwide and the 29th in
Latinamerica and the Caribbean. CONASIDA.
According to a publication in the Reforma
newspaper, in Mexico City everyday are committed 12 sexual crimes, 90%
on women and 10% in men.
In public hospitals of the Federal District,
every year are given 29 million of doctor appointments, including the
Mexican Institute of Social Security, the Institute of Social Security
to the Service of Government Workers, Armed Forces, Mexican Oil,
health centers and Hospitals of the Federal District Department, from
which 21 million are given to health benificiaries and the rest to the
open public, according to data given by the director of the Health
Institute of the Federal District. Manuel Ruiz de Chávez.
During 1996, a health budget for $10 thousand
641 million pesos was exercised. The budget for 1997 was of $18
thousand 421 million pesos.
Budget programmed for the branch 23 during
1996 was of $31 thousand 499 million pesos, from which only $6
thousand 640 million of pesos was exercised. For 1997 the budget
was of $38 thousand 339 million pesos, more than the double of what
was destined for health. Data published by the Reforma newspaper
on November 13th, 1997.
In the project of Budget of the Federation
for 1998, a health expense for $80 thousand million pesos is
considered. This proyect calculates to incorporate 600 thousand
additional people to the Wide Covering Program "PAC",
indicating that it will attend 6 million 600 thousand mexicans in
total with the Basic Packet of Health Services. PAC will cover
in 1998 to two thirds of the population that in 1994 didn't have
health services and lives in 600 of the poorest municipalities of the
There are 56 etnias in our country; this
indigenous towns are formed by approximately 10 million of people,
according to data from the Government Office.
In the actuality, there are 94.7 million of
habitants in Mexico, if the expected population goals are met, for the
year 2000 there will be 100 million, for the year 2010 there will be
112 million and for the year 2030 there will be 131 million. The
national average age in which a woman gets married is at 20. In
the middle and high classes, the woman dedicates 10.5 years to the
raising of her children, which is the time that occurs from the birth
of her first child until the last one grows to be 6 years old; in the
poor class this period is of 25 years. Every year the population
grows in 1 million 400 thousand habitants, and there are needed 1
million of new jobs. It is calculated that each year between 100
thousand and 150 thousand abortions are practiced. Source:
National Council for Population - CONAPO.
In the last 20 years, birth rate in Mexico
has decreased to 50%, on the other hand, pregnancy among teenagers
under 20 doubled, giving the fifth part of births per year, which is
equivalent to 450 thousand pregnancies. 67% of pregnant minors
were born from teenager moms; only 17% of young couples use
contraceptive methods. According to UNICEF numbers, published in
the Reforma newspaper on March 15th, 1998, page 30.
In Mexico, 150 thousand women abort annually,
according to data from the National Council of Population - CONAPO.
But Non-Governmental Organizations, such as GIRE, estimate that they
are 850 thousand.
INEGI informs that the gross domestic product
from january to september, 1997, rised up to 396 billion 222.5
million dollars, which is equal to 4 thousand 182.70 per habitant.
According to information given by the SECOFI,
from january to august, 1997, foreign investment was of $5,543
millions of dollars, mainly from the United States of America.
Data published by the La Jornada newspaper,
shows that 40 million of mexicans live in poverty, 17 million in
extreme poverty. One of each five families doesn't get enough
income to buy the food required for the nutrition of its members.
One of each two mexicans in the field and one of each nine in the city
live in extreme poverty. In the Federal District there are 20
thousand street kids (13 thousand, according to the Human Rights
Commission of the Federal District), 13 thousand homeless adults attending
424 shelters, 446 thousand indigenous people who earn less than
minimum wage and 590 thousand elders who live from charity.
40 million of mexicans show malnutrition
problems; of these 17.7 million live in urban zones and 22.3 million
live in rural zones. Information given by Foodfirst Information
and Action Network on the World Feeding Day.
According to the annual report "World
state of childhood" of the United Nations Fund for the Children -
UNICEF, in rural zones of Mexico, 58% of children under the age of 5
show physical and mental deficiencies due to malnutrition. The
normal intelectual coefficient of 100, sees itself diminished by 10%
and stature by 5 inches. According to a study conducted by
Securities Action Capital, published in the newspaper La Jornada last
december 9th, the delay index of commerce debtors in our country, went
from 13.1% of the total credit portfolio in december of 1994, to 45.4%
in 1995, to 49% in 1996 and to 53.1% in september 1997.
The Human Development Report of 1998, made by
the United Nations, and spreaded by its Development Program of the
United Nations - PNUD, on september 9th of 1998, considers that
14.9% of mexicans survive with a dollar a day.
Mexico has a human poverty index - IPX - of
10.7%, which means that this percentage of population is excluded in
base of three essential elements: longevity, knowledge and quality of
This index, in which Mexico takes the 49th
place worldwide, considers life expectancy, access to education and
the real income level.
8% of mexicans won't live to be 40, 17% of
population don't have access to drinkable water, 7% don't have any
kind of health services and 28% don't have sanitation services.
Only 66% of population between the ages of 6
and 23 has access to education. In 1980 this percentage of 68%,
in other words, the number has decreased against what was expected.
Up to here the report of PNUD.
In our country, there are 9 million of people
with some kind of disability.
Programs of banking rescue will channel
fiscal funds way over 77 thousand, 400 million pesos ending 1977;
while the following portfolio sales to the Bank Fund for the Savings
Protection "FOBAPROA" got to 236 thousand 220.6 million
pesos to the end of the first semester, equivalent to 28 thousand
million one hundred and twenty one thousand five hundred dollars.
It is estimated that at the end of december
of 1997 there are about 13,500 people living with AIDS, from which 50%
don't have access to social security, and their individual treatment
cost would go up to 84 thousand pesos a year at least, equivalent to
10 thousand dollars, for a total of 6,750 people of $ 67 million 500
thousand dollars, which is what FONSIDA expects to raise.
According to studies published by two of the
most important diaries in Germany and reproduced by the Reforma
newspaper, referring to the problems what the new government of the
city of Mexico will have to face, say that "the indifferent and
inefficient attitude of the police, that only gets to solve 2% of the
total of reported crime, against 20% in New York, 30% in London and up
to 60% in some german cities".
In the United States of America, 74 million
of people have used some kind of illegal drug at a specific moment in
their lives. There are 13 millon of frequent consumers of
illegal subtances in this country. Main illegal drugs being
consumed are: marihuana, cocaine, crack, LSD and heroine. A
great number of americans begin cosuming drugs at the age of 12.
According to data from the National Office for Drug Control of the
White House of the United States of America, AIDS is an illness
frequentl associated with illegal drug consuming in the United
States of America.
"Halt on the development of an AIDS
vaccine, violates all the ethic principles and human rights".
Jonathan M. Mann.
Predictions say that there will be 100
million of people living with HIV/AIDS for the year 2007. UNAIDS.
Governments from each country should consider
fight against AIDS as the main priority in the national agenda.
Mrs. Ruth Cardoso. First lady of Brasil.
In Mexico, there are 60 million of people
living in poverty, from which, 20 million are in extreme poverty,
surviving with less than $2.00 dollars a day. Report from the
In our country, there are 9 million people
with some kind of disability.
LEBANON TO MEXICO??
to web version)
When Border Patrol officials in San Diego learned last June
about circumstances surrounding a dead body deposited at the county
medical examiner's office, they sent over an agent with a radiation
"It was an out-of-the-ordinary situation, where you had an
individual from the Middle East who was found along our border,"
said Raleigh Leonard, spokesman for the Border Patrol's San Diego
sector. The man had been dropped off at a local hospital, Leonard told
me, "by people who said that he had crossed illegally into the
United States and was subsequently found . . . throwing up
He was 21-year-old Youseff Balaghi. He had come from faraway
Lebanon to the border near Tijuana.
"He was suffering from some very serious illness that no
one at that particular time could identify," said Leonard.
"He died. He was turned over to the San Diego County Medical
Examiner's office. They called us."
"We did not perform an autopsy," said Dr. Jonathan
Lucas, deputy medical examiner for San Diego County. The man's family,
Lucas told me, refused consent for the procedure on religious grounds,
but blood and urine samples were drawn for standard toxicology tests.
These showed nothing particularly unusual, and the cause of death was
listed as "undetermined."
By the time the Border Patrol arrived with its radiation
detector, the body was gone but the blood and urine samples remained.
"At that time," said Leonard, "many of us were
looking into information regarding dirty bombs.
"We had been studying and attending classes ever since
September 11th in regards to terrorist-related activity so we are very
keen on terrorist-type weapons, tactics, dirty bombs, different
behavioral patterns, but also some of the sicknesses that are
attributed to radiation poisoning," he said.
Fortunately, the detector showed Balaghi was clean.
That's the good news.
The bad news: Balaghi wasn't the only Middle Eastern illegal who
slipped across our Mexican border.
Salim Boughader-Mucharrafille, a Tijuana restaurateur, conducted
a regular business running Middle Easterners into California.
Last December, U.S. Attorney Carol C. Lam of San Diego unsealed
an indictment charging Boughader, a Mexican citizen, and two other
Mexicans, Patricia Serrano-Valdez and Jose Alvarez Duenas, with alien
An affidavit filed in federal court by Senior Border Patrol
Agent John R. Korkin said an investigation "positively identified
at least 80 Lebanese nationals that have been, or were in the process
of being, smuggled into the U.S. from November 19, 1999 to the present
by a smuggling organization of affiliated individuals headed and
coordinated by Boughader."
Boughader, Serrano and Duenas all cut plea bargains. Assistant
U.S. Attorney Mike Skerlos, who prosecuted the case, said Serrano ran
a safe house for Boughader in San Diego and Duenas was a
"coyote" who guided aliens across the border. Boughader,
Skerlos said, admitted in court to smuggling more than 100 people.
Neither Serrano nor Duenas, he said, were involved in the incident
that resulted in the death of Balaghi, but Boughader pleaded guilty in
Balaghi's case to smuggling an alien "resulting in death."
I asked Skerlos whether any of the Middle Easterners smuggled by
Boughader had ties to terrorist organizations. "No comment,"
Boughader's organization, said Korkin's affidavit, "employs
several individuals and co-conspirators in various countries including
As a result of his plea bargain, Boughader will serve only one
year and one day in prison. Hopefully, he has been induced to help
investigators track his clients.
Since December, the San Diego Union-Tribune has run two reports
revealing that Balaghi's remains were tested for radiation.
I asked Leonard how often the Border Patrol in his sector
intercepts Middle Eastern illegals. "It happens," he said.
"It's not by any means unusual. But it isn't every day."
"Radiation detectors," he also told me, "are
being issued out to the Border Patrol agents. We are in the process of
putting together a standard operations procedure packet, telling
agents how to operate them . . . how they will be used, where they
will be used. As soon as that is completed the devices will be issued
out to the agents, absolutely.
"Just one more thing," said Leonard. "We're out
there securing and protecting our nation's borders, and we take these
terrorist and terrorist-related threats very seriously, and we're
working hard to protect and secure our nation's borders."
That's a certainty. Law enforcement in San Diego -- from the
Border Patrol, to the federal prosecutors to the county medical
examiner -- are doing their best. But as long as Middle Eastern aliens
keep sneaking in from Mexico, it is an equal certainty these officers
are not getting all the support they need from policymakers in
TRUCK TRAILER BECOMES A COFFIN
Source: PAULINE ARRILLAGA Associated Press
DALLAS --- It was midafternoon by the time the big
rig rolled into Love's truck stop off I-20 in Dallas. As soon as the
drivers climbed out, they heard fists pounding on the inside of the
trailer walls.Jason Sprague lifted the latch. The cargo doors flew
wide.More than 40 illegal immigrants --- packed into the unventilated
cargo compartment 12 hours earlier --- came tumbling out.A woman,
sobbing, hurled her fists at Sprague's co-driver, Troy Dock. Others,
unable to move,
Published on May 25, 2004, Page A1, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
Mexico call over migrant deaths
Mexico says the deaths of 18 suspected illegal immigrants
who suffocated inside a trailer in Texas shows the need to
legalise the migration of workers across the US border.
A Mexican foreign ministry statement condemned what it called
"this lamentable incident" and promised co-operation
with the US in tackling immigrant trafficking.
The grim discovery of the bodies at a rest stop in Texas was
one of the worst cases of people smuggling in the border area in
Survivors have been speaking of their desperation as they
struggled to escape from the back of the tractor-trailer where
it is believed up to 100 people were crammed.
One person inside the sweltering container used a mobile
phone to make an emergency call, pleading in Spanish for help as
But the call could not be traced.
Police eventually found the trailer at a truck rest stop near
the city of Victoria, about 370 kilometres (230 miles) from the
Mexican border early on Wednesday.
The victims - many of them Mexicans but some from Central
America - appeared to have died from suffocation and heat
exhaustion, US officials said.
Some of the 39 survivors in US custody have told Mexican
consular officials that smugglers loaded them onto the trailer
on Tuesday and the air conditioning inside at first worked well.
But when the driver unhooked his cab and abandoned the
trailer some hours later, it soon became airless.
"In desperation, the people said they broke out the
truck's taillights to try and attract someone's attention and
perhaps get some air," Marco Nunez of the Mexican consul's
office in Houston told AP.
Some of the victims were said to have torn off their clothes
because of the heat.
Police have arrested the trailer's registered owner and are
were still looking for two other people, US officials said.
The authorities also believe 40 illegal immigrants who
tumbled out of the vehicle alive when it was opened managed to
The Mexican Government has long pressed Washington to make it
easier for Mexicans to come to the US legally.
Every year thousands of Latin Americans make the hazardous
journey and are often at the mercy of smuggling gangs.
"This lamentable incident shows the need for and
importance of achieving safe conditions on the border for
migrants and the need for safe, legal and orderly
migration," the foreign ministry statement read.
"The Mexican Government reiterates its commitment to
fight gangs of immigrant traffickers and those who seek to
profit at the expense of undocumented migrants."
