Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream

Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream

Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream

Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream

Excerpt

On a spring night in 2008, hundreds of people in the Mexican state of Hidalgo pressed into the base of a canyon ablaze with torches. So palpable was the shared shock and grief, people later said, that neither pastor nor priest was needed. The place was El Alberto, an Otomí community located several hours north of Mexico City, in the region known as the Valle del Mezquital. The event was a memorial service for one of their own who had died in the desert of southern Arizona, shortly after an attempted border passage. Earlier that evening, several young men from this community of about two thousand people had climbed steep, rocky trails to light giant luminaries upon the canyon walls. As families arrived by the carload, the smell of kerosene and the flicker of torchlight cut through the growing darkness. It was nearly dawn by the time the remains of the deceased arrived. The event marked the first time a migrant from El Alberto had died at the U.S.-Mexico border. It was not the first time the torches had been lit.

Since 2004, residents of El Alberto have produced the torch show once a week. They do so as part of the Caminata Nocturna, a U.S.Mexico border crossing simulation that invites tourists—the majority . . .

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