Frontera Fund News

Colibrí Human Rights Center Celebrates Lives Lost in the Desert

Dia de los muertos-colibri
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Our partners from Colibri, Human Rights Center posted today a moving tribute to the persons who had lost their lives while crossing our Arizona desert in search of the American DREAM. 

Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund reproduces the homage here.

Today we once again celebrate el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to remember those precious loved ones who we’ve lost. On this sacred day, tradition says that the veil between worlds lifts to reunite families, friends, and communities.

It has become our own special tradition at Colibrí to share words on el Día de los Muertos, particularly around the loss of life on the border and the communal need to remember and recognize the individual, irreplaceable lives that are being sacrificed to brutal border and immigration policies. Today, I’d like to keep my words short and instead turn your attention to photos — photos of the individuals who we’ve worked to help identify this year.

Spend time holding the images of these faces in your mind.
The expressions.
The smiles.
The individuality.

It’s a small action, but the least we can do today to celebrate their lives and to pay respect to their families who grieve an indescribable loss.

32 photos. 32 irreplaceable people. 32 people who led complex, happy, painful, loving, challenging lives; the full intricate spectrum of the human experience.

Dia de los muertos-colibri

Photos provided to Colibri by families of the missing in the desert.

What makes me ache with horror and shame is that these lives were not lost to “fate”, at least not to that intangible, unpreventable figure of myth that foresees death. No, these deaths were anticipated by human forces, the same who design punitive policies that say migrant lives are dispensable, the same that deport and separate families, the same that build walls, the same that funnel people into remote deserts.

Since 1998, more than 7,057 people have died crossing the borderlands. At Colibrí, we currently have 2,452 open missing person cases reported by families who are still searching for their loved ones. We work each day to bring answers to the families, but also to bring these words to you all: our border and immigration policies must change.

Today, on Día de los Muertos, remember those who have lost their lives on the border, remember those who are still missing, remember their families, their friends, their communities. Celebrate. Grieve. And when tomorrow comes, recommit yourself to being an advocate for humane border and immigration policies, policies that fundamentally protect the right to life. To create change that truly protects human life is not a task to be shouldered alone by the families of the missing and deceased or by one organization; it is a demand we all make together.

Feliz Día de los Muertos.