DOORS TO DEATH: PART 1
Source: Associated Press
CHAPARRAL, N.M. --- The 18-wheeler pulled off the
desert highway and rumbled down a pockmarked clay road, its headlights
raking a desolate hamlet of double-wides. The big rig, making an
unscheduled detour at the start of a midnight run from El Paso to
Dallas, slowed as it approached a dingy mobile home. Then the
headlights snapped off. It turned through a gap in a chain-link fence
and backed in close to the house. Jason Sprague climbed down from the
cab and swung open the trailer's
Published on May 24, 2004, Page A1, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
Source: Associated Press
FRESNO, Calif. --- President Bush's plan to give
undocumented workers temporary legal status brings back painful
memories for Florentino Lararios, who spent 14 grueling years in a
similar World War II-era program. Lararios, a 77-year-old with large,
rough hands that never mastered a pencil, recalls the back-breaking
work picking cotton in the South, the slapped-together communal
housing, the cold meals eaten in the fields, and the unwelcome
prospect of going back to Mexico without a
Published on January 14, 2004, Page C7, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
BUSH PLANS TO HELP ILLEGALS
Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON --- Promoting a plan that could brighten
his election-year prospects with Hispanic voters, President Bush on
Wednesday proposed legal status --- at least temporarily --- for
millions of illegal immigrants working in the United States. But the
sweeping policy overhaul, offered with few specifics, also angered
many in the president's conservative Republican base of support and
drew criticism from advocacy groups who questioned whether it would do
much to help
Published on January 8, 2004, Page A1, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
- Jose Latour's Port of Entry Daily Column -
Guys, today's article is based on some research that Cynthia,
"my shiny, brilliant new assistant," dug up on MSNBC.
The information is a little grim, it is very compelling and, I'm afraid,
it is indicative of where our national immigration policy seems to be
Let's start off with a sobering fact: according to the statistics
kept by the Mexican government, here's a look at the fatalities of Mexicans
on the border for the past five years:
1997 - 129 deaths
1998 - 297 deaths
1999 - 358 deaths
2000 - 455 deaths
2001 (through Sept. of that year, the latest statistics available) -
While the 2001 statistic indicates a comparative reduction in
when contrasted with the prior year, the overall pattern is clear: more Mexicans
are dying on the border. Why?
According to MSNBC and various other sources we've researched,
human rights groups are blaming increased enforcement by the U.S. Border
Patrol as a primary reason. But how exactly does a nation's protection
of its own border cause the deaths
of those seeking to unlawfully enter the country? Moreover, does a
nation's sovereign right to control entry onto its own soil carry with
it extraordinary responsibilities designed to ensure that, in their
desperation, the would-be illegal
migrants do not risk life and limb to circumvent the deterrents to their
In 1994, the U.S. Border Patrol launched Operation "Gate
Keeper" at the border near San Diego, where the majority of illegal
Mexican entries into the United States occur. The operation has resulted
in increased manpower, expanded fencing, intensified lighting, and
amplified monitoring via underground sensors designed to sense the
movement of individuals across the ground. These enforcement tools have
resulted in the migrants seeking to cross more difficult terrain to
enter the United States. Accordingly, by crossing through more difficult
parts of the desert and by the traversing of the Rio Grande, the major
causes of death among would-be migrants are drowning and heatstroke
according to the California Rural Assistance Foundation.
Now, I have to be careful how I ask this question, but I must ask
How can human rights groups blame the U.S. government
for the deaths
of these individuals when the only thing that the U.S. government has
done is increase enforcement, completely appropriate with national
In other words, if the U.S. government has a responsibility to
leave open easy routes for illegal
migration into the United States, we are essentially asking the federal
government to give up its sovereign right. By blaming the federal
government for these deaths,
human rights groups are essentially placing the responsibility for the
motivation of illegal
migration on the U.S. government, and I respectfully submit to you that
is not fair. A cause and effect explanation of the deaths,
yes, absolutely! But to blame the U.S. Border Patrol is simply
No sir, the fault for these tragic deaths
in the desert and through drowning lies squarely on the groups of
cowardly "coyotes," the weasel alien smugglers who take the
big bucks to violate our federal laws. They are the primary
parties responsible for these tragic deaths.
Secondly, as politically incorrect as it is, the second
most responsible parties are the individuals themselves who embark upon
these journeys to make an illegal
entry. (Yes, I see the tomatoes flying. I understand that these
individuals are desperate and seeking new lives in the United States. I
further understand that they come from impoverished countries and are
seeking better lives, but I also understand that these individuals are
consciously making the decision to enter illegally into another
country in defiance of that country's laws and, as adult human beings,
are making calculated decisions in doing so. For human rights
organizations to blame the Border Patrol for the death of an individual
who has made such a decision is simply to place blame on the wrong
party. Free will exists in these situations.)
Okay, enough with the tomatoes.
In the MSNBC report much is made of the fact that Mr. Bush was
courting Mexico's President Fox with vague promises of some sort of
amnesty to resolve the status of the estimated three million illegal
residing in the United States. After September 11, the notion of amnesty
aliens seems as elusive as peace in the Middle East. But consider these
numbers and you will understand the nature of the issue:
From 1901 - 1970, approximately 1.5 million Mexicans
immigrated legally to the United States.
From 1981 - 1990, less than nine years, more than 1.6 million Mexicans
did the same thing.
From 1991 - 1998, 1.9 million immigrated legally.
It is evident that the number of Mexicans
immigrating legally to the United States is certainly not decreasing.
The number immigrating illegally is equally on the rise.
In fiscal year 2000, from October 1, 2000 until September 30,
2001, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 1,643,679 illegal
aliens along the border. The largest increase, according to MSNBC, has
been in Arizona while there was a decline along the California border,
historically the busiest entry point for illegal
aliens into the U.S.
What does all this mean for the rest of us who are not from Mexico
but who are concerned about immigration policy? It's hard to tell right
now, but these are the questions that must be answered in the coming
months and years:
How will the U.S. formulate an immigration policy that gives
Mexico the special treatment she deserves as our southern neighbor
with very unique immigration needs?
How will the U.S. formulate an ongoing evolution of trade
policy addressing the reality that Mexico's illegal
immigration stems almost solely from economic need, not cultural
About 5.0 million undocumented
immigrants were residing in the United States in October 1996, with a
range of about 4.6 to 5.4 million .
The population was estimated to be growing by about 275,000 each year,
which is about 25,000 lower than the annual level of growth estimated by
the INS in 1994.
California is the leading state of
residence, with 2.0 million, or 40 percent of the undocumented
population. The 7 states with the largest estimated numbers of
undocumented immigrants--California (2.0 million), Texas (700,000), New
York (540,000), Florida (350,000), Illinois (290,000), New Jersey
(135,000), and Arizona (115,000)--accounted for 83 percent of the total
population in October 1996.
The 5.0 million undocumented
immigrants made up about 1.9 percent of the total U.S. population, with
the highest percentages in California, the District of Columbia, and
Texas. In the majority of states, undocumented residents comprise less
than 1 percent of the population.
Mexico is the leading country of
origin, with 2.7 million, or 54 percent, of the population. The Mexican
undocumented population has grown at an average annual level of just
over 150,000 since 1988. The 15 countries with 50,000 or more
undocumented immigrants in 1996 accounted for 82 percent of the total
population. The large majority, over 80 percent, of all undocumented
immigrants are from countries in the Western Hemisphere.
About 2.1 million, or 41 percent, of
the total undocumented population in 1996 are nonimmigrant overstays.
That is, they entered legally on a temporary basis and failed to depart.
The proportion of the undocumented population who are overstays varies
considerably by country of origin. About 16 percent of the Mexican
undocumented population are nonimmigrant overstays, compared to 26
percent of those from Central America, and 91 percent from all other
In 1994 the INS released detailed
estimates of the undocumented immigrant population residing in the
United States as of October 1992. Those estimates were useful for a
variety of purposes, including planning and policy development at the
national and state level, evaluating the effects of proposed
legislation, and assessing the fiscal impacts of undocumented
Over the past 2 years, the INS has
revised those estimates and updated them to October 1996. The estimates
presented here incorporate new data on the foreign-born population
collected by the Census Bureau, improvements in the methodology
recommended by the General Accounting Office (GAO), suggestions provided
by outside reviewers, and further analyses of INS' data sources and
estimation procedures. Revised and updated estimates of the undocumented
population have been computed for each state of residence and for nearly
100 countries of origin.
The estimates were constructed by
combining detailed statistics, by year of entry, for each component of
change that contributes to the undocumented immigrant population
residing in the United States. For most countries of the world, the
typical way of entering the undocumented population in the United States
is to arrive as a nonimmigrant and stay beyond the specified period of
admission. This segment of the population, referred to here as
"nonimmigrant overstays", constitutes roughly 40 percent of
the undocumented immigrant population residing in the United States. The
rest of the population, more widely publicized, enter surreptitiously
across land borders, usually between official ports of entry. This part
of the population, often referred to as EWIs (entry without inspection),
includes persons from nearly every country, but a large majority of them
are from Mexico; most of the rest are natives of Central American
Primary Sets of Data
The figures presented here were
constructed from five primary sets of data. Each set of data was
compiled separately for 99 countries and each continent of origin.
1) Entered before 1982--estimates (as
of October 1988) of the undocumented immigrant population who
established residence in the United States before 1982 and did not
legalize under the Immigration
Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The assumption used to
estimate this part of the population is based on estimates developed by
the Census Bureau using data from the June 1988 Current Population
2) Net overstays--estimates for 1982
to 1996 of the net number of nonimmigrant overstays, for 99 countries of
origin, derived from INS data bases. Estimates were derived by: a)
matching INS I-94 arrival/departure records; b) adjusting for the
incomplete collection of departure forms; and c) subtracting the number
of nonimmigrant overstays who subsequently either departed or adjusted
to legal resident status.
3) Net EWIs--estimates of the number
from each country who entered without inspection (EWI) and established
residence here between 1982 and 1996. A very large majority of all EWIs
are from Mexico. Average annual estimates of Mexican EWIs were derived
by: a) adjusting the CPS count of the Mexican-born population for
underenumeration; b) subtracting the estimated legally resident
population counted in the CPS; and c) subtracting the estimated number
of net overstays.
4) Mortality--estimates of the annual
number of deaths to the resident undocumented immigrant population. The
estimates were derived using an annual crude death rate of 3.9 per
1,000, which was computed using a modified age distribution of IRCA
applicants and age-specific death rates of the foreign-born population.
5) Emigration--estimates of the
number of undocumented immigrants who resided here at the beginning of a
period (either October 1988 or October 1992), and who emigrated from the
United States in the following 4-year period. Estimates of emigration
are based on statistics published by the Census
Bureau in Technical Paper No. 9.
Construction of the Estimates
Estimates of the undocumented
immigrant population were derived for October 1988, October 1992, and
October 1996 for 99 individual countries and for each continent of
origin. The calculations were carried out separately for overstays and
Estimates by State of Residence
In the earlier estimates for October
1992, the state distribution of the undocumented population was based on
the U.S. residence pattern of each country's applicants for legalization
under IRCA; the results were summed to obtain state totals. This assumed
that, for each country of origin, undocumented immigrants who resided in
the United States in October 1992 had the same U.S. residence pattern as
IRCA applicants from that country. The revised and updated estimates
presented here incorporate the same assumption for the October 1988
undocumented population. However, it was necessary to develop new
methods of deriving state estimates for October 1992 and 1996 that would
reflect more recent patterns of geographic settlement.
As noted, the estimates of the
undocumented population were constructed separately for overstays and
EWIs. This permitted the distribution of the overstay and EWI
populations to states using data most appropriate for the type of
population. For overstays, the cohorts that arrived in the 1988-92 and
1992-96 periods were distributed to state of residence based on annual
estimates of overstays by state of destination for 1986 to 1989. For
EWIs who entered during these periods, the totals were distributed to
state of residence using INS statistics for the early 1990s on the
destination of the beneficiaries of aliens who legalized under IRCA.
Estimating the size of a hidden
population is inherently difficult. Overall, the figures presented here
generally reflect the size, origin, and geographic distribution of the
undocumented immigrant population residing in the United States during
the mid-1990s. The estimates probably reduce the range of error for the
total population to a few hundred thousand rather than a few million,
which was the error range during the late 1970s and into the 1980s. The
estimates for most countries should be fairly precise because they were
constructed primarily from data on nonimmigrant arrivals, departures,
and adjustments of status that have relatively small margins of error.
Although the estimates are based on
the most reliable information available, they clearly have limitations.
For example, the estimates make no allowance for students or other
long-term nonimmigrants, and the estimates for some countries could be
underestimated because of special circumstances (e.g., Dominicans
entering illegally via Puerto Rico; ships arriving undetected from
The figures for some countries
overstate the actual undocumented population. In general, the net
nonimmigrant overstay figures are more likely to be overestimates than
underestimates because the collection of departure forms for long-term
overstays who depart probably is less complete than for those who depart
within the first year.
The estimates include a large number
of persons who have not been admitted for lawful permanent residence but
are permitted to remain in the United States pending the determination
of their status or until conditions improve in their country of origin.
This category includes many of the undocumented immigrants from El
Salvador, aliens from other countries in a status referred to as
"deferred enforced departure", and IRCA applicants whose cases
have not been finally resolved.
In a few cases, the estimates appear
to be too high, but we have no basis for making downward adjustments.
For example, the estimates for the Bahamas appear to be much too large
because they imply that a relatively large proportion of the population
is residing illegally in the United States, whereas large-scale
undocumented immigration from the Bahamas has not been observed
previously. In addition, undocumented immigration from Dominica is
considerably higher than would be expected based on the number of IRCA
applicants from Dominica. This overstatement could have occurred because
of processing problems with I-94 arrival/departure documents, with the
result that overstays from Dominica are overestimated and those from the
Dominican Republic underestimated.
The number of EWIs is the most
difficult component to estimate with precision, and errors in this
component have the largest effect on the estimated undocumented
population from Mexico. In particular, the shortage of information about
two components--emigration of legally resident immigrants and undercount
in the CPS--makes it difficult to derive acceptable residual estimates
of the number of undocumented immigrants counted in the CPS.
The estimates presented here are
based on the most extensive array of figures ever compiled for the
purpose; nevertheless, they should be used with caution because of the
inherent limitations in the data available for estimating the
undocumented immigrant population. This uncertainty was addressed by
using alternative assumptions to produce "high" and
"low" population estimates for October 1996. In the following
discussion of the estimates, the mid-range population figures are used
for simplicity of presentation.
The total number of undocumented
immigrants residing in the United States in October 1996 is estimated to
be 5.0 million , with a range of about 4.6 to 5.4 million. The estimate
for October 1996 is about 1.1 million higher than the revised estimate
of 3.9 million for October 1992; this implies that the population grew
by about 275,000 annually during the 1992-96 period, about the same as
the annual growth of 281,000 estimated for the previous period. The
original INS estimates for October 1992 and October 1988, released in
1994, showed average annual growth of 300,000.
