Sunday, 25 February 2007


Ken Berwitz

My previous blog was written before I saw this.  I am posting it without further comment because it doesn't need any.  Read it and get sick.


Mexico's 'Migrant Mountain'
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Mexico

Millions of migrants have crossed illegally from Mexico into the United States. Their experience could hardly be more real. But now at a controversial theme park in Mexico, tourists can pretend to be an illegal migrant.

Tourists pretending to be illegal migrants are captured
Tourists pretend to be illegal migrants who are chased and shot

Torch, check. Heavy boots, check. Willingness to hide under bushes, check. Ability to see in the dark, an advantage.

Preparation for what, you might think? A hike across Dartmoor? Try a night out in a theme park.

But when I say theme park, do not think Alton Towers or Disneyland. Think, instead, illegal migrants. Because now you can pretend to be an illegal migrant at a theme park in Mexico.

Mexican migrants

They come to the Eco Alberto Park to be shot at, chased and to wade through fast-flowing rivers.

I myself developed a certain connection with one such river, but more on that later.

Map of Mexico: Ixmiquilpan, site of Eco Alberto
Eco Alberto Park is about 700 miles from the border near Ixmiquilpan
For the equivalent of $19.50 (10), you can spend a night living like the millions of Mexicans who actually risked their lives crossing into the United States.

Except that here, the park is nowhere near the border and most people who turn up are about as likely to cross illegally into the United States as President George W Bush is to tunnel his way into Mexico.

The evening begins with a blood-curdling shout by Poncho, our balaclava-wearing head guide.

"Vamos! Let's go!" With that we all sprint off into the night. And I do mean night. It is inky dark and icy cold. This is, after all, the desert.

But do not conjure up images of Lawrence of Arabia strolling around pristine sand dunes. No, this is rugged, unforgiving terrain.

A kind of game

I came to give solidarity with real migrants. I feel it could be like this
A tourist at Eco Alberto Park
The plan is simple. We are the migrants and we are being chased by fake border patrols.

Within 30 seconds, I was hurtling down a hill.

Within 40 seconds I was lying at the bottom of that hill, having tripped.

And within 50 seconds, I was being knocked senseless by a woman who had also lost her footing, but who had skilfully directed her soft-landing onto me.

A bit further on, the real heavy stuff began. The shooting, I mean.

They had assured us that the fake border guards were using blanks, but they certainly sounded real.

"Come out, we know you are there," the guards taunt us, as we crouch in our bushes.

More shots, more shouting.

You know it is a kind of game, but all of a sudden it takes on a realism I had not expected.

Bang! And yet another shot and yet another shout. Sirens too.

We are told by Poncho to stand up. It is to witness an arrest.

migrants being driven away by the 'police'
The migrants that have been 'captured' are taken away
Yes, already for two of our group, the evening is over. They have been "captured".

The luckless pair are then led off into the night, never, by us at least, to be seen again.

Harbouring doubts

I use the moment to snatch a conversation with our group.

"I came to give solidarity with real migrants," one man told me. "I feel it could be like this".

Soon, we are off again. During the next sprint, I glimpsed one woman on the ground nursing a blood-stained knee.

Remember, this is for tourists.

We cross fences, tackle rickety bridges and bend double to make our way through tunnels.

Amnesty International has criticised the whole thing as trivialising the lives of real migrants. But Poncho does not see it like that.

A person pretending to be dead
A staged death is intended to heighten the drama
"It is serious," he says, "and it is our way of paying homage to those who seek a better life in America."

Five hours had now passed. This was an evening of hunting, fishing and shooting, without the fishing.

We came to a wood. And in the wood lay... that fast-flowing river.

For several minutes a man in front of me had sneakily been using his torch. It was my visual lifeline.

But then it happened. Suddenly, he switched off his light.

He went left, I went right and straight into the fast-flowing river awaiting me.

Losing my grip

For the first few moments, I thought it was a large puddle. But as the momentum drew me in, so the water level rose. And rose.

And with the depth came the speed.

In a Florida theme park, they might be tempted to re-name the whole thing 'Migrant Mountain'
Before I knew it, I was swept off my feet. Luckily, there was a small bridge. I clung to it, but by now my feet were being dragged away.

This was not so much a bridge over troubled waters, as legs stuck under troubled waters. My grip was loosening.

The guides realised what had happened and came to me.

One grabbed my hand, another tried to grab my jacket.

They pulled, I pulled. But the river pulled harder.

I simply could not swing my legs out, the force of the water was so great.

And something approaching panic was beginning to set in.

Another couple of guides appeared. Thankfully, it made the difference.

Four men dragged me to safety.

Dripping wet, I thought, what if I had been a small child? I would never have survived.

For me, the evening had been real. I still harboured doubts about whether this was suitable adventure material for paying customers.

In a Florida theme park, they might be tempted to re-name the whole thing Migrant Mountain.

But here in Mexico, it has an authenticity that one can forgive, unlike its fast-flowing rivers.


Ken Berwitz

effrontery \ih-FRUN-tuh-ree\, noun:
Insulting presumptuousness; shameless boldness; insolence.

Between 10 and 15 percent of the Mexican population is now in the United States, a majority of them illegally.

That's right.  Not a typo.  There are about 110 million Mexicans and something like 10 - 15 million have "migrated" to the United States (no one knows the exact number), most without legal status. 

