Friday, June 5, 2009

U.S. to water-giver: you're a criminal

This is the sort of everyday outrage that punctuates life in the USofA, that brings me up short, stunned and trembling with fury. Yesterday in Tucson, Arizona, Walt Staton was found guilty in federal court on charges that carry a possible sentence of up to one year in prison. His crime? Leaving jugs full of water in the desert wilderness of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. The water is for the desperate, brave people who cross that landscape without immigration documents--driven to do so because there are no jobs, there is no way to survive in their home countries thanks to NAFTA and other crimes of capitalism.

In the last eight months, 79 human beings have died crossing that desert. Staton and other volunteers with the organization No More Deaths/No Más Muertas leave jugs of water in hopes that the water will save some lives. (They also pick up the empty jugs, take them home and refill them.) They are angels of mercy. For this they are prosecuted and face imprisonment. And you ask why we need a revolution?

A year ago I attended a screening of the movie Crossing Arizona, which documents the situation in the Arizona desert, and includes a fair amount of footage of some of the folks who spend their days providing water. I was so moved by their kindness and decency, and so disgusted at the racism of the anti-immigrant forces of the Minutemen who spend their time hunting down the crossers as if they were animals.