The undocumented population grows at
varying levels from year to year, but the data available to make these
estimates do not permit the derivation of annual figures to measure
year-to-year changes. However, the similar levels of growth for the
1988-92 and 1992-96 periods, 281,000 and 275,000, respectively, suggest
that the overall level of growth has been fairly constant over the past
decade. This also indicates that the rate of growth of the undocumented
resident population has declined since 1988.
State of Residence
The estimates for states reflect the
well-established pattern of geographic concentration of undocumented
immigrants in the United States. As expected, California was the leading
state of residence, with 2.0 million, or 40 percent, of the total number
of undocumented residents in October 1996. Seven states--California (2.0
million), Texas (700,000), New York (540,000), Florida (350,000),
Illinois (290,000), New Jersey (135,000), and Arizona
(115,000)--accounted for 83 percent of the population in October 1996.
The estimated undocumented population
of California has grown by an average of about 100,000 annually since
the end of the IRCA legalization program in 1988. More than 83 percent
of total growth of the undocumented population since 1988 has occurred
in the top seven states. With the exception of Massachusetts (6,000),
none of the remaining 43 states grew by more than 3,000 undocumented
residents annually. In 27 states, the undocumented population grew by an
average of 1,000 or less each year.
Country of Origin
Mexico is the leading source country
of undocumented immigration to the United States. In October 1996 an
estimated 2.7 million undocumented immigrants from Mexico had
established residence here . Mexican undocumented immigrants constituted
about 54 percent of the total undocumented population. The estimated
population from Mexico increased by just over 150,000 annually in both
the 1988-92 and 1992-96 periods.
The estimated number of Mexican
undocumented immigrants who arrived between 1990 and 1996 is based on
data on country of birth and year of immigration collected by the Census
Bureau in the March 1994, 1995, and 1996 Current
Population Surveys (CPS) Demographic analysis of the CPS data
indicates that approximately 230,000 undocumented Mexican immigrants
established residence annually between 1990 and 1996. This is the net
annual addition of undocumented Mexicans who arrived during the period.
Note, however, that it does not reflect the average annual growth of the
Mexican undocumented population. To compute average annual growth it is
necessary to subtract the number of undocumented Mexicans who lived here
in January 1990 and who emigrated, died, or adjusted to legal permanent
resident status during the 1990-96 period. This last step produces the
estimate cited above of just over 150,000 annual growth of the Mexican
undocumented population since 1988.
In October 1996, 15 countries were
each the source of 50,000 or more undocumented immigrants. The top five
countries are geographically close to the United states--Mexico, El
Salvador, Guatemala, Canada, and Haiti. Of the top 15 countries, only
the Philippines and Poland are outside the Western Hemisphere. The
estimated undocumented population from Poland has declined by more than
25 percent, from 95,000 to 70,000, since 1988, possibly reflecting
changed conditions in that country over the last several years.
Although undocumented immigrants come
to the United States from all countries the world, relatively few
countries add substantially to the population. The annual growth of the
undocumented population can be grouped into four disparate categories:
1) Mexico, with more than half of the annual growth, adds just over
150,000 undocumented residents each year; 2) six countries--El Salvador,
Guatemala, Canada, Haiti, Honduras, and the Bahamas--each add between
6,000 and 12,000 annually; 3) thirteen countries each add about 2,000 to
4,000 annually; and 4) the remaining approximately 200 other countries
add a total of about 30,000 undocumented residents each year . A large
majority of the additions each year, more than 80 percent, are from
countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Silver Lake Gang War
Homeboys and hipsters struggle to claim Silver Lake by Christine Pelisek
Oct 10-16, 2003
On a recent afternoon a Latino woman and her son wearily shuffle
past a makeshift shrine in front of a shabby apartment complex on the
700 block of Vendome Street. The shrine, nearly obscured by a discarded
mattress and other litter, is dedicated to Valentin Rangel, a member of
the Silver Lake 13 gang. He died there in a hail of bullets over Labor
Day weekend, two months shy of his 26th birthday. A half-dozen Mexican
religious candles, a few still burning, decorate the scene. A photo of a
smiling Rangel is propped up next to them. Scattered alongside the photo
are personal mementos . two skateboarding magazines, a pair of black
sunglasses and a Holy Bible. .RIP Val. is spray-painted on the street in
front of the memorial. Across the street, on the corner of Vendome and
Marathon, a small bouquet of wildflowers and one Mexican candle mark the
spot where Rangel.s brother Mario was gunned down 13 years earlier by
rival gang members and where Valentin himself was shot before stumbling
across the street to his apartment complex.
A deep fly ball from there, the type of urban hipsters who have
earned Silver Lake its bonhomie-boho image obliviously sip caf con
leches at the Tropical Caf and discuss Tsar.s latest show at Spaceland.
The two scenes illuminate the stubborn contrast between Silver Lake.s
chic main drag and the neighborhood south of Sunset Boulevard. In the
streets abutting Vendome and Marathon, a spate of gang violence that
started on Labor Day weekend has been responsible for several drive-bys,
a car bombing, two deaths, and the rattled nerves of longtime residents
and more recent arrivals who hoped the checkered neighborhood had made
the transition from barrio to bourgeois.
Though gang activity has long been a part of the landscape in
Silver Lake, particularly south of Sunset, residents say the recent
violence, which has sent at least 40 gunshots echoing through the
neighborhood, is unprecedented. On August 29, the first six shots took
the life of Rangel. Another gang-related shooting . possibly tied to
Rangel.s murder . only a week later and just blocks away on Bellevue
left an Angelino Heights gang member injured and his friend, 28-year-old
Juan Monsivais, dead. More recently, members of La Mirada gang unloaded
a hail of bullets across a busy park at an SUV they believed to be
carrying enemy gang members.
The level of gang violence occurring in this area, while far from
the city.s worst, is happening at the same time property values have
gone up 33 percent this year alone and .bargain. homes are selling for
more than a half-million dollars just north of Sunset. The unexpected
rash of violence here illustrates a gangs-versus-gentrification drama
that.s likely to play out in other neighborhoods across the city as the
overheated housing market pushes prospective new homeowners deeper into
the fringes of long-held gang turf.
"I think that people thought the property values would
automatically help with a problem like gangs, and I guess that.s not
necessarily the case. They can still come into the neighborhood and do
what they want," said Linda Froiland, who moved here three years
ago from Minnesota and who is co-president of the Silver Lake
Police are unsure how or even if the recent violence is connected.
Locals, though, point to a heated graffiti-tagging war between rival
gangs in the area, one headed by Rangel, as the spark.
By all accounts, and judging from the audacious way he.d sign his
name to his tags, Rangel was the main provocateur in the graffiti battle
that at first presented locals with more of a nuisance than a threat
when it flared up six months ago. His signature tag, .SL13Val,. sprayed
on the cars, homes and businesses in streets around Vendome and Marathon
became a common sight in the neighborhood. It was often scrawled over
18th Street gang graffiti. A former gang member familiar with the area
says Rangel was asserting control of the area for .recruiting, to sell
drugs and claim the street."
The gang member, who asked not to be identified, believes that
four gangs are currently vying for the drug trade that has been going on
in the area since the 1970s, when the 18th Street gang ruled the
streets. At one time, a dealer could make $800 a night selling dope on
the corner of Vendome and Marathon with little threat of being arrested.
Recently, the Aztlan member, who dealt out of his apartment on Vendome.
The back-and-forth tagging showed clearly, though, that the main
beef was between Rangel.s Silver Lake 13 and the 18th Street gangs.
Residents and observers speculate that police efforts to clear gangs
from MacArthur Park . where 18th Street had a stranglehold on the Bonnie
Brae drug traffic and was known to tax street vendors . as well as a
successful court injunction that made it illegal for 18th Street gang
members to congregate near their former stronghold in the Pico-Union
area, pushed them west in search of new turf.
"It is the supply-and-demand thing," said Froiland.
"There had been an illegal business operating here for 20 years.
When we got rid of the people, it became open territory for other gangs
to come in and sell drugs there."
Rangel, apparently, didn.t put out the welcome mat.
"They [18th Street] don't belong in this area," said a
longtime friend of Rangel.s who asked to remain anonymous. .Those guys
want to take over everywhere. Before, they stuck to MacArthur Park. They
have a shitty-ass town where they live. They get anyone in and they kill
their own people. They want to corrupt this side of town. Nobody wants
to see someone come to their house and start their own business
.It is a matter of pride,. said Senior Lead Officer Al Polehonki
of the LAPD.s Northeast Division. .You aren.t going to let someone from
another gang spray in your area. If you are in a gang and another gang
comes by, it is like a challenge to you..
What started as a nuisance became more threatening when a Molotov
cocktail was thrown into a parked SUV just after midnight in July, weeks
before Rangel was gunned down. The firebomb smashed through the driver.s
window of the SUV, engulfing the vehicle in flames within seconds.
Residents, afraid the vehicle would explode, put out the fire long
before firemen arrived on the scene about a half-hour later.
Fears that animosities were heating up in the neighborhood were
confirmed on Friday, August 29, with the late-summer skies just faded to
black. The streets, where young children on scooters are a common sight,
were mostly bare at 8:55 p.m. except for Rangel, who was standing on the
northwest corner of Vendome and Marathon when a white Toyota minivan
pulled up alongside him. Two male Latinos jumped out of the car and
walked toward Rangel. They started to argue, and one of the suspects,
who was described as a male Latino between the ages of 18 and 25, took
out a handgun and shot Rangel, who staggered down the street, before he
fell less than a block from his home. The suspects then jumped back into
the van and sped off, colliding with two other parked cars before
leaving the scene. When Rampart patrol officers arrived, Rangel was
lying on the sidewalk, dead from six gunshot wounds to the head, chest
and leg. The minivan, found five blocks away, was reported stolen.
.That poor family has lost two sons,. said Froiland. .Both of whom
were in gangs..
Anti-gang officers say they became aware of Rangel after he was
arrested six months earlier for tagging anarchist symbols in the area
and for carrying a gun in his backpack. .He was more crazy than he was
active,. said Rampart anti-gang Officer Brandon Purece. .Ever since his
brother died, he kinda lost it.. At the time, the Silver Lake 13 barely
registered on the cops. radar. .They aren.t one of the most violent
gangs in the area,. said Rick Ramos, detective supervisor of Rampart.s
Gang Impact Team. .They have been involved in assaults and robberies.
But it is sporadic. It is not a consistent problem..
Sources say that Rangel took over the reins of the 20-plus-member
Silver Lake 13 gang as the shot caller or main head sometime last year
when a fellow gang member was arrested in the shooting death of a rival
gangbanger on South Redondo Boulevard. When the 18th Street gang started
showing up in the area, Rangel seemed to find an outlet for his angst.
.They started to ride around in the area,. says Rangel.s friend.
.He [Rangel] was crossing out the tags. Unfortunately, he had to go out
like that. Nobody deserves that..
Rangel.s friend describes someone whose death was tinged with
inevitability as he sank deeper into depression and violence after his
girlfriend and son moved out of their one-bedroom apartment on Vendome.
.Everything fell apart after his girlfriend split. He was more out of
control. He was doing weed, drugs, beer. The people he was hanging out
with, they were bad,. the friend said. .I didn.t want to hang out the
way he wanted to hang out..
What effect the neighborhood.s rapid gentrification had on Rangel,
who worked as a bicycle messenger and whose co-workers describe him as
outgoing and friendly, is open to speculation. But residents say
Rangel.s increasingly antisocial behavior, including allegedly
threatening a woman with a screwdriver, paralleled the steep rise in
local property values and the influx of new homeowners.
.He had so much anger in him,. said Sandra Ruiz, a 19-year
resident and newly elected neighborhood council member. Ruiz, a mother
of eight, says she keeps her kids inside most of the time, or walks them
to and from friends. and relatives. homes. .My daughter was approached
by a girl to get in a gang. I think it was Aztlan. I told her to say she
has a family that loves her."
A week after Rangel.s murder, three 18th Street gang members were
arrested for burglary in Silver Lake. Residents thought that might be
the end of the violence, but three weeks later, on September 23 at 6:15
p.m., a time when neighbors often walk their dogs in the famous Laurel
and Hardy park, two passengers jumped out of a silver pickup truck and
shot more than 15 bullets into a passing SUV as it drove past the park.
The two passengers in the targeted vehicle, one a soldier who had just
returned from Iraq and lived in the neighborhood, plowed into two parked
vehicles, narrowly escaping injury. The shooters fled the scene. That
same evening, the police arrested a member of La Mirada gang in
connection with the shooting. The other three remain at large. Residents
suspect the shooting is connected with the car bombing that had occurred
at the same spot.
The day after the Laurel and Hardy park shooting, the Silver Lake
Improvement Association held its monthly meeting at Councilman Eric
Garcetti.s field office. The main topic of discussion: the escalation of
the gang crime in the area. It was a relatively new topic for the
neighborhood group, which was formed to fight graffiti and promote
activities like the Sunset Junction Street Festival and the Silver Lake
Film Festival, not contend with drive-bys. Their conclusion: more
.Because we are so aggressive at painting out graffiti, a lot of
people didn.t realize the extent of what was going on. We do take the
situation seriously. It goes back to the broken-window attitude: If you
let the stuff fester, it is going to get worse,. said Rusty Millar, a
longtime resident and recently elected neighborhood council member for
region four, who is active in cleaning up local graffiti. .We have
talked to the cops about this. People know they can get drugs there. It
will only become a priority when someone politically thinks it is a
Cops say help is on the way and that in reality Rampart Division.s
killings are down from 150 10 years ago to 32 so far this year. Even so,
that might not translate into immediate relief for Millar, Ruiz and
others. LAPD.s Rampart Division is more organized today than in the days
when former Officer Rafael Perez shook down local gang members. Its
CRASH unit has been disbanded and renamed the Gang Impact Team, and its
officers, mostly new to the division, are divvied up into three units:
the special-enforcement unit, the gun-apprehension team and the
gang-reality-narcotic-enforcement detail. Plus, officers, they say, are
increasing patrols to tackle the 30 gangs that call the Rampart area
Even so, some say that, with all this reorganizing, gang
intelligence has been thin and has not translated into street-wise
policing, at least not here. Anti-gang officers say that it is very
difficult to get to the bottom of gang killings. Relatives and neighbors
fear reprisal if they talk, especially in an area like this one where
Chicano, Latino and Latin American immigrants, generally distrustful of
police, make up the largest ethnic group at 43 percent of the
Until the gang war is resolved, residents around Marathon and
Vendome fear that they will be at the wrong place at the wrong time when
bullets start flying. And that the violence that erupted over the Labor
Day weekend is far from being over. Rangel.s friend agrees. .It is going
to escalate,. he said.