Mexico, for its part, is happy to see them go.  The Mexican government actually publishes pamphlets that TELL illegals how to do it and what to do if they're caught.  This sounds like a bad joke, I know, but it is true.  I've seen the pamphlets which detail procedures illegals should follow in both writing and pictures.

Most Mexican illegals come here because they cannot survive in Mexico.  They cannot find work that will allow them to support themselves or their families.  Contrasting their situation in Mexico with the job opportunities and social safety net handed to them in the USA, they come running.

Incidentally, when I say "job opportunities" I mean working below the going wage for legals, very often below minimum wage, without job security or benefits of any kind.  As horrible as this may sound to you, it is preferable to what they have in Mexico.  This is self-evidently true, because Mexicans illegally jump the border every day to get it.

Illegals come here for other reasons too, some of them far from elevated. 

One of the more unsettling reasons is political.  There are "reconquista" movements in both Mexico and the USA that claim the southwest states ARE Mexico and must be taken back.  These people may be nuts, but they are dead serious and illegals are literally becoming an army within our borders dedicated to this result.

Another reason is simply to take what they can get from the USA whether they work or don't.  For example, by law no hospital can refuse a Mexican illegal emergency care, so pregnant women, if they can get over the border, have a free delivery of their babies with a quality of health care they could never get in their homeland.  How much do legal citizens pay for insurance and for additional, uninsured costs when a baby is born?  Well, add the cost of pregnant illegals to that amount, because whoever does the paying pays for them too.

And let's not forget the seemingly countless number of social programs, both governmental and non-governmental, that give things to illegals, along with politicians who demand that they get driver's licenses, social security benefits (that YOU kicked in the money for, not them), etc.  Compared to their legal situation in Mexico, the USA is heaven on earth. 

At this point you might be interested to know how Mexico deals with illegals coming INTO their country.  The answer is, swiftly and harshly.  If you google "Illegal immigration into Mexico") you'll find accounts of their treatment that will stand your hair on end. 

Here is one of the most sanitized versions of what happens when illegals enter Mexico, written by Larry Elder (bold print is mine):


First, Mexico put its military and police forces on its porous, zigzagged, mountainous, crime-ridden southern border with Guatemala. Chiapas the South Carolina-sized southern Mexican state that shares the longest border with Guatemala is Mexico's poorest, most illiterate state. About Chiapas, one United Nations human rights commissioner said, "Mexico is one of the countries where illegal immigrants are highly vulnerable to human rights violations and become victims of degrading sexual exploitation and slavery-like practices, and are denied access to education and health care."

Typically, when Mexican authorities catch illegal aliens, they place them overnight in a detention center, then bus or fly them back to their country of origin. Despite the fact that Mexico militarized its border and deported 203,128 illegal immigrants in 2004, many illegals get through by bribing corrupt military and police.


With the preceding in mind, please now read the following article about the "Anger" of Mexico's congress against our efforts regarding border protection, from today's BBC News.  See how you feel about it:


Mexican anger over US 'trespass'

Mexico's Congress has condemned what it says is a border violation by US workers building a controversial barrier between the two countries.

Legislators say workers and equipment building a section of the barrier have gone 10 metres (yards) into Mexico.

The alleged border violation comes ahead of a high-level meeting in the Canadian capital Ottawa.

US, Mexican and Canadian foreign ministers are to discuss border security and trade issues.

Mexican legislators said they had photographs and video, taken on Monday, of the workers and heavy-duty construction equipment that showed them about 10 metres inside Mexico near the border city of Agua Prieta and the town of Douglas, Arizona.

The Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said she had complained to the US authorities and that the men and equipment had been withdrawn.

Continental trade concerns

In a statement, the US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza said: "The US is sensitive to Mexican concerns... [and] has the deepest respect for the integrity of the sovereignty of Mexican soil".

He said US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had not been in the area of the alleged incursion and recent photographs of him welding a section of the fence had been taken in a different part of Arizona on the US side of the border.

The US says it is building 700 miles (1,125km) of fencing along its border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration.

Many Mexicans see the fence as offensive and say it will be ineffective and potentially cause more deaths in border crossings.

An estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants were arrested in 2005 trying to cross into the US via the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

About 11 million Mexicans are thought to live in the US, more than six million of them illegally.



What we have here is illegal Mexicans, aided and abetted by the Mexican government, streaming into the USA by the millions, to take what they can get from us.  And the Mexican government is furious that, in trying to do something about it, we might have accidentally put a barrier about 30 feet - one first down - into THEIR territory?

Let's understand that Mexico is not some poor third-world country.  It is a rich country, with booming industry, vibrant agriculture, a huge tourist trade, and vast natural resources including silver and oil. 

If Mexican citizens are treated so poorly in their own country that they find it preferable to live illegally in the USA, often in squalor and humiliation, the problem IS their own country.

The answer for Mexico lies in treating their people like human beings.  They have the resources to do it.  But they don't.  Why not?  I have to assume it's because the Mexican government is either so corrupt that they would rather line their pockets than allow their citizens to have even a minimal level of subsistence, or that they just don't give a damn whether their people live or die.  Probably both.

Put another way, the Mexican government should stash their effrontery where the sun don't shine and use their national wealth for their people.  Hey, look at all the money they'll save on pamphlets.

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