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 Sandra Guallpa
In the photos, the soles of your shoes looked worn out. Looking at them, one could imagine the journey, you had to walk, from your country to the north of Mexico, crossing borders, fleeing from both the police and kidnappers, and sneaking between the railroad tracks. Your trip back home has not been any less tragic. They brought you to the City of Mexico in a truck used to transport grocery products, so you could be identified and repatriated. The authorities that abandoned you when you crossed the country were abandoning you again in this crossing. Unguided, the truck crashed. Your body lay in a heap by the side of the road and the embalmer carried you with the carefulness of a lover, so as not to hurt you even more. He picked you up, undressed you from the plastic bag and washed you. He couldn’t recognize the color of your skin, your eyes, or the shape of your face, stamped by suffering. But as he looked at the holes in your clothing and your shoes, he thought about your story. And without knowing you, he felt he knew you. He envisioned that you left your home because you wanted to become better for your family and that your country like ours is sickly and vomits out those who live within it. He imagined that you had favorite songs and that you sang them throughout your journey, perhaps, as he sings when he returns home.
Today your body remains with the Forensic Medical Examiner waiting to be identified so we can know who you are and where you came from. Perhaps, we will never know. Here they call you immigrant number 52. And in every thought we name you.Topic: Nonfiction, Spring 2011 Tags: None