Residents, though, especially relatively recent homeowners, say
they will continue to improve the area. .People are investing in this
area,. said Froiland. .People enjoy living here. They will do what they
can to continue to make it the place they would like it to be. They are
proud of what they have and what they have done..
The jobs that
lure Mexican workers to the United States are killing...
The jobs that lure Mexican workers to
the United States are killing them in a worsening epidemic that is now
claiming a victim a day, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Though Mexicans often take the most
hazardous jobs, they are more likely than others to be killed even when
doing similarly risky work.
The death rates are greatest in
several Southern and Western states, where a Mexican worker is four
times more likely to die than the average U.S.-born worker. Death rates
in the Midwest are lower. In Minnesota, six Mexican-born workers died
from 1996 through 2002, the latest year federal statistics are
These accidental deaths are almost
always preventable and often gruesome: Workers are impaled, shredded in
machinery, buried alive. Some are 15 years old.
For the first such study of Mexican
worker deaths in the United States, The AP talked with scores of
workers, employers and government officials and analyzed years of
federal safety and population statistics.
Among the findings:
- Mexican death rates are rising even
as the U.S. workplace grows safer overall. In the mid-1990s, Mexicans
were about 30 percent more likely to die than native-born workers; now
they are about 80 percent more likely.
- Deaths among Mexicans in the United
States increased faster than their population. As the number of Mexican
workers grew by about half, from 4 million to 6 million, the number of
deaths rose by about two-thirds, from 241 to 387. Deaths peaked at 420
- Though their odds of dying in the
Southeast and parts of the West are far greater than the U.S. average,
fatalities occur everywhere: Mexicans died cutting North Carolina
tobacco and Nebraska beef, felling trees in Colorado and welding a
balcony in Florida, trimming grass at a Las Vegas golf course and
falling from scaffolding in Georgia.
- Even compared to other immigrants,
what's happening to Mexicans is exceptional in scope and scale. Mexicans
are nearly twice as likely as the rest of the immigrant population to
die at work.
Why is all this happening?
Public safety officials and workers
themselves say the answer comes down to this: Mexicans are hired to work
cheap, the fewer questions the better.
They may be thrown into jobs without
training or safety equipment. Their objections may be silent if they
speak no English or are here illegally. And their work culture and Third
World safety expectations don't discourage risk-taking.
Federal and state safety agencies have
started to recognize the problem. But they have limited resources - only
a few Spanish-speaking investigators work in regions with hundreds of
thousands of recent arrivals - and often can't reach the most vulnerable
President Bush's recent proposal to
grant illegal immigrants temporary legal protections energized the
national immigration debate. Yet in these discussions, job safety has
been an afterthought. Meanwhile, Mexicans continue to die on the job.
Eighteen-year-old Carlos Huerta fell
to his death as he built federal low-income housing in North Carolina.
His bosses ignored basic work safety
rules, according to state inspectors, when they put him in a trash
container that wasn't secured to the raised prongs of a forklift. It
In 2002, the year Huerta was killed,
more Mexicans died in construction than any other industry - and more
died from fatal falls than any other accident.
A year ago in South Carolina, brothers
Rigouerto and Moses Xaca Sandoval died building a suburban high school
that, at 15 and 16, they might have attended. They were buried in a
trench when the walls of sandy soil collapsed.
The United States offered these three
teens wages 10 times higher than in Mexico. They offered their employers
cheap, pliant labor. For safety violations that led to these deaths, the
federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined
Accidents like these suggest that
employers assign Mexicans to the most glaringly perilous tasks, says
Susan Feldmann, who fields calls from Spanish-speaking workers for an
institute within the federal Centers for Disease Control.
disposable," she says.
But employers are not always at fault,
some safety officials say.
Though he was trained and wearing
required safety gear, Jesus Soto Carbajal severed his jugular vein with
a carving knife in a Nebraska meatpacking plant. The blade punctured his
chest just above the protective metal mesh.
Federal safety officials didn't fine
the employer, though they did recommend fundamental changes in the work
routine. A plant spokesman says that since the accident in 2000, workers
wear larger protective tunics.
Mexican worker deaths were also
concentrated in agriculture.
When Urbano Ramirez suffered a nose
bleed picking North Carolina tobacco, his supervisor prescribed shade
rest. Ramirez's body was found 10 days later. A medical examiner said he
died of unknown natural causes, the body too decomposed for a definitive
finding. His brother suspects heat stroke.
Like Ramirez, many deceased workers
came with little more than a grade-school education - and often left
behind large families.
Criminal charges are rare, fines more
typical. One exception is a California dairyman who faces involuntary
manslaughter charges after two of his workers drowned in liquid cow
Jose Alatorre was overcome by fumes
from the fetid stew as he tried to fix a pump at the bottom of a 30-foot
concrete shaft. His partner died trying to save him.
Both men were full-time workers but,
according to prosecutors, were given no safety training and no safety
equipment to deal with the predictably hazardous air.
The deaths received a burst of
attention in early 2001, but 18 months later in the same small town, a
third Mexican-born worker died in the same way at another dairy.
The AP's investigation focused on 1996
through 2002, the most recent set of worker death data from the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those were years when the economic boom
coaxed about 1 million Mexicans beyond the border states, according to
During those years, the analysis
showed, Mexicans were increasingly more likely to die on the job than
U.S. workers of any race.
The annual death rate for Mexicans
increased to the point that about 1 in 16,000 workers died. Meanwhile,
for the average U.S.-born worker, the rate steadily decreased to about 1
Mexicans now represent about 1 in 24
workers in the United States, but about 1 in 14 workplace deaths.
Workplace fatalities had distinct
CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS: These states,
where generations of Mexicans have developed strong support networks,
still rank atop the annual number of Mexican worker deaths - but their
numbers have steadied or fallen recently. Though low relative to other
states, the death rate for Mexican workers in California is still
greater than the average for U.S.-born workers.
SOUTH: In the bloc of states from
Louisiana to Maryland, the Mexican death rate averaged about 1 in 6,200
workers - four times that of native-born workers. Total deaths more than
tripled from 27 in 1996 to 94 in 2002 in the South (excluding Texas),
where some states saw Mexican populations triple to more than 100,000
WEST: Outside California, deaths in
Western states increased from 41 to 58, and death rates hovered above
the national average. Colorado and Washington stood out with
consistently high rates.
MIDWEST: The number of Mexicans killed
annually doubled between 1996 and 2002, from 19 to 38; death rates were
slightly above the national average for Mexicans. Federal estimates of
the Mexican-born population in Minnesota are too low to calculate
reliable death rates.
NORTHEAST: The region has the fewest
Mexicans, but death rates still far exceeded American worker averages.
Total annual deaths rose from eight to 17.
Construction was the deadliest
industry. Across the nation, about 1 in 3,100 Mexican construction
laborers died at work, a rate notably greater than native-born white and
black construction laborers, though in line with the rate for
Federal and state safety officials are
starting to grapple with the problem.
OSHA Director John Henshaw points to
Spanish-language materials the agency has put on its Web site, as well
as the agency's Hispanic Taskforce, which coordinates outreach.
The greatest frustration is that so
many deaths are avoidable.
"Ninety-five to 99 percent of the
time, there's going to be noncompliance with a standard that could have
prevented the fatality," says Joe Reina, the No. 2 OSHA official
for Texas and neighboring states and a leader of the Hispanic Taskforce.
Still, Reina holds workers partly
"They just don't know that they
have rights and responsibilities," Reina says, including the
ability to complain against employers.
Explaining those rights is one thing,
enforcing them another. Some of OSHA's own officials say their resources
are insufficient and note the agency's own policies generally provide
for punitive action only after an accident. It's unclear what President
Bush's guest worker program, if approved, would do for worker safety.
As OSHA works to improve safety,
language remains a barrier. By the agency's own count, there are no
Spanish-speaking inspectors or accident investigators in the half of
Georgia that includes immigrant-rich Atlanta. Some other Southern cities
do have Spanish-fluent enforcement officials.
In its eight-state Southeastern
region, OSHA has a single Spanish-speaking outreach worker. Marilyn
Velez encourages workers and employers to avoid unsafe practices.
It's not easy. Some wary workers see
Velez as a police officer; others, having survived abject poverty in
rural Mexico and dangerous border crossing, feel they don't need her.
"They are looking at you like,
'Are you crazy? I have done worse things,'" Velez says. "It's
just the way they see risk."
Sometimes the lessons do register. But
America's Mexican labor force is constantly in flux. Workers graduate to
safer jobs, or perhaps they move back home. Their replacements may be
the next victims.
Over 2000 people have died crossing the border -- most of exposure --
since Operation Gatekeeper started in 1994. (New
York Times. 6 August 2002.)
2003 DATA: From June 28 to July 1, 2003, eight migrants were found to
have died in southern Arizona after crossing the border from Mexico,
bringing to 63 the known death toll in the Border Patrol's deadly Tucson
sector since the federal government's fiscal year began last Oct.
Zita Islas Uribe, 29, of Hidalgo, Mexico, died of heat exposure on June
28 near Naco; an unidentified woman died the same day after falling from
a railroad bridge near Naco; two more migrants died near Gila Bend in a
June 29 pickup truck crash that left three others injured; and the body
of a man was found June 29 on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation. The
body of another unidentified man was found June 30 near the border, east
of the San Pedro River, in Cochise County; he appeared to have been dead
for about a week. On June 1, near Ajo, Border Patrol agents found a
Mexican man who apparently died from the heat. Another unidentified man
was found dead near Naco on June 1; he appeared to have been dead for
2-3 days. (Arizona Daily Star
(Tucson) 6/30/03, 7/2/03, 7/3/03)
On May 14, 19 immigrants from Mexico and Central America died of
suffocation in a tractor trailer left in the Texas desert. See MIM
Notes 285, Aug 2003 for the full story.
2002 DATA: It is estimated that about 1 Mexican dies every day trying to
cross the border. From October 2001 to October 2002 there have been 323
confirmed deaths. The environmental threats are being exacerbated by
both increased police control of the border and a reported rise in
vigilante groups that are suspected in at least 2 deaths in Arizona this
Post. 30 Oct 2002.)
In the first half of the year, 117 Mexicans died trying to cross the
border, down from 210 in the first half of last year and 283 in 2000.
This decrease follows increased border restrictions and a slower
economy. Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement that 50 migrants
from other parts of Latin America also died. Hundreds of thousands of
people try each year to cross the 1,987 mile border. (New
York Times. 5 July 2002.)
Despite a decrease in illegal immigration across the border of 29%,
deaths have increased in less inhabitable areas as increased
militarization forces migrants to cross at the most deadly/uninhabited
points. According to the NY Times, "June was the deadliest month
ever for the southwest border, with 67 migrants dying, mostly in the
unrelenting heat of the United States Border Patrol's Tucson sector, a
barely habitable land that covers most of southern Arizona." (New
York Times. 6 August 2002.)
1999-2000: From October 1999 to September 2000, 106 people died in
Arizona alone.(Associated Press, 24 May 2001.)
Meanwhile researchers at the university of Houston have established the
link between border policies and deaths in a detailed
Emerging Infectious Diseases - HOW BIRD FLU PASSES TO HUMANS
Vol. 4, No. 3, July/September 1998
The influenza virus continues to evolve, and new antigenic variants (drift strains) emerge
constantly, giving rise to yearly epidemics. In
addition, strains to which most humans have no immunity appear suddenly, and the resulting
pandemics vary from serious to catastrophic.
Influenza viruses are unique among respiratory tract viruses in that they undergo considerable
antigenic variation. Both surface antigens of the influenza A viruses undergo two types of variation:
drift and shift (1). Antigenic drift involves minor changes in the hemagglutinin (HA) and
neuraminidase (NA), whereas antigenic shift involves major changes in these molecules resulting from
replacement of the gene segment.
The Reservoirs of Influenza A Viruses
Aquatic birds are the reservoirs of all 15 subtypes of influenza A viruses. In wild ducks,
influenza viruses replicate preferentially in the
cells lining the intestinal tract, cause no disease signs, and are excreted in high concentrations in
the feces (up to 10 8.7 50% egg infectious doses/g) (2). Avian influenza viruses have been isolated
from freshly deposited fecal material and from unconcentrated lake water, which indicates that
waterfowl have a very efficient way to transmit viruses, i.e., by fecal material in the water supply.
Since a large number of susceptible young ducks are hatched each year throughout the world,
many birds are infected by virus shed into water. This would explain the high incidence of virus
infection in Canadian ducks, particularly juveniles, when up to 30% can shed virus before fall
migration. Transmission by feces also provides a way for wild ducks as they migrate through
an area to spread their viruses to other domestic and feral birds (3).
The avirulent nature of avian influenza infection in ducks and wading birds may result
from virus adaptation to this host over many
centuries, which created a reservoir that ensures perpetuation of the virus; therefore, ducks and
wading birds may be occupying an important position in the natural history of influenza
viruses. Influenza viruses of avian origin have been implicated in outbreaks of influenza in
mammals, such as seals (4), whales (5), and pigs (6), as well as in domestic poultry (7).
