“Sin Maíz, No Hay País”
“Sin Maíz, No Hay País”
After Three Years of living in the shadows of the United States, Laura Flora Oliveros returned to Mexico in 2004 to reunite with her daughters and her parents in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz. Erika, her youngest, had just turned five and was now strong enough, Flora hoped, to make the arduous border crossing. If everything worked as planned, Flora’s entire family—four generations of them—would be together in central Florida in a couple of weeks. On her second voyage north, Flora’s intuition told her that something was not right. Flora was attuned to the news of rapes and disappearances of hundreds of female migrants and maquila workers at the border, which a United Nations mission had been investigating. Her three daughters dismissed her concerns and begged her to go through with it. Just before the dusk river crossing, and over the girls’ protests, Flora abandoned the trip, forfeiting, for the second time in three years, all her savings to a coyote. “I felt awful about not making the crossing, but I had a foreboding thought. It frustrated all of my plans. My daughters didn’t sense the danger. They were happy, saying ‘Let’s go, Mom! Let’s go!’ ” Right or not, her decision left Flora, her three girls, and her parents penniless, 1,300 miles from her older children in Florida, José and Deysy, and a new grandchild she had yet to hold. They each had a change of clothing and nothing else, stuck at the border with hundreds of thousands of other migrants, who came mostly from Veracruz. Reynosa had become one of the world’s premier meeting places for southern labor and northern capital, the archetypical neoliberal city. And yet nobody outside of the booming city itself seemed to know about it aside from the Veracruzanos who flowed into its slums. In the decade after the 1994 free trade agreement, rural Mexicans headed north in unprecedented numbers. Much of it was internal to Mexico. The channel from Veracruz to Tamaulipas—Reynosa being the main destination—became the busiest internal pathway in the country.
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