Luis and the Cursed ‘American Dream’

Luis was the second of his seven siblings and was charged with taking responsibility for his siblings and parents, which is why he did not hesitate when the opportunity arose to get ahead in the United States.

The network of “coyotes” knocked on his parents’ door: “Doña Maria, we offer to take Luis so that he can meet up with his brother in Chicago. And since this is the second child of yours we are taking, we can give you a good price: For $10,000, we will take Luis and take good care of him.” As if he was talking about a time machine toward prosperity, Luis’s parents decided without any doubt that it was time to send him so he would have better opportunities in live, just like his brother.

Chicago: the Windy City. “You should come. There are jobs and you will see tall buildings. Don’t hesitate.”

During the journey through Mexico, 11-year-old Luis was raped twice; once in Zeta territory, and another time by the same trafficker who had promised to protect him and deliver him to his brother. It is how one must “pay their dues” to be able to enter the U.S. Luis thought that he would forget it all the moment he saw the buildings of Chicago. He would use selective memory and the power of denial, and he would be fine.

But when it came time to cross the U.S. border, they left him alone and adrift because the border patrol began to pursue them. In the middle of the desert, after many days without food, he collapsed, and like a martyr of the new generation, was left to die.

Luis perished while fleeing from a society of putrefaction, where it is preferable to risk dying in a desert than to stay in the suffering and martyrdom that is to live in Guatemala, which is under the control of gangs and a vicious cycle of poverty that no one escapes because opportunities are scarce and, above all, because the social system promotes stagnation of progress: It is seen as better that we all be trapped together than that only one person manage to escape. Guatemala is a bucket full of crabs.

A few days ago, the national government of Guatemala launched a campaign called “Stay Here!” so that parents such as Luis’s don’t consider the “advantages” of sending their children to the U.S. Guatemala’s first lady, Rosita de Perez, did not include until what date people should stay, but it is impossible to be so inhumane.

While Luis’s body decomposed in the middle of the desert, the presidents of the Northern Triangle met in Panama with Mexico’s minster of foreign affairs and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Obama called for an “orderly and legal migration.”

The problem is not whether Guatemalan people remain or leave. The problem is why they are going! And it is because the conditions in our country are so squalid for the average person, because our state is rotted by social decomposition, by the weakening of rule of law, because the country cannot even accommodate those returning home!

It is for these reasons the people prefer to become part of the “humanitarian crisis,” risking their lives, dying alone in a desert in order to leave behind Guatemala, searching for the new meaning of what was once the damned American dream.

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