Evolutionary Pathways for Influenza Viruses
Studies on the ecology of influenza viruses have led to the hypothesis that all mammalian
influenza viruses derive from the avian influenza reservoir. Support for this theory comes from
phylogenetic analyses of nucleic acid sequences of influenza A viruses from a variety of hosts,
geographic regions, and virus subtypes. Analyses of the nucleoprotein (NP) gene show that avian
influenza viruses have evolved into five host-Influenza:
An Emerging Disease
Robert G. Webster
St. Jude Children's Research
Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Address for correspondence:
Robert G. Webster, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital,
332 North Lauderdale St.,
Memphis TN 38105-2794, USA;
fax: 901-523-2622; e-mail:
Because all known influenza A subtypes exist in the aquatic bird reservoir,
influenza is not an eradicable disease; prevention and control are the only realistic
goals. If people, pigs, and aquatic birds are the principal variables associated with
interspecies transfer of influenza virus and the emergence of new human pandemic
strains, influenza surveillance in these species is indicated. Live-bird markets housing
a wide variety of avian species together (chickens, ducks, geese, pigeon, turkeys,
pheasants, guinea fowl), occasionally with pigs, for sale directly to the public provide
outstanding conditions for genetic mixing and spreading of influenza viruses;
therefore, these birds should be monitored for influenza viruses. Moreover, if pigs are
the mixing vessel for influenza viruses, surveillance in this population may also provide
an early warning system for humans.
ancient equine, which has not been isolated in over 15 years; recent equine; gull;
swine; and human. The human and classic swine viruses have a genetic
'sister group' relationship, which shows that they evolved from a common
origin. The ancestor of the human and classic swine virus appears to have been an intact avian
virus that, like the influenza virus currently circulating in pigs in Europe, derived all its genes
from avian sources (8,9).
Studies on the NP and other gene lineages in avian species show separate sublineages of
influenza in Eurasia and the Americas, indicating that migratory birds moving between these
continents (latitudinal migration) have little or no role in the transmission of influenza, while birds
that migrate longitudinally appear to play a key role in the continuing process of virus evolution.
Phylogenetic analyses of amino acid changes show that avian influenza viruses, unlike
mammalian strains, have low evolutionary rates
(8). In fact, influenza viruses in aquatic birds appear to be in evolutionary stasis, with no
evidence of net evolution over the past 60 years.
Nucleotide changes have continued at a similar rate in avian and mammalian influenza viruses;
however, these changes no longer result in amino acid changes in the avian viruses, whereas all
eight mammalian influenza gene segments continue to accumulate changes in amino acids.
The high level of genetic conservation suggests that avian viruses are approaching or have
reached optimum, wherein nucleotide changes provide no selective advantage. It also means
that the source of genes for pandemic influenza viruses exists phenotypically unchanged in the
aquatic bird reservoir. The most important implication of phylogenetic studies is that the
ancestral viruses that caused the Spanish flu in 1918, as well as the viruses that provided gene
segments for the Asian/1957 and Hong Kong/1968 pandemics, are still circulating in wild
birds, with few or no mutational changes.
Emergence and Reemergence of 'New' Influenza A Virus in Humans
Over the past two and a half centuries, 10 to 20 human influenza pandemics have swept the globe;
the most devastating, the so-called Spanish flu of 1918 to 1919, caused more than 20 million deaths
and affected more than 200 million people. Both pandemics probably originated from aquatic birds.
Since the first human influenza virus was isolated in 1933, new subtypes of human type A
influenza viruses have occurred: H2N2 (Asian influenza) replaced H1N1 in 1957, Hong Kong
(H3N2) virus appeared in 1968, and H1N1 virus reappeared in 1977. Each of these new subtypes
first appeared in China, and anecdotal records suggest that previous epidemics also had their
origin in China. Serologic and virologic evidence suggests that since 1889 there have
been six instances of the introduction of a virus bearing an HA subtype that had been absent
from the human population for some time.
Three human subtypes of HA have appeared cyclically” H2 viruses in 1889, H3 in 1900, H1
in 1918, H2 again in 1957, H3 again in 1968, and H1 again in 1977. Phylogenetic evidence
indicates that a totally new H1N1 virus of avian origin (not a reassortant) could have
appeared in humans or swine before the 1918 influenza and replaced the previous human
virus strains. Whether the virus was first introduced into humans and then transmitted
to pigs, or vice versa, remains unknown. The reappearance of the H1N1 Russian 1977
influenza virus remains a mystery.
How Are Influenza Viruses Spread?
Avian influenza viruses in wild aquatic birds are spread by fecal-oral transmission through the
water supply (10); initial transmission of avian influenza viruses to mammals, including pigs and
horses, probably also occurs by fecal contamination of water. Scholtissek has postulated that the
use of fecal material from ducks for fish farming in Asia may contribute to transmission of avian
influenza viruses to pigs (11). Another direct method of transfer is by feeding pigs untreated
garbage or the carcasses of dead birds. Raising pigs under chicken houses and feeding them dead
avian carcasses has been observed on rare occasions in the United States; H5N2 influenza
virus was isolated from pigs living under chicken houses in Pennsylvania during the outbreak in
1982. Both pigs and poultry are commonly raised on the same commercial farms. From the
perspective of the control of interspecies transmission of influenza, this is undesirable, for
it may facilitate interspecies transmission of influenza viruses. After transmission to pigs,
horses, or humans, the method of spread of influenza is mainly respiratory.
Emergence of H5N2 Influenza Viruses in North America
In 1983 an H5N2 influenza virus infected chickens and turkeys in Pennsylvania and
became highly pathogenic for poultry. Virologic
and serologic studies provided no evidence of transmission to humans (12). The virus was
eventually eradicated by quarantine and extermination of more than 17 million birds at a direct
cost of more than US$60 million and an indirect cost to the industry of more than US$250 million.
More recently, a highly pathogenic H5N2 influenza virus emerged in domestic chickens in
Mexico (7). In October 1993, egg production decreased and deaths increased among Mexican
chickens in association with serologic evidence of an H5N2 influenza virus. H5N2 virus was
isolated in May 1994. By the end of 1994, the virus had mutated to contain a highly cleavable
HA, but remained only mildly pathogenic in chickens. Within months, however, it had become
lethal in poultry. Phylogenetic analysis of the HA of H5 avian influenza viruses, including the Mexican isolates, indicated that the epidemic virus had originated from the introduction of a
single virus of the North American lineage into Mexican chickens. This virus was
eradicated from chickens by quarantine and use of inactivated vaccine.
Live Bird Markets and the Epidemiology of Influenza
The chicken/Pennsylvania (H5N2) influenza outbreak in 1983 to 1984 demonstrated that live
bird markets play an important part in the spread of influenza viruses in avian species. In
1992, Senne et al. (13) described live bird markets as the missing link in the epidemiology of avian
influenza, for H5N2 viruses had been isolated from live birds until 1986. These H5N2 viruses caused
subclinical infection in chickens in the markets, as did H5N1 viruses in live bird markets in Hong Kong
in 1997. Moreover, ducks in the markets in the United States were infected with many
different subtypes of influenza A viruses, including H2N2 viruses related antigenically to the Asian/57
(H2N2) viruses that have disappeared from humans.
The live bird markets in the United States continue to harbor many influenza viruses. The ancestor of the H5N2 influenza virus that caused the epidemic in Mexico in 1993 to 1995 was isolated from market birds, and H7NX subtypes are still found in live bird markets. These viruses
are potentially pathogenic for chickens and are of Molecular changes associated with
emergence of a highly pathogenic H5N2 influenza virus in chickens in Mexico. In 1994, a nonpathogenic H5N2
influenza virus in Mexican chickens was related to an H5N2 virus isolated from shorebirds (ruddy
turnstones) in Delaware Bay, United States, in 1991. The 1994 H5N2 isolates from chickens replicated mainly
in the respiratory tract, spread rapidly among chickens, and were not highly pathogenic. Over the
next year the virus became highly pathogenic, and the hemagglutinin acquired an insert of two basic amino
acids (Arg-Lys), possibly by classic recombination and a mutation of Glu to Lys at position
3 from the cleavage site of HA1/HA2.
The emergence of H5N1 influenza in Hong Kong. It is postulated that a nonpathogenic H5N1
influenza spread from migrating shorebirds to ducks by fecal contamination of water. The virus was transmitted
to chickens and became established in live bird markets in Hong Kong. During transmission between different
species, the virus became highly pathogenic for chickens and occasionally was transmitted to humans from
chickens in the markets. Despite high pathogenicity for chickens (and humans), H5N1 were nonpathogenic for
ducks and geese. This was of great concern to chicken farmers in the northeastern United States.
The depopulation of live bird markets and farms in the New Territories of Hong Kong
(December 29, 1997) stopped the spread of H5N1 influenza viruses. An important lesson can be
learned from this action in Hong Kong. Live bird markets are potential breeding grounds
for both avian and mammalian influenza viruses. Serologic monitoring of the chickens in
Hong Kong markets for H5N1 influenza virus was an important first step in stopping the
spread of the viruses. An even more important step would be to reduce the opportunity for
interspecies transmission by marketing chickens separately from other avian species.
The Index Case of H5N1 in Humans in Hong Kong
On May 21, 1997, a 3-year-old boy from Hong Kong died in an intensive care unit in Hong Kong
on the fifth day of his hospitalization, with a final diagnosis of Reye syndrome, acute influenza
pneumonia, and respiratory distress syndrome (14). He had no indications of other underlying
disease, including immunodeficiency or cardiopulmonary disease. From a tracheal aspirate,
we isolated an influenza virus in MDCK cells but were unable to grow any pathogenic bacteria
from respiratory specimens. In hemagglutination inhibition assays, the virus did not react with
ferret antisera to recent isolates of human and swine subtypes.
Hemagglutination inhibition assays using antisera to 14 H subtypes showed that the isolate
was an H5 influenza A virus. Neuraminidase inhibition tests, using antisera to nine N
subtypes, indicated that the neuraminidase was of the N1 subtype. Nucleotide sequence analyses
of parts of the HA and NA genes of the virus allowed a phylogenetic comparison with other
influenza viruses. Our analyses confirmed that the virus was of the H5N1 subtypes. Each of the eight
RNA segments was of avian origin, and the virus was highly pathogenic for chickens. The
contribution of the influenza A H5N1 virus infection to the child's disease, eventually leading to death, was
complicated by the child's treatment with aspirin.
The virus identification is important because it is the first documented isolation of an influenza A
virus of this subtype from humans (15).
Characterization of the Human and Chicken H5N1 Viruses from Hong Kong
Avian influenza outbreaks occurred in Hong Kong from late March to early May of 1997. Three
chicken farms were separately affected; the death rate for the total of 6,800 chickens exceeded
70%. A comparison between the nucleotide sequences of the H5 genes from both the human
virus A/Hong Kong/156/97 (H5N1) (HK97) and a representative of the chicken viruses from the
March outbreak, A/chicken/Hong Kong/258/97 (CkHK97), showed a high degree of homology in
their respective H5 HA1 sequences. Only three amino-acid differences were observed in the HA1
of the HA, confirming the close phylogenetic relationship between these viruses, belonging to
the Eurasian lineage of the subtype H5 viruses.
Sequence analyses of the HA of multiple human and chicken H5N1 isolates show that they
form two subgroups with close linkage between chicken and human isolates. An analysis of the
amino acids expected to be involved in the assembly of the receptor binding site showed no
differences could be observed between the human isolate and avian H5 viruses. Therefore, the H5
HA of HK97 had probably not acquired mutations that favor binding to sialic acids with 2,6 linkage
to the galactoside over the 2,3 linked sialic acid
receptor preferred by human and avian viruses respectively. However, the loss of a potential N-
linked glycosylation site at amino acid 156 Asn, close to the receptor binding site, could affect
binding to the cellular receptor.
The amino acid sequence motif at the cleavage site of the HA molecule has been associated with
high virulence of avian influenza viruses. Experimental infection of chickens with HK97
showed that even after passaging in mammalian cells (once in the child and twice in MDCK cells), the
virus remained highly pathogenic for chickens: all eight chickens inoculated intratracheally with
MDCK-grown HK97 died within 3 days after infection. A comparison of the reactivity of a panel
of 17 monoclonal antibodies (MAb) directed against A/chicken/Pennsylvania/83 (H5N2) with HK97 and
CkHK97 in a hemagglutination inhibition assay
showed similar antigenic reactivities with all but one MAb, indicating antigenic cross-reactivity
between these viruses and the usefulness of these antibodies for diagnosis.
The fetuin-cleaving activity of the NA proved to be inhibited by anti-NA antiserum.
Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction using primer sets that amplified the 5' end of the NA
gene segments showed that this gene was of the N1 genotype. Nucleotide sequence analysis and
comparison to published NA sequences confirmed this finding genetically. The NA
sequences unequivocally showed a close molecular relationship between HK97 and CkHK97, as a
unique 57-nucleotide deletion was observed in the stalk region of the N1 gene of both viruses.
Each of the eight gene segments showed close genetic homology between the HK97 and Ck/
HK97 viruses, the lowest being 98.2% for the nucleoprotein; the remaining genes varied from
98.8% to 100% homology (16).
Can the Emergence of Pandemic Strains Be Prevented?
Because all known influenza A virus subtypes are found in aquatic wild birds in
nature, agricultural authorities have recommended avoiding direct or indirect contact
between domestic poultry and wild birds. A classic mistake made by chicken and turkey
farmers is to raise a few domestic ducks on a pond near poultry barns; these birds attract wild
ducks. The highly pathogenic outbreaks of H5N2 avian influenza in chickens and turkeys in
Pennsylvania and surrounding states in 1983 to 1984 (12) and the H5N2 in Mexico in 1993 (7)
could probably have been prevented if domestic poultry had been raised in ecologically
controlled houses with a high standard of security and limited access.
If we assume that people, pigs, and aquatic birds are the principal variables associated with
the emergence of new human pandemic stains, human pandemics of influenza may be
prevented. The principles applied to preventing outbreaks of influenza in domestic animals
should apply equally here. Pandemic strains of human influenza emerge only rarely; however,
interspecies transmission of influenza viruses may not be so rare, for up to 10% of persons with
occupational exposure to pigs develop antibodies to swine influenza virus (17). Most transfers of
influenza viruses from pigs to humans are dead-end transfers (they do not spread efficiently from
human to human). As indicated above, we do not know the frequency of virus transfer between the
suspect species in southern China. If there is an epicenter for pandemic influenza and a
detectable frequency of transfer between people, pigs, and ducks and if we understand the ecologic and
agricultural features involved in the transfer, pandemics may be preventable. If pigs are the
major mixing vessel for influenza viruses, changes in the agricultural practices that
separate pigs from people and ducks could prevent future pandemics. Most importantly, we
may influence the appearance of pandemics by changing the methods of live bird marketing by separating chickens from other species, especially from aquatic birds.
This work was supported by Public Health Service grants AI-29680 and AI-08831 from the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, by Cancer Center Support (CORE) grant CA-21765, and by the American Lebanese
Syrian Associated Charities.
