This year’s events:
“Indians, Coyotes, and Human Rights on the Mexican Border”
Dr. Victor Clark-Alfaro
Lecturer at San Diego State University
Director of Bi-national Center for Human Rights in Tijuana Mexico
November 05, 2013
On November 05, 2013 Dr. Victor Clark-Alfaro visited Indiana University through an invitation from the Minority Languages and Cultures Project (MLCP) to give a presentation entitled “Indians, Coyotes, and Human Rights on the Mexican
Border.” His talk was attended by numerous faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students and was followed by a lively question and answer session. Dr. Clark-Alfaro is currently a lecturer at San Diego State University and Director of the Bi-National Center for Human Rights in Tijuana Mexico. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of California San Diego. His research interests revolve around border issues. He is also currently working on a book which discusses issues sex workers face on the Tijuana border.
Dr. Clark-Alfaro began his talk by discussing Tijuana’s economy. There are four economic forces that contribute to the local economy:
1. Manufacture/factory positions
2. Local commerce
4. Organized crime
He then explained that many indigenous communities arrive to Tijuana in search of a better life. Yet to be indigenous in Tijuana means to carry a stigma.
He then went on to explain the different types of coyotes. The first are indigenous coyotes, which are known for three characteristics:
1. They are safe and trustworthy (They often times take people across the border from their own pueblos)
2. They charge in payments (There is a sense of trust between the coyotes and their clients)
3. They are also known to respect women
Other coyotes are classified according to their generation. At this moment, there are three generations of coyotes. The first generation began to work after the Bracero Program ended in 1979. According to Dr. Clark-Alfaro, the third generation of coyotes, the youngest, are known to be irresponsible. They tend to view their clients as mercancia, goods to be bought, sold, or exchanged.
Victor then focused his talk on deported immigrants. He explained that while the undocumented experience discrimination in the United States, they are also criminalized when deported to Mexico. Many Mexicans view the deported as being responsible for the violence and unemployment rates in Tijuana. Also, because many of the deported do not have the documents needed to work in Mexico; it becomes extremely difficult to find jobs. Thus often times these individuals become homeless or begin working with the cartels.
Graduate Student Round Table
On Wednesday October 24, 2013 the Minority Languages and Cultures Program held its Fall 2013 Graduate Student Round table. The roundtable featured Kathryn Lehman, an MA in Latin American Studies and Sarah Foss, a PhD in History. Through this roundtable, the audience was able to learn about the research process and ask questions concerning the students’ research.
Kathryn Lehman presented on field work conducted in the Summer of 2013 in Bolivia. Kathryn’s research centers on indigenous identity before and after the rubber boom. She specifically focuses on how the rubber boom created a shared experience among indigenous and non-indigenous workers. During her time in Bolivia, Kathryn conducted research in the Archivo Hictorico, Casa Suarez and explained the dilapidated condition the documents were found in. Despite the archives condition, she was still able to find a plethora of information.
Sarah Foss’ research focuses on the expression of indigeniety, specifically through clothing. She conducted her Summer 2013 research in Guatemala, where she spent the majority of her time visiting different archives such as Cirma and the Archivo General de Centro America. Through this experience, Sarah became aware of the importance of networking and reciprocity in order to gain access to certain forms of information. This became evident when she went to El Municipal de Solola where she had to explain to the municipal how her research was good for the community. Sarah also explained how her research has evolved and narrowed throughout time.