Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández

In May of 1997, US Marines on border patrol near Redford, Texas, shot and killed an American high school student, Esequiel Hernández, who was tending a herd of goats. The targeted killing was the first against a U.S. citizen on native soil by the military since the Kent State killings in 1971.

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández is a PBS P.O.V. film that will air beginning July 8th at 10:00 PM EST. The film is directed by Kieran Fitzgerald and narrated by Tommy Lee Jones. As some of you may recognize, parts of this story is loosely depicted in Jones' film, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. (Three Burials is one of my favorite movies now, and in my opinion, is far better than No Country For Old Men.)

Redford is home to a population of about 100 people. A very poor town, it boasts a cheese co-operative and a goat herd. Bordering on the Rio Grande, its residents have relatives on both side of the river. A rich heritage of both Mexican and American traditions are part of Redford and its citizens. Median income for families living in this forsaken landscape is around $15,000 a year; 83% living below the poverty line.

A US federal grand jury declined to indict the Marine who shot Esequiel in the back, a single shot that killed the boy where he stood. A big question remains: why didn't the Marines call out to him to identify themselves? Why was there no warning shot fired first instead?

Questions that will have no answers mostly because America is in an ugly mood these days where Mexicans are concerned. I am not the only one who feels that the facts have been covered up for various reasons, not the least of which is Esequiel's skin color and financial status.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the PBS film should prove to be interesting.

My own emotions regarding border protection and reinforcement are all over the board. And what is your position on the ongoing Mexican illegal immigration saga?

Does the sniper-like killing of an American bother you? Do you feel more comfortable not asking yourself the hard questions?


bill/prairie point said...

I am bothered more by the drug smuggling and gang activity along the border. A lot of lives are being lost or ruined on both sides of the river and it all gets ignored because the victims are mostly poor and Hispanic. I think this is the border problem we should really focus on.

Ronni Bennett said...

Having nothing to do with this important post, Pattie...


Virginia said...

Happy birthday, Pattie.

naomi dagen bloom said...

thanks for the heads-up on the POV program July 8. seems my only break from telling the emperor he is naked is to knit--in between rants.

btw, as a myopic new yorker, i was intrigued to see you describe where you live as "urban." that stretches my thinking.

here's to a happy birthday and better government in the near future.

yours, naomi

Darlene said...

Have a very Happy Birthday, Pattie, from a fellow Gemini.

My birthday was yesterday - next year we should get together to celebrate.

Re: border issues. I am so saddened by the hate and ignorance that the hard liners have on this issue. That one of our own could kill an innocent boy without consequences speaks volumes about our current government. I hope it doesn't speak for the rest of us.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Thank you one and all!

(Though I guess I should have had a less serious post up, but glad everyone stopped by.)


Pete said...

Our government trades on the fact that so many of us Americans find it reassuring, even comforting, to have some group of "others" to demonize and execrate.

I think the ongoing furor over "illegal immigrants" exists to paper over naked racism. These immigrants could be made "legal" with a stroke of the pen. It's their brown skin that causes all the fear and loathing.

Why does anyone become an illegal immigrant? Think about it: how hungry and desperate would you have to be to spend every cent you have and risk your life at the hands of a "coyote" in order to sneak into a country where you will be utterly despised?

sharryb said...

Happy Birthday, C. Pattie! It's just fine (wonderful!) to let us know about the PBS film. Yes, it's serious, but it's good to know what's going on with others even as we celebrate. I hope you have a great evening (it's about 6:00 pm there now) and a wonderful year.


mildredgarfield said...

Hi Pattie

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Pattie, happy birthday to you!!

Have a great day and a great year filled with ALL good things!!

la peregrina said...

I am shocked to find out parts of The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (also one of my favorite movies) was based on fact. Will be watching POV. As for illegal immigration, if this has nothing to do with racism then why aren't we just as worried about the border between us and Canada?

P.S. And a very happy birthday to you.

Claude said...

Happy birthday, Pattie and many happy returns.

Beverly said...

Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday To YOU!!

Enjoy your day, today and tomorrow...

joared said...

Here's wishing you a very happy birthday!

I think your post is quite fitting, symbolizing the serious issues you frequently write about here, including individual rights, other topics associated with Texas.

If we don't care about individual rights of all of our citizens, then maybe we do deserve to lose them. Surely a public airing is appropriate in this instance you relate as the focus of this PBS film.

Anonymous said...

Belated happy birthday, Pattie!

Unlike Pete, I don't think it a good idea to legalize everyone "with the stroke of a pen". As a proponent of forward-looking population planning, I cannot condone a policy that would help another nation continue its overpopulating tradition. Obviously, I disagree with the current administration's (heck, the Republican party's) prohibition of helping other countries with efforts at population planning. The root of all evil is not the love of money. Much is due to overpopulation.

Peter said...

Going by the "conventional wisdom" of the blogosphere America is about to be overrun by Mexicans, so one dead one won't matter. Of course the blogosphere also believes that the Mexican takeover of America will just be temporary, because before long Islam will Conquer the World.

I am dismayed at the extent to which blogging has fallen into the hands of extremists.

Hokule'a Kealoha said...

As the granddaughter of immigrants I understand why they come here. I know that we have profited handsomely from their situation as a nation. But is it right to allow millions of people who have knowingly broken the law a free ride? My grandmother had to come legally or not at all. Its a hard question...

I do believe that areas in the nation are over run. I am from LA and it is just unbelieveable. The place looks sounds and smells like Mexico. Its really sad.

Happy birthday my dear friend... thinking of you

Kay Dennison said...

A belated Happy Birthday!

I work for an agency that helps Hispanics. I come in contact with them every day. My boss is an immgration specialist who is nationally known for his expertise.

Most of the people who come to us are poor. Most are well-mannered gentle people who work hard for less than minium wage at jobs many Americans won't lower themselves to do. Why? Because they want a better life -- just as our ancestors did when they came here.