Dr. Webster holds the Rose Marie Thomas Chair in the Department of Virology and Molecular Biology
at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, he is director of the World
Health Organization Collaborating Center for Ecology of Influenza Viruses in Lower Animals and Birds. He
has devoted his life to the understanding of the emergence of pandemic influenza viruses, the structure
and function of the viral proteins, and methods for developing new and improved antiviral drugs and
References: See: http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:8-BASckXYKsJ:www.ucbcidp.org/courses/
diseases are on the attack worldwide.
By IVONNE ROVIRA
For The Courier-Journal
The disease starts as a high fever, sometimes with headaches and body
aches. After two to seven days, victims develop a dry cough and have
trouble breathing. Most people get better — but 3.5 percent of the
people who come down with the malady die.
called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS for short). With 4,500
reported cases worldwide, it has a lot of people scared.
But calm down. There have been relatively few cases in the United
States. We have had much worse outbreaks of disease. And epidemics are a
problem that people have had to deal with throughout history.
An epidemic is an outbreak of a contagious disease that spreads rapidly
and widely. The 4,100 cases last year of West Nile virus, which is
spread by mosquitoes, were considered an epidemic.
“In four years, it had gone from one side of the United States to
another,” said Dr. Sue Billings, veterinarian and medical
epidemiologist with the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
Nobody knew about SARS until it broke out in an apartment complex in
Guangdong province in southern China last November. The respiratory
disease is thought to be a new form of the same kind of virus that
causes the common cold.
People are frightened. Some in Asia are wearing facemasks out of fear of
SARS, and authorities are urging people not to travel to China,
Singapore; Hanoi, Vietnam; or Toronto, Canada.
“If you lived in one of those countries, your risk would be much
greater,” Billings says.
Still, some Americans are panicking “because it’s on the news and
they hear about these cases on every newscast and they read it in the
paper or they hear it on the radio, but we are still at greater risk
from influenza,” Billings explained.
An average of about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from
influenza, also called the flu, and 114,000 per year have to be admitted
to the hospital as a result of the disease, according to the National
Centers for Disease Control.
Just because a disease makes the newspaper headlines doesn’t mean it
is especially dangerous. Other diseases that you seldom hear about may
be much more widespread. For example, it was big news last year when
Kentucky experienced five reported deaths and 75 cases of West Nile
virus. But at the same time, Kentucky had 400 cases of salmonella, a
West Nile virus “was considered an epidemic because that was the first
time we had it in Kentucky,” Billings said.
There have been other scares in recent history. The ebola virus, first
recognized in the Congo in 1976; dengue fever, which had nearly
disappeared, made a comeback in the 1970s; and hantavirus, discovered in
New Mexico in 1993 — all have sparked big scares in the United States.
“There are more people and we can travel from one part of the world to
the other side in a day,” says Billings. “We will have emerging
diseases…. We have to be aware of new problems.”
A PLAGUE ON YOUR HOUSE?
It may be tempting to use the term “plague” but doctors now
reserve that term for the scariest of all pandemics, the bubonic plague,
“Plague is an illness,” she says. “We don’t use the word plague
as a variety of different things (anymore).”
Whether a disease outbreak is an epidemic depends on how many more cases
than expected the medical community sees, Billings explained.
“Actually, a pandemic is an infection that involves more than one
continent usually…,” Billings said. She believes AIDS is the only
possible current pandemic. The previous pandemic was the 1918 flu
outbreak that killed between 20 million and 40 million.
People have reported epidemics for at least 3,000 years. Fortunately,
vaccinations can prevent traditional killers like smallpox and measles
and better hygiene has virtually wiped out malaria and cholera, two
other killer diseases.
... In that year, a devastating disease called
"smallpox" was introduced into Stó:lo
territory from Mexico through an extensive network of Aboriginal trade
Company in Hepatitis Case Violated Rules
Dec 5, 7:01 PM (ET)
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) - U.S. inspectors visiting green-onion producers
in northwestern Mexico found that one of the four companies linked to a
deadly U.S. hepatitis outbreak failed to meet hygiene standards, Mexican
officials said Friday.
Javier Trujillo, undersecretary for food safety and quality in Mexico's
Ministry of Agriculture, said Dos M Sales de Mexico, a company located
near the border city of Mexicali, in Baja California state, was washing
its scallions with water from a nearby reservoir, rather than with
purified drinking water, as required.
"The deficiencies where found at the company's packing operation
but that is not conclusive proof that this was the origin of the
hepatitis outbreak in the United States," Trujillo said.
The other three companies linked to the outbreak that killed three
people and sickened more than 600 in Pennsylvania are Agricola La
Laguna, a.k.a. Sun Fresh, of Ensenada; Tecnoagro International in San
Luis Rio Colorado and Ensenada, and Agro Industrias Vigor in Tijuana,
Ojos Negros and San Quintin,
The probe by three inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
one from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - accompanied
Mexican officials - started Monday, and will continue next week when
inspectors will visit scallion-exporting companies not linked to the
hepatitis A outbreak, Trujillo said.
But Trujillo said the FDA rushed to judgment by publicly identifying
suspected companies before completing an investigation that followed the
green-onions through the supply chain.
"The hypothesis that the outbreak could have originated in Mexico
but there is also the likelihood of contamination in the transportation,
at the restaurant," Trujillo said. "It's really surprising
that the FDA
would only emphasize the hypothesis of contamination at the point of
Ellen Morrison, director of the Office of Crisis Management for the FDA,
said the FDA has been very careful with the investigation and sent the
inspection team to Mexico only after not finding sources of
the different restaurants.
She said it's premature to speak of the inspectors' findings while the
investigation is in progress.
The hepatitis strains found in the rash of illnesses among customers at
Chi-Chi's restaurant at the Beaver Valley Mall northwest of Pittsburgh
very similar to those found in smaller outbreaks that occurred in
and Georgia in September. Those earlier outbreaks were traced to three
companies known to have supplied Mexican green onions in those states.
unclear whether they are the same companies currently being
About hepatitis C
Hepatitis C virus causes inflammation of the liver and degradation of
liver function. Hepatitis C infection is currently the most common
chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. Approximately 2.7
million people in the United States are chronically infected with the
hepatitis C virus, and it causes 10,000 to 12,000 deaths a year in the
United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC,
estimates the annual mortality rate in the United States could increase
to 38,000 by the year 2010, surpassing the number of deaths attributed
annually to HIV/AIDS. The hepatitis C virus is transmitted primarily
through significant or repeated exposures to infected blood. In the
United States, intravenous drug use and sexual contact with infected
persons account for the majority of new hepatitis C infections.
Approximately two thirds of new infections progress to chronic
infection. Chronic HCV infection may also progress to more serious
complications such as cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and death
The largest hepatitis A outbreak ever recorded in the United States
happened last year when at least 660 people who ate contaminated green
onions at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant in Pittsburgh got sick. Four people
have died from liver failure as a result (see news stories here
Hundreds of others got sick from contaminated green onions at other
restaurants in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The green onions
came from four Mexican farms, which have since been shut down (news
Hepatitis A is fairly common in the United States; about a third of
all Americans have been infected at some point. Contaminated food is a
major source of hepatitis A, which is largely associated with fecal-oral
transmission (see CDC fact
sheet). Household contact and oral-anal sex (rimming)
can also transmit hepatitis A.
Hepatitis A can cause jaundice, fatigue, nausea, fever, diarrhea,
loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Between 11% and 22% of adults who
get hepatitis A need to be hospitalized. Hepatitis A is very rarely
fatal -- less than 1% of all cases overall, but more likely in people
There's no specific treatment for hepatitis A, though sometimes immune
globulin (a batch of antibodies to hepatitis A) is given for recent
(<2 weeks) exposures, where it is at least 85% in preventing
hepatitis A. Alternately, some evidence supports the use of hepatitis A
vaccine (see below) following exposure, and vaccination is
sometimes used to control outbreaks (with or without immune globulin).
Various medications can be used to manage symptoms.
Everyone ultimately clears hepatitis A infection, typically after a
few weeks or, in some cases, several months. But during acute infection,
the virus becomes detectable in feces
and in blood before any symptoms or clinical signs of infection. This
period is when hepatitis A is transmissible. One study found that the
hepatitis A virus remains present at detectable levels in the blood for
an average of about three months (full
though periods exceeding a year have been reported (abstract).
Several outbreaks of clustered cases among networks of IDUs have been
documented, but it’s not clear how much of hepatitis A transmission
among IDUs occurs directly through needle and injection equipment
sharing. Using contaminated sources of water (for instance, from
toilets) to prepare drugs for injecting could also be a source of
infection. Other environmental factors could also increase transmission
through poor hygiene in shooting galleries, shelters and jails, crowded
Carroll M. Leevy
Professor & Scientific Director at the University of Medicine and
Dentistry of New Jersey
Statement on Hepatitis C
I am Dr. Carroll Leevy, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Director of the
Sammy David, Jr. Liver Institute. I am pleased to have the opportunity
to participate in this hearing to bring public attention to the serious
health threats posed by the hepatitis C virus and to consider the
response of Federal health agencies to the increased incidence of
hepatitis C infection.
Let me begin by applauding you, Chairman Shays, and the members of
this Subcommittee for holding this important hearing. As you know,
nearly four million Americans are infected with hepatitis C, and it is
expected that the death rate for the disease will triple over the next
twenty years. Nevertheless, the public remains largely unaware of the
virus or the illness and death that it causes. I hope and expect that
this hearing will bring focussed attention to the need for research,
prevention strategies, and efforts to educate and inform the general
public. I would also like to recognize Representative Towns for the role
that he has played in educating the public about hepatitis C and its
particular impact on minorities. As you may know, while the virus
infects 1.5% of non-Hispanic whites, over 3% of African Americans are
infected as are 2.1% of Mexican Americans. I had the pleasure of joining
Mr. Towns at a public meeting at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn last
fall, and I know how committed he is to identifying better methods for
preventing and treating hepatitis C across all segments of our society.
Further, Representative Towns joined Representatives Payne and Stokes in
contacting the Director of the National Institutes of Health about the
need for additional research on hepatitis C. I will focus the remainder
of my statement on these two essential tools in our effort to conquer
hepatitis C: the critical need for prevention initiatives, including
efforts to identify and treat hepatitis C particularly among
under-served populations; and, the imperative for expanded research on
THEORIES THAT AIDS IS A
GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY TO DESTROY UNDESIRABLE POPULATIONS MAY MAKE
POLITICAL SENSE, BUT ARE THEY SUPPORTED BY FACTS?
AIDS has an uncanny knack for attacking people the dominant society
considers "undesirables": gays, injection drug users (IDUs),
prisoners, and people of color. The commonly cited US statistic that
African Americans have twice the AIDS rate as white Americans
understates the problem because it is based on the total number of cases
since 1981. While white gay men constituted the large majority of cases
in the early days, by the early 1990s the rate of new cases
among Latinos was 2.5 times higher than among whites, and the black/
white ratio was even starker at 5-1 for men and 15-1 for women. By 1993,
AIDS had become the leading cause of death among African Americans
between the ages of 25 and 44. Internationally, the racial disparity is
even worse: About 80 percent of the world's 9 million AIDS deaths
through 1995 have occurred in Africa, where 2 million children have
already been orphaned.
The correlation between AIDS and social and economic oppression is
clear and powerful. What is more, the pattern meshes neatly with an
extensive history of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) and medical
experiments which have targeted people of color, Third World
populations, prisoners, and other unsuspecting individuals. In the first
North American example of CBW, early European settlers used smallpox
infected blankets as a weapon of genocide against Native Americans. A
few centuries later, the US Army conducted hundreds of tests that
released "harmless" bacteria, viruses, and other agents in
populated areas; one was to determine how a fungal agent thought mainly
to affect black people would spread. Washington also subsidized the pre
marketing tests of birth control pills before a safe dosage was
determined on Puerto Rican and Haitian women who were not warned of the
potentially severe side effects. Since the 1940s, the US has conducted
154 tests on 9,000 people, soldiers, mental patients, prisoners
many of whom had no idea of the risks involved. On another level, the
drug plague in the ghettos and barrios whether by intent or not has the
effect of chemical warfare against these communities.
Mexico is located between the United States of America and Central
America. The total area of the country is slightly less than three times
the size of Texas. According to the 1995 census, the total population is
91,158,290 million, of whom 37% are between the ages of 15 and 34 years.
Mexico has significant international migration, both from Central
America into Mexico and from Mexico into the United States. Although
estimations regarding the number of Mexican migrants to the USA are
often in dispute, current estimates place the number of Mexican illegal
workers in the USA at 2,700,000 or 54% of all illegal immigrants in the
During the last decades Mexico has experienced some of the most
severe economic crises ever suffered by a developing country (Per capita
GDP was 1,800 US in 1998 down from $3,500 US in 1994) and, although the
country is currently enjoying enough economic growth to allow the
Federal Government to have increased the health sector budget by around
30% for fiscal year 1997, investment in research is still quite minimal
(less than 1% of GDP of which about 30% is health-related research). The
number of investigators in the country is also critically low and
training opportunities for new investigators are limited. With only
33,296 active investigators -9 per every 10,000 members of the
economically active population- there is clearly a great need in Mexico
to enhance research efforts and train investigators.
The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Mexico
The first cases of AIDS in Mexico were diagnosed in 1983. From that
time through January 1st, 1998 a total of 33,632 cases of
AIDS cases have been reported to the Secretary of Health of Mexico.
These figures, however, are likely to be underreported. The AIDS
surveillance system in Mexico faces complex hurdles with serious
problems relating to a lack of diagnosis, delayed diagnoses, and a
changing case definition. It is possible that the number of cumulative
AIDS cases is actually closer to 53,000 with as many as 200,000 persons
infected with HIV. HIV infection is frequently diagnosed quite late in
the course of disease in Mexico. At Anonymous /Confidential AIDS Testing
Centers close to 60% of new HIV diagnoses are made when CD4+ T-cell
counts are <200 cells/ml with less than 20% of patients being
diagnosed with a CD4 cell count >500 cells/ml.
