“Humanize” the US border and Mexico, a challenge for writers

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    The 'dreamer' and Mexican playwright Amalia Rojas (l), the former Border Patrol Francisco Cantú (2l), the essayist and novelist Valeria Luiselli (2r), and the moderator Juan Manuel Benitez (r), participate in the talk "Borders of Our Imagination "today, Friday, April 20, 2018, at the Cervantes Institute, in New York (USA). EFE

    To the US border and Mexico have been “propelled” many people, including renowned writers who today advocated to “humanize” that dividing line through their art and activism in the international literature festival PEN World Voices in New York.

    “The ways in which the border dehumanizes people are subtle and cumulative,” for example, through the “language used to talk about those who cross,” said Francisco Cantú, former Border Patrol and author of “The Line Becomes A River “, about the experiences of migrants.

    In a panel hosted by the Cervantes Institute, the Mexican-American said that even being far from the border, it is easy for people to be “propelled” towards it, as it happened to a friend who was deported and whose children were born in the country.

    “There are undocumented people in each community, people who cross our lives,” recalled Cantu, who stressed that the metaphors with which the media refer to migrants and their deaths often use concepts of economic “cost” or violence , which is ultimately dehumanizing.

    However, writing about these stories can generate dilemmas, as it happened to the writer Valeria Luiselli, who decided to work as a volunteer translator in a federal court during the crisis of 2014, when there was a wave of Central American migrants, many of them unaccompanied children .

    “I felt responsible for what I knew, to divulge too much information (…), put them in the spotlight and expose them to more scrutiny, and I did not think I understood enough of the legal system to write a book,” explained the author. finally he tackled that experience in “Tell Me How It Ends”.

    Born in Mexico but raised in South Korea, South Africa and India, Luiselli acknowledged that the first time she was “politically” aware of what a border was, she crossed it as a child from her native country to the United States, where it is now established.

    Unlike her, the playwright and poet Amalia Rojas was not aware of this line or of what she represented until she was practically an adult and discovered that she had not been born in the United States, but that her parents had taken her to the country when she had 2 months.

    Rojas, covered by the Deferred Action program (DACA) that is now threatened by the Trump Administration, bases her work on stories like yours because she feels she has “the duty” to share them and also because writing is her “form of resistance” ”

    “I do not think I know any ‘dreamer’ (as the DACA beneficiaries are known) who is not an activist,” said the author, who struggles to open the way for women of color in the theater sector with their characters, among They are an undocumented girl who does not know what she is.

    The young woman, member of a group of “dreamers” who will present her literary pieces on Sunday at the festival, insisted on “humanizing the border as much as possible” during her career and, when she does not address that issue, she assured that she will include in her works the of social justice.

    In that sense, Cantu encouraged any artist, whether it is dedicated to “floral arrangements” or other fields, to bet on activism to connect with people, either “listening”, through language, or readjusting “loyalties”. “from nationalism towards humanity. efe

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