By Juan Montoya
On the eve of U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitanos' visit to the twin cities of Brownsville and Matamoros, a Huichol shaman performed a ceremony to bless her visit, for peace between the two counties and succor for the desperate immigrants who often pay for their efforts at a better life with their own.
Shaman Jacinto, who has been to the Matamoros-Brownsville area for the past 10 years, said that the fact that the Huichol ceremony for peace was held at the appropriately-named Hope Park only adds to the power of the prayer. Framed by the Border Wall and the bridge to Mexico in the background, Jacinto sat in front of a basket with the tools of the shaman: eagle feathers, a deer's hoofed foot end leg bone, and native herbs.
"The prayer will be carried by the water of the river that is shared between the two counties and join the sea," said a supporter.
Some of the media entourage asked the shaman how long a traditional blessing ceremony usually takes in his native land.
"If we start at 7 a.m. in the morning we continue until the next morning at 7 a.m.," he responded.
"Human being have been killing and maiming each other for thousands of years," said a participant at the ceremony. What's one day dedicated to peace?"
Even though the shaman has renovated his visa to enter the United States fro the second time, the Mexican consul in Brownsville was nowhere to be seen. Rodolfo Quilantan has been conspicuous for his absence from these ceremonies and has even been visibly hostile to promoting native Mexican issues or issues relating to the illegal deportations and the treatment of his fellow Mexican nationals in the Brownsville area.
His trips to the area have been sponsored by a binational cast that included local advocates of native rights like UTB professor Tony Zavaleta, Municipal Judge Ben Neece and Gerardo Acevedo Danache, vice president of the Tamaulipas Chamber of Commerce.
"We think that because of the fact that since Ms. Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security is scheduled to visit tomorrow, having shaman Jacinto hold his ceremony for peace between the two countries is very appropriate," Acevedo Danache told reporters.
Napolitano, testifying before Congress, said that the flow of undocumented immigrants has been slowed to a trickle elsewhere along the border, except for the McAllen sector, where it has actually increased.
The number of people dying on the road north has also increased, with Brooks County – three counties north