AIDS mortality is increasing among the general population in
Mexico with the most dramatic increase found among men who are between
the ages of 25 and 442. AIDS is now the fourth leading cause
of death nationally for men in this age group; in many states it is the
third leading cause of death. In 1996 a total of 4,373 AIDS related
deaths were reported in Mexico, a rate of 4.7 per 100,000. No
significant drop in AIDS mortality has been seen in Mexico as it has in
the United States and other developed countries. This is probably due to
the relatively limited availability and use of highly active
antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the general population of infected
Trends in HIV incidence and prevalence in Mexico
The history of HIV in Mexico is one of slow growth (1983 - 1986)
followed by an exponential increase (1987-1990), and then a gradual
leveling off in the hardest hit areas (1991 - present). Doubling periods
are now at 16 months in the Federal District of Mexico City (30.3% of
total cases), the state of Mexico, and the state of Jalisco. These three
districts cumulatively represent 55.3% of total Mexican cases. In other
states the duplication period is much shorter, about eight months. This
range clearly suggests that the AIDS epidemic in Mexico is not one
epidemic but a sum of multiple epidemics with very different growth
Trends in Transmission in Mexico
Sexual contact accounts for 89.9% of AIDS cases among men and 51.2% of
cases among women. Among men with AIDS, 65.7% of the total are ascribed
to men who have sex with men (MSM). This figure may be artificially low
as intensive follow up of heterosexual cases among men by staff of the
National AIDS Registry eventually reclassifies over 50% as attributable
to homosexual or bisexual men.
Intravenous Drug Use (IVDU)
The number of AIDS cases where IVDU is the reported risk factor for
transmission has remained low in Mexico. Through June 1996, there have
been only 378 (1.4%) cases of AIDS attributed to injection drug use.
After Jalisco (66 cases), the two states with the largest number of
cases among IVDU's both share a border with the United States: Baja
California (60) and Sonora (33). The fact that the proportion of total
cases attributable to IVDU (15.9% in Baja California, compared to 1.4%
nationally in Mexico) is similar to that found in the United States
suggests that Baja California, and possibly other border states, have
epidemics which are more similar to the United States epidemic than the
The proportion of transfusion-associated AIDS cases have markedly
decreased in Mexico over the last few years as testing of donors became
widespread. In 1989 transfusion-associated transmissions represented 17%
of all AIDS cases in Mexico, a figure which decreased to 3% of cases in
1997. In absolute numbers, this decrease has been most dramatic among
A total of 716 cases of pediatric AIDS cases have been reported since
the beginning of the epidemic. A shift has been observed in the
transmission risk factors for pediatric HIV with a decrease in the
number of transfusion-associated cases (43% in 1990 and 27.5% in 1995)
along with a parallel increase in perinatal cases (55% in 1990 and 60.5%
in 1995). The National Health Program for 1994-2000 mentions the
prevention of perinatal transmission of HIV, with a target of a 50%
decrease in cases of perinatally acquired HIV by the year 2000 as a
Data from over 40,000 name-linked sentinel surveillance studies done
by CONASIDA throughout Mexico since 1985 reveals seroprevalences from
0.02% (among pregnant women) to 15.6% (among men who have sex with men).
Comparisons of seroprevalence data for different risk groups over two
five-year permods (1985-1990 and 1991-1995) reveals that HIV incidence
in some groups has remained low (eg: female commercial sex workers where
seroprevalences range from 0.04% to 2.6%) or even decreased (eg: blood
donors where seroprevalence is now 0.01-0.04%) while it has increased in
others (eg: injectible drug users where limited data from two studies
done in Baja California in 1990 and 1995 documented an increase from
1.92% to 9%).
In conclusion, HIV/AIDS is an important health problem in Mexico.
The impact of HIV stems both from the total number of infections (5 per
10,000 population) and the fact that it primarily affects those in the
most economically productive age group. Mexico has made tremendous
strides in controlling the transmission of HIV though blood and blood
products but has been far less effective in lowering rates of sexual
transmission. New trends in the epidemic that are of particular concern
are the increasing number of infections among intravenous drug users and
those in rural communities among migrants or sex partners of migrants.
Instituto Nacional de
(National Institute of Public Health in Mexico)
Tropical Diseases to
Avoid Like the Plague
The of the many hazards of
travel to Central American countries like Mexico is the possibility of
exposure to one or more of the many tropical diseases endemic to this
region. Most U.S. citizens have had little contact with these diseases
so that they are more vulnerable to an unfortunate exposure than natives
Fortunately, by taking some sensible
precautions the Mexico traveler should be able to enjoy this country
without having to bed down for days on end, seeking out medical care or
having to suffer with the consequences for many months after the trip
The most frequently reported illness by
travelers to Mexico is more formally called traveler's diarrhea. Some
may remember the international gravity of Jimmy Carter's faux pas, and
it truly it was a slight to the sensibilities of the Mexican people,
when he called it by the colloquialism, "Montezuma's revenge."
Traveler's diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites
which are found at large throughout the region. Transmission occurs most
often through contaminated food or water. Infections can cause anything
from minor discomfort to severe cases of diarrhea and vomiting. Be
warned, however: it can also result in liver damage or muscle paralysis!
To avoid traveler's diarrhea, eat only
thoroughly cooked foods and peel your own fruit. Drink only boiled
water, bottled carbonated water or bottled carbonated soft drinks...
although one may also indulge in margaritas, of course (but watch the
ice for creepy crawlies...and you don't usually see them!).
Dengue Fever is transmitted by mosquito bites
and is usually a danger in areas of human habitation, like cities. The
mosquitoes are usually most active at dusk and at dawn, but may bite at
any time during the day. The illness results in flu-like symptoms with a
sudden onset, rash, severe headache, high fever, and joint and muscle
pain. The rash will appear three or four days after the onset of the
fever, which is the first symptom. (One might assume that this is not
quite what you had in mind when you embarked on your journey.)
Fortunately, the risk of exposure for the traveler is quite small,
except during periods of epidemic.
Of course, there are other mosquito-linked
diseases in Mexico as well. Malaria is caused by the bite of the
mosquito...although these particular bugs usually fly and bite at night,
from dusk until dawn. They are found in rural areas primarily,
especially in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Colima, Nayarit,
Guerrero, Campeche, Sinaloa, Michoacan and Quintana Roo. (It is
recommended that you take chloroquine for one week prior to entering a
malarial area, once a week while there and four weeks after leaving.)
Yellow fever is also caused by the mosquito, but cases are rare in
Mexico. And try to avoid flea bites: they carry the plague! (But this is
rare as well.)
To decrease the probability of exposure to
insect bites, the traveler should wear clothing which covers most of the
body, use a mosquito net and stay in well screened areas. Use an insect
repellent on any exposed areas of your skin. The most effective
repellent is DEET, which is found in most insect repellents, but it is
important to avoid using the higher concentration (above 35%) products
directly on the skin. Also avoid putting it on your hands if they can
come into contact with the mouth and eyes. It is also helpful to buy a
spray for flying insects to use in sleeping areas in the evening. While
one might object highly to using all these toxins, just remember that it
is not something that you will be doing for a prolonged period of
time...and it is much less damaging than the alternative.
An epidemic of cholera has recently swept
through Central America, including Mexico, although the risk to
travelers is usually quite low. This disease is caused by a bacterium
and results in an acute intestinal infection. The symptoms include
massive watery diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and muscle cramps. There
is a vaccine available, although it is only 50% effective in reducing
the symptoms of the illness. One would want to follow the
recommendations previously described for traveler's diarrhea with
reference to food and water.
Despite the dangers, and they are a reality,
taking a sensible approach during your journey should greatly reduce, if
not eliminate, any dangers these tropical diseases may pose. Travel
wisely and enjoy! R.S.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the
following precautions for traveling to Mexico and other areas of Central
1.) If malaria may be a problem, take
chloroquine or mefloquine.
2.) Take the precautions described on this page
for preventing insect bites.
3.) Pay attention to the dangers associated
with drinking water and food and take appropriate measures to avoid
4.) Take a dose of immune serum globulin
(formerly called gamma globulin) to protect against hepatitis A.
5.) Consider having a booster dose of tetanus.
6.) Depending on where you may be traveling and
what activities you may engage in, consider a vaccine for hepatitis B,
yellow fever, typhoid, pre-exposure rabies, and cholera.
7.) Make sure your normal "childhood"
vaccines are up to date: measles, mumps, rubella, diptheria, and
pertussis (DTP vaccine).
Migrant's bid to reach husband ends in desert death
Deaths, apprehensions along the N.M.
Jun. 28, 2004
COLUMBUS, N.M. - He had been holding her head in his hand for
several minutes now, watching as the woman struggled to breathe, like
a fish gasping for air on the parched desert floor, a dark-colored
fluid oozing from her mouth.
His hand was pressed up against her hot, dry neck, waiting for the
next shallow beat of her ever-weakening heart.
Help was coming. But as he knelt beside her, the Border Patrol agent
worried that he was watching life quickly slip from the 32-year-old
mother from Veracruz, Mexico.
Soon the ambulance was crossing the old farm field on the outskirts of
this border town. But as it pulled up, just feet away, the agent
suddenly noticed the slight beat under his fingers had disappeared and
the breath, which just moments ago struggled to pass across the
woman's lips, was gone.
She was pronounced dead an hour later at a hospital 30 miles away.
Her name was Eunice Avila Hernandez - headed north toward Colorado,
she had said, in hopes of reuniting with her husband.
Her death May 14 marked the first documented migrant death of the year
in New Mexico - the beginning of a deadly season during which those
seeking illegal passage north from Mexico set out, often unprepared,
into the scorching Southwest desert.
This month, three more deaths have been recorded - more heat-related
migrant deaths in New Mexico than in all of 2002 or 2003. In each of
those years, there were two
The latest came Monday when Border Patrol officials said
20-year-old Isidoro Badillo Barrientos collapsed and died after more
than a day of walking in the desert northwest of here with a group of
fellow immigrants from near Mexico City.
Last week, authorities found a decomposed body they believe is that of
a Mexican woman in her 20s. On June 4, Victor Hugo de Jesus Montalvo,
17, of Puebla, Mexico, died as he and two brothers traveled with a
The deaths have New Mexico authorities troubled about the prospect of
more hot months ahead - a concern compounded by the fact that the
number of illegal immigrants apprehended along this stretch of the
U.S.-Mexico border continues to climb. The Deming and Lordsburg Border
Patrol stations, which are responsible for most of New Mexico's
border, have seen a combined 35 percent increase in apprehensions this
year compared to last.
"Unfortunately, we're going to see more of this," said
Border Patrol agent Michael Holt, who cradled Hernandez as she
struggled to hang onto life.
New Mexico is still a far cry from the problems in neighboring
Arizona, where 81 exposure-related migrant deaths were recorded last
year in the Border Patrol's Tucson sector alone.
Even so, Socorro Cordova, of the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, warns
that New Mexico's vast, rugged desert is especially treacherous given
its size and lack of development.
"This desert in particular is tremendous," Cordova said in
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner last
month launched a campaign to bulk up border safety, which includes
public service announcements warning migrants about the risks of
crossing. Cordova said the Mexican government has done the same,
launching its own series of radio spots this month.
Deming Border Patrol officials are working with their Mexican
counterparts to address the recent deaths in New Mexico. Last month,
the station also unveiled a 1992 Ford Excursion, equipped with
oversized tires, a back board and first-aid equipment, designed to get
into remote areas to recover migrants so they can be brought to an
ambulance waiting in a more accessible area. It adds to the equipment
agents already use to conduct daily rescues.
Even so, immigrant rights advocates say it's not enough and point
to a deeper problem.
"Yes, it's important that they have that kind of equipment,"
said Marcela Diaz, director of the Santa Fe-based Somos Un Pueblo
Unido. "... We also need to step back and ask, 'Why are they
using these routes as opposed to other routes, and what kind of
policies can we implement to address the problem rather than hoping
that we can get to them before they die?' "
On May 14, the mother from Veracruz began her journey in Palomas, a
Mexican town butting up against the border south of here - a hub for
illegal immigrants and the smugglers looking to move them north.
A criminal compliant filed in U.S. District Court details the group's
journey on that warm May evening. According to accounts from various
immigrants mentioned in the complaint:
The journey began with a smuggler named Yolanda at a Palomas hotel.
Prices varied depending on a person's destination - $1,300 for one man
headed to Albuquerque, $1,500 each for a man his nephew headed to Las
Vegas. They said they were driven by pickup truck east from Palomas
along the border and dropped off.
Two brothers, 27-year-old Humberto and 26-year-old Baldomero Chavira
Ordonez, allegedly told the group before they all scampered across the
fence into the United States to say they were all traveling together
if nabbed by Border Patrol.
It had only been an hour or so of walking when Hernandez started to
have trouble and couldn't keep up.
Back at the Border Patrol trailer in Columbus, Holt was finishing up
some work when a call came from a rancher reporting a man trying to
get help for a woman dying in the desert.
Holt knew the area and hopped into his patrol unit. Within minutes, he
pulled up to a man waving him down who said his name was Baldomero
Chavira Ordonez. The two set out to find Hernandez.
"En este camino?" This road? the agent remembered asking.
"Yes .... stop, stop! I think she's out there," he said
Chavira told him in Spanish, guiding him to the barren farm field.
Ordonez would later say he tried to get help for Hernandez at a nearby
house but no one was home.
The woman, alone in the field and awkwardly lying on her side, was
resting her head on a water bottle. It looked like she had vomited, a
mix of what appeared to be saliva and blood coming from her mouth.
Holt approached: "Estas bien? Estas OK?" Are you all right?
Are you OK?" he remembers asking while shaking the woman.
Soon he was flanked by a fellow agent, Ruben Gonzalez, and Columbus
Police Chief Clare May.
"Agent Holt is doing about everything he can," May
remembered. "He was holding her, had turned her on her side. Her
eyes were already rolled, and I've seen heat stroke full blown and, at
that point, there's not much you can do."
Guided by paramedics on May's cell phone, the men tried everything to
keep her cool, taking off a black sweater wrapped around her waist,
dousing her chest with warm water from a water bottle that had been
sitting in May's patrol car all day.
She was motionless.
"Everybody is doing everything they could," May said.
Then the men caught sight of the ambulance.
"Literally, she's breathing on her own. Her breathing is
slow," May said. "I'm guiding the ambulance to follow my
tracks. And, as the ambulance turns from (the county road just yards
away) and heads across the field, she takes her last breath that I
Paramedics put a manual respirator to her mouth. May said he did
several chest compressions - but he didn't feel a response. The chief
said he knew then it was over.
For Holt, a 31-year-old native Hawaiian with a linebacker's build
and a soft-spoken nature, it was a moment he has yet to forget.
