Part of “Found in Translation,” works of Spanish-to-English translation from memorials on the site 72 Migrantes. Nominated by Professor Esther Allen:
“On August 24, 2010, 73 immigrants from Central and South America, trying to make their way into the United States, were kidnapped in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas by members of the drug gang known as Los Zetas. For unknown reasons, the gang massacred the entire group. Only one survivor escaped to tell the story.
“In reaction to this atrocity – the worst committed by drug traffickers in Mexico to date – a group of Mexican writers and journalists, led by Alma Guillermoprieto, founded a virtual altar to commemorate its victims. On the Día de los Muertos (November 1), Mexicans honor their departed loved ones. Photographs, cherished objects and favorite foods are set out on altars, and families spend the day with their dead, singing to them and remembering them. The virtual altar that is www.72migrantes.com invited writers and photographers to evoke each of the 72 massacred immigrants, whether identified or unidentified, in words and images, in the spirit of the Day of the Dead.
“In the fall of 2011 I inaugurated a workshop on translation from Spanish to English here at Baruch. The class’s first assignment was to translate a news article about the massacred immigrants. When we learned about the virtual altar, we agreed that for the class’s final project, each student would translate one of its commemorative texts. The project seemed especially appropriate since Alma Guillermoprieto has a strong connection to Baruch, having received an honorary doctorate here in 2008.
“With the publication of these texts in i Magazine, these evocations of the immigrants and their terrible fate can be read about and discussed on both sides of the border they were trying to cross, which is linguistic as well as geopolitical. In addition to the work published here, translations of other 72migrantes texts done by Baruch students can be read on the blog of The New York Review of Books.”
Translated by Carolina Julian
“It is more arduous to honor the memory of the nameless than the renowned. Historical construction is devoted to the memory of the nameless.”
I don’t want to mention that his name was Jose Angel Flores Bolaños and that he lived in Puerto Parada, Usulutan, in El Salvador. It is useless to say that he was 33 years old because he will never be brought back to life.
It would be absurd to count the miles between el Rio Grande of San Miguel, in El Salvador, and el Rio Grande of the North. Two months before his death, Puerto Parada suffered from a flood of biblical proportions, much like the one that is taking place in Mexico right now. All the crops were lost, thousands of animals had to be sacrificed and hundreds of families had to find another place, another town, another home. A campesino said on Salvadoran television: “We are no longer able to live here, for that reason I want to leave.” Perhaps this was what Jose Angel Flores also thought and why he left his overflowing river to try to cross another Rio Grande, the one known in Mexico as el Río Bravo del Norte.
What’s the purpose of mentioning his mother’s name or those of the relatives who welcomed him home in a gray casket wrapped in the blue and white colors of his flag? Why speak of the forty-minute speeches made by Salvadoran President Funes, Pastor Fernando Salguero or Father Angel Garcia?
When the ceremony came to a close, Jose Angel Flores’ family, overwhelmed and speechless, returned to Puerto Parada carrying a box and not their prodigal son’s belongings.
This is why I don’t want to mention his name, but I also don’t want fear to keep dictating our words or our silence.Topic: Nonfiction, Spring 2011 Tags: None