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In Search of Amilcar PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 23 August 2012 01:49

San Fernando Valley Parents Seek Help In Search For Son After He Disappears On Journey To U.S., Joining Others To Support Caravan For Peace

ALEX GARCIA/SFVS

Paula Perez can't hide her stress.

She worries daily. It's been a year since her son, then age 16, left his native Guatemala to embark on his journey to the United States to reunite with his parents, who live here in the San Fernando Valley. But there's been no word and no sign of the teen.

"I've always been praying for him. I just want to know if he was arrested, if he's in an immigrant shelter, maybe he lost our phone number and can't call us," said the mother of Amilcar Josue Orozco.

The teenager left for the U.S. on June 15, 2011. The family initially paid $1,500 to a "coyote" (human trafficker) to bring him all the way to the United States. But Perez said the coyote abandoned her son somewhere in Mexico.

On June 24 last year, another trafficker called them, along with Amilcar, to let the parents know they were in Sonora and needed $250 for food and lodging before making the illegal entry into the United States across the rugged and extremely hot Arizona desert.

That was the last time they heard from their son. "I don't think they ever set foot into the United States," said Arnoldo Orozco, Amilcar's father. "I don't even know if they were in Sonora."

Despite fear of retribution, the parents decided to tell the story of their son's disappear-ance, hoping it could help shed light on his whereabouts.

Dangerous Journey

Amilcar is among the hundreds of young immigrants that disappear each year, never to be heard from again. Many fall victim to robbers and thugs. Some are lucky enough to make their way back home.

There are scores of young children and teens that take the chance of traveling alone with the hope of reuniting with family members living in the United States. But it's a tremendous risk. Young immigrants can fall victim to trusting the wrong people and, like Amilcar, are never heard from again. Sometimes teens as young as 13 are used as scouts by traffickers and are beaten, held against their will, even sexually abused and killed.

"During the last year, the traffickers have been threatening Amilcar's relatives in Guatemala not to talk about his disappearance," said Gloria Saucedo of pro-immigrant group Hermandad Mexicana of Panorama City, which has been helping the parents. Two other teens – Carlos Alexander Gonzalez, also 16, and Francisco Israel Gomez Lopez, 17 – were traveling with Amilcar, and they haven't been heard from, either.

To complicate matters, the traffickers had obtained fake Mexican birth certificates for all three to help them pass from Central America into Mexico. But Perez and her husband don't know the names they were using. That makes it even more difficult to track or check with immigration authorities to find out if the youngsters were detained at a border crossing.

It was a decade ago when Perez and Orozco left Guatemala and their three sons behind in the care of Perez' mother. It was their hope to find an escape from poverty to a place where they could provide a better life for their family. Orozco said they tried to obtain a permit for Amilcar to come to the United States legally, but were never able to secure one for him. And without an alternative, they believed they had no choice but to have him make the trek into Mexico, and then into the United States illegally.

Peace Caravan Seeks Action

Crossing into Mexico has become increasingly dangerous for Central Americans. In August 2010, the bodies of 72 immigrants were found massacred in an abandoned ranch near that belonged to migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil. Mass graves were also found in the same area last year and in recent months. The majority of those bodies have not been identified yet.

The parents said they do worry about that gruesome news and hope that their son is OK. In their search for answers, they've even sought the help of a psychic.

"He (the psychic) told me he was alive and that he needed a lot of help," Perez said. Perez was present last week during a stop in Los Angeles by a Peace Caravan led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who is traversing across the country with a group of activists and family members of the estimated 20,000 people who have disappeared in Mexico in the past six years. The 30-day caravan will arrive in Washington, D.C. in early September, hoping to shine a light on the thousands of murders and disappearances south of the border, which Sicilia says are directly linked to the insatiable hunger for drugs and the weapons produced in the United States.

"We want people to open their eyes to what's happening in Mexico, to pressure their government, their (presidential) candidates to take a look at this, because this peace has to be a shared effort," Sicilia said.

Continued Efforts

Sicilia, the leader of the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad (Movement for Peace, Justice and Dignity), with the trademark phrase "Estamos Hasta la Madre" (We're Fed Up), has rallied thousands of people to join him in similar caravans in Mexico in asking for an end to the violence that has plagued that country for the past several years.

Sicilia advocates for the nearly 60,000 who have died in Mexico since the government started a war against narco traffickers in 2006, as well as the nearly 20,000 who have disappeared during the time. Sicilia became enraged with the current state of his country after his son, Juan Francisco, and six of his friends were murdered in March of 2011. He has since become an inspirational voice for peace, justice and reform, drawing huge crowds throughout Mexico.

He decided to bring his movement north of the border on a 30-day Caravan for Peace, traveling from San Diego to Washington, D.C.

Legalize Drugs, Stop Gun Sales

Sicilia advocates for the legalization of drugs, which he argues would put an end to the illegal flow of drugs and bloodshed. He also wants to stop to the sale of high-powered weapons that in many instances end up in the hands of drug cartels in Mexico, where they are used to perpetuate the violence and murders.

"We need an absolute control of weapons," Silicia said. "We're not against the second amendment, but the way it is right now it's not what this country's founding fathers had in mind."

The Caravan spent three days in Los Angeles, where Sicilia met with local officials and community groups.

"If you people of the United States do not take on the errors of your government – as we are doing with ours – and ask them to change their war policies toward drugs, to exert a strict control over the illegal gun trafficking into Mexico, to demand them to drastically attack money laundering, and to create human and inclusive policies for immigrants in order to rebuild not only the social tissue of México but also that of Central America and the places within the United States stroked by misery, this night will in fact arrive, an absolute night, tantamount to the one that spread over those countries where crime, authoritarianism and militarism has rooted," Sicilia said.

Before leaving Los Angeles, Sicilia stood before the image of La Virgin de Guadalupe at La Placita Church. He received a blessing from Fr. Richard Estrada, flanked by dozens of people who understood and shared his pain, including a Pacoima couple who hasn't heard from their son who was making his way to the United States through Mexico last year.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 06:09