"Right when they came, they put her on the gurney and it was kind
of like a rush of humanity," he said in a halting voice, his
hands in front of him showing how he had been cradling the woman.
"And I just kind of stayed there, kneeling down."
Despite paramedics' efforts, Hernandez died en route to a Deming
Holt felt a swell of what "was almost like anger" about the
woman left alone in the field and set out to track the rest of the
group. With help from a Border Patrol helicopter, agents found the 13
others about three-quarters of a mile away. May said among them were
two children under the age of 8 and three youngsters who appeared to
be between the ages of 11 and 14.
The Ordonez brothers, of Chihuahua, Mexico, were indicted June 3 on
charges of transporting illegal immigrants, conspiracy and aiding and
abetting, according to the U.S. District Court clerk's office. They
have pleaded not guilty.
Paramedics later told May that among the items found tucked away in
a hidden pouch on Hernandez was a photo of her holding a baby.
For Holt, who has spent more than three years patrolling the southern
New Mexico landscape for people like Eunice Avila Hernandez, the
woman's death delivered a powerful message.
Driving home that night, it hit him.
"I think it was more of a realization of what happened....
Something big had happened. Something not just trivial," he said,
his voice trailing off. "It's hard to put into words."
"When something like this happens, you go home and hug your kids.
You're just happy that you're going home, and you're grateful for the
time you have."
'Minutemen' plan to patrol Arizona border
Volunteers want to stop illegal immigrants entering U.S.
Monday, February 21, 2005
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C.
Bonner is keeping a close eye on Minutemen plans
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Intent on securing the
vulnerable Arizona border from illegal immigrant crossings, U.S.
officials are bracing for what they call a potential new threat this
spring: the Minutemen.
Nearly 500 volunteers have already joined the Minuteman Project,
anointing themselves civilian border patrol agents. They plan to patrol
a 40-mile stretch of the southeast Arizona border throughout April when
the tide of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border peaks.
"I felt the only way to get something done was to do it
yourself," said Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant and decorated
Vietnam War veteran who is helping recruit Minutemen across the country.
"We've been repeatedly accused of being people who are taking
the law into our own hands," said Gilchrist, 56, of Aliso Viejo,
California "That is an outright bogus statement. We are going down
there to assist law enforcement."
Officials concede the 370-mile Arizona border is the most porous
stretch on the U.S.-Mexico line. Moreover, recent intelligence indicates
that al Qaeda terrorists are likely to enter the country through the
Mexican border, James Loy, the deputy secretary of the Homeland Security
Department, said last week.
"Several al Qaeda leaders believe operatives can pay their
way into the country through Mexico, and also believe illegal entry is
more advantageous than legal entry for operational security
reasons," Loy said in written testimony to the Senate Intelligence
Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants caught by the U.S. Border
Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed into the country at the Arizona
border. The agency increased the number of agents in the Tucson sector,
which has its largest staff, from 1,700 to 2,100 over the last 18
But that number is going to grow to try to plug the remaining
holes, said Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.
About 10,000 federal agents now patrol the 2,000-mile southern border,
Officials fear the Minuteman patrols could cause more trouble than
they prevent. At least some of the volunteers plan to arm themselves
during the 24-hour desert patrols. Many are untrained and have little or
no experience in confronting illegal border crossings.
"Any time there are firearms and you're out in the middle of
no-man's land in difficult terrain, it's a dangerous setting," said
Bonner, whose agency is keeping a close eye on the Minutemen plans.
"The Border Patrol does this every day, and they are
qualified and very well-trained to handle the situation," he said.
"Ordinary Americans are not. So there's a danger that not just
illegal migrants might get hurt, but that American citizens might get
hurt in this situation."
Civilian patrols are nothing new along the southern border, where
crossing the international line is sometimes as easy as stepping over a
few rusty strands of barbed wire. But they usually are limited to small,
informal groups, leaving organizers to believe the Minuteman Project is
the largest of its kind on the southern border.
It may also prove to be a magnet for what Glenn Spencer, president
of the private American Border Patrol, described as camouflage-wearing,
weapons-toting hard-liners who might get a little carried away with
"How are they going to keep the nut cases out of there? They
can't control that," said Spencer, whose 40-volunteer group, based
in Hereford, Arizona, has used unmanned aerial vehicles and other
high-tech equipment to track and report the number of border crossings
for more than two years.
"There's a storm gathering here on the border, and there are
conditions ripe for some difficulty," he said.
The border agents agree.
The Minutemen "clearly have every reason to be upset with the
federal government for abandoning them," said National Border
Patrol Council president T.J. Bonner, no relation to the commissioner.
But "if anything goes wrong, God forbid, someone does injure
an agent, this government is going to be turning both barrels on them
and come after them with a vengeance," he said.
Gilchrist said the Minutemen are under strict orders to merely
identify and follow illegal border crossers and alert federal agents.
They should not interact with the immigrants except to offer food, water
or medical care. If there's a couple of "bad apples" who turn
up in the group, Gilchrist said, they will face prosecution if they step
outside the law.
Something dramatic needed to be done to curb the years of crime,
property damage and trash dumping caused by the border crossings,
"Things are out of control" he said. "And they've
been out of control for decades."
Copyright 2005 The Associated
Posted: August 29, 2005
© 2005 Creators Syndicate Inc.
On Aug. 12, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson declared a state of
emergency "due to a chaotic situation involving illegal alien
smuggling and illegal drug shipments" on his southern border. Three
days later, Gov. Janet Napolitano followed suit in Arizona.
Reason: the crisis on the border. The ally-ally-in-free immigration
policy of George Bush and Vicente Fox, beloved of corporate America, has
created a hell on our southern border.
Those Southwestern states are being inundated by illegal aliens
trashing ranches, killing cattle, committing crimes and eating up tax
dollars. The traffic in narcotics and human beings from Mexico is a
national scandal and a human-rights disgrace.
What is true of New Mexico and Arizona is true of our nation, which
is now home to an estimated 10 million to 15 million aliens who have
broken our laws and broken into our country. It is a mark of the
cowardice of our leaders that they are so terrified of being called
"bigots" they tolerate this criminality. The moral rot of
political correctness runs deep today in both national parties.
A president like Teddy Roosevelt would have led the Army to the
border years ago. And if Fox did not cooperate, T.R. would have gone on
to Mexico City. Nor would Ike, who deported all illegal aliens in 1953,
have stood still for this being done to the country he had defended in
What are these Bush Republicans afraid of? Dirty looks from the help
at the country club?
The question of whether America is going to remain one nation, or
whether our Southwest will wind up as a giant Kosovo – separated by
language and loyalty from the rest of America – is on the table.
Where is Bush? All wrapped up in the issue of whether women in Najaf
will have the same rights in divorce and custody cases as women in
Nebraska. His legislative agenda for the fall includes a blanket amnesty
for illegals, so they can be exploited by businesses who want to hold
wages down as they dump the social costs for their employees – health
care, schools, courts, cops, prisons – onto taxpayers.
Not only have Richardson and Napolitano awakened – they are on the
front lines – so, too, has Hillary Clinton, who has spoken out against
illegal immigration with a forthrightness that makes Bush sound like a
talking head for La Raza.
Why is a Republican Congress permitting this president to persist in
the dereliction of his sworn duty?
George Bush is chief executive of the United States. It is his duty
to enforce the laws. Can anyone fairly say he is enforcing the
immigration laws? Those laws are clear. People who break in are to be
sent back. Yet, more than 10 million have broken in with impunity.
Another million attempt to break in every year. Half a million succeed.
Border security is homeland security. How, then, can the Department of
Homeland Security say America is secure?
Who can guarantee that, of the untold millions of illegals here, and
the scores of thousands ordered deported for crimes who have disappeared
into our midst, none is a terrorist waiting for orders to blow up a
subway or mall and massacre American citizens?
Most of these illegals come to work to send money back to their
families. They are not bad people. But because they are predominantly
young and male, they commit a disproportionate share of violent crimes.
Why should U.S. citizens be assaulted, robbed, raped and murdered,
and have their children molested, because their government will not
enforce its own laws?
Is this not an indictment of democracy itself? What dictatorial
regime would put up with this?
The Republican Party claims to be a conservative party. But what kind
of conservative is it who, to cut a few costs or make a few bucks, will
turn his family's home into a neighborhood flop house?
In a recent poll, 40 percent of Mexicans – 40 million people –
said they would like to come to the United States, and 20 percent
expressed a willingness to break in. Time to cut the babble about how
NAFTA is going to solve the problem. This is a national emergency.
Twice, George Bush has taken an oath to "preserve, protect and
defend the Constitution of the United States." Article IV, Section
4 of that Constitution reads, "The United States shall guarantee to
every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall
protect each of them against invasion."
Well, we are being invaded, and the president of the United States is
not doing his duty to protect the states against that invasion. Some
courageous Republican, to get the attention of this White House, should
drop into the hopper a bill of impeachment, charging George W. Bush with
a conscious refusal to uphold his oath and defend the states of the
Union against "invasion."
It may be the only way left to get his attention, before the border
vanishes and our beloved country dissolves into MexAmerica, what T.R.
called a "polyglot boarding house for the world."
Related offers on illegal immigration:
aliens invading U.S.: Book puts you on the border
'America's Palestinians': Video exposes radical movement in Mexico to
retake southwestern U.S.
– Autographed copies now available! Michelle Malkin reveals feds still
welcoming terrorists, criminals to America
Pat Buchanan's newest book, "Where
the Right Went Wrong," reveals why America is being led to
disaster ... and how to save our country.
of the West" warns of cataclysmic shifts in world power.
If you'd rather order by phone, call WND's toll-free customer service
line at 1-800-4WND-COM (1-800-496-3266).
Pat Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential
nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a
founder and editor of The American
Conservative. Now a political analyst for MSNBC and a syndicated
columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding
panelist of three national TV shows, and is the author of seven books.
OTHER PAGES ABOUT
MEXICO OR MEXICANS ON THIS SITE
- WHITEHORSE CROP CIRCLE
... the New Jerusalem Plan which Joe wrote
about here: http://www.greatdreams.com/plpath6.htm. ...
symbol in Figure 3 is the same as the Mexican symbol from
number 26, The Mayan Tzolkin, and the Grid Crop Circle
... (complete article on Joe Mason's Crop
Circle Analysis Page at: http://www.greatdreams.com/crpcirc.htm}.
The Mexican UFO wave, says Geoff Stray, started on the ...
MEXICO - EARTHQUAKE - 1-22-2003
COLIMA, MEXICO. EARTHQUAKE. DEATH TOLL RISES TO
29. QUAKES MOVING NORTH??? 1-22-2003. ... 22Jan2003
19:41:51.6 21.1N 103.2W 0 mb=5.7 M*MAD JALISCO, MEXICO 2116. ...
SALAZAR - MEXICO - THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM GOES ON
... Many Christians in Mexico are denied
full religious liberty, according to the secretary
general of the Latin American Bishops' Council, Bishop Carlos Aguilar ...
... The quetzal bird, native to the western
area of Guatemala and Mexico, was regarded
as the most beautiful bird and called Quetzaltotolin, meaning
"most precious ...
the Cat and Speedy Gonzales - May 5, 2003
... brother of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria
and a member of the Hapsburg dynasty,
was crowned Emperor of Mexico. ... http://www.greatdreams.com/eleven/num11.htm.
ATTRACTOR CROP FORMATION AND THE END OF TIME
... The Mexican UFO wave, says Geoff,
started on the day of the solar eclipse in July
1991, complete with "corn-on-the-cob ... http://www.greatdreams.com/trinity.htm.
MARS/MOON/ANCIENT SITES CONNECTIONS
... Joe Mason's Crop Circle Analysis Page at:
http://www.greatdreams.com/crpcirc.htm ... The
ape is the calendar symbol in ancient Mexican cultures, lending
its name ...
CODE OF CARL MUNCK, AND ANCIENT GEMATRIAN NUMBERS - PART SIX
... happens when we curiously ask if the
azimuth of The Avenue Of The Dead (Mexican
pyramid complex ... The URL of this page is: http://www.greatdreams.com/gem6.htm.
... Timestar Earth : Crop circles and their
link to the Mayan calendar plus the 1991
Mexican UFO wave; accurate earth change predictions claimed -
however, they ...
Pleiades and the Seventh Ray on the Seventh Day
... I asked if they were Mexican or
Native American. They said, "Native American." ...
URL of this page is: http://www.greatdreams.com/sisters.htm.
OPENING EYES - THE APERTURE - CROP CIRCLES OF JULY, 2000
... They had light hair and skin, but then
transformed into dark hair and dark skin.
I asked if they were Mexican or Native American. They said,
"Native American." ...
LITTLE ICE AGE - THE BROKEN TREE OF LIFE
... Someone scratched off a bit of ice and
there was a date revealed 01-02-2022.
I continued to do the laundry. I was working with the Mexican
HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS
... MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Hilary, the sixth
hurricane of the season, made its debut Sunday
off the Pacific coast of the southwestern Mexican state of Baja
of Native American Tribes
... Canadian Indian, 3,209, 0.2. Central
American Indian, 1,668, 0.1. Mexican American
Indian, 9,974, 0.5. South American Indian, 3,133, 0.2. Spanish
American Indian, 3,435,
DREAMS AND VISIONS - JUNE AND JULY, 1988
... We were going to church and I was pulled
along behind the good car. A police
car passed me and arrested some Mexican man who were speeding. ...
AND VISIONS OF ATTICS
... The Mexican room with its hand-made
pottery almost glowed from the yellow,
orange, and green pots and vases on its numerous shelves. ...
Apache Medicine Dance - 1898
... This quieted her somewhat as she sat
upright but staring just like a drunk.
Sotli then handed her the medicine pipe filled with 'Mexican'
DREAMS AND VISIONS - SEPTEMBER, 1993
... He was Indianish looking, more so than
usual (he was half Indian-half Mexican) His
hair was long and pulled into a man's type pony tail hanging down his
... BEACH, NORTH DAKOTA. JIM DEARDORFF
SIGHTINGS. MEXICO MOVIE CLIPS. MEXICAN QUICKTIME
MOVIE. SIGHTINGS AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS. SIGHTINGS BY STATE - GREAT
Fiestas and Holidays Celebrated
DREAMS OF THE GREAT
EARTHCHANGES - MAIN INDEX