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May 19, In The Desert With Alvaro Enciso

May 19, In the Desert with Alvaro Enciso

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 in the Sonoran desert south of Tucson, each marked with a red dot, like the dots marking the thousands of deaths of immigrants on the “death maps” published by Humane Borders. This is his report from the borderlands earlier this week.


in southern arizona migration corridors for the most part, go thru public land(national forest, blm, state trust, etc), these are remote areas without sources of water, few roads, that you enter at your own risk. migrants die out there, and their bodies lie in the open for months, years, before they are discovered. today, in one of those areas i planted the yellow cross for andres ortiz ramirez, a mexican man, age 35, whose skeletal remains were recovered in november of 2012.

but sooner or later, migrants have to go across private cattle ranches, agricultural farms, indian reservations, active mines, around bp checkpoints, to reach their destinations. eusebio silva montiel, after walking many, many miles of hostile terrain, reached a patch of private pasture land, and could not go any farther. his skeletal remains were recovered in august of 2015, not far from a paved road that nowadays goes to a fertilizer plant that replaced a dynamite factory that blew up decades ago.

the current owner of the pasture land gave us permission to visit the spot where eusebio died, but had some restrictions so that our honoring that fallen migrant would not impose on his religious beliefs.

the light blue cross is for an unidentified male migrant, whose fully fleshed body was recovered by the side of a major state road, not far from a town and the interstate. the cause of death is listed as dehydration and hyperthermia.

thank you pete, michele, rich for helping with this project today, and i am always indebted to the tucson samaritans for their support, use of their vehicles, gps, etc.

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