Alvaro Enciso is one of the most notable artists in the American Southwest. Among his other work, in recent years he has placed crosses to mark the deaths of more than 900 migrants who have died in the Sonoran desert south of Tucson, each marked with a red dot, like the dot marking the thousands of deaths of immigrants on the “death maps” published by Humane Borders. This is his report from the borderlands, yesterday.
on june 15, 2015, the body of adan ernesto vasquez alvarez, a mexican man, was recovered half a mile north from the wall east of nogales, sonora. he was 31 years of age. his death was attributed to hyperthermia. the area where he jumped the wall is heavily patrolled by bp agents in cars and helicopters. we do not know how many times adan went over the wall, was spotted, and ran back to mexico. this is known as “el correteo.” yesterday when i was planting the pink cross for him a helicopter flying very low, was correteando one or more border crossers.
i also planted the red cross for quintilo hernandez pileno, age 37, whose remains were recovered on june 14, 2013 by the side of the i-19 service road. the cause of his his death is listed as heat exposure. he too had been born in mexico.
less than a quarter of a mile from where quintilo died, the body of mexican national daniel martinez martinez, age 20, was recovered that same year. the blue cross is for him.
“ampollas” is the spanish word for blisters, and here in the sonoran desert ampollas can kill you; if you can not walk you are left behind. some migrants carry foot powder and an extra pair of socks. and you hope that your shoes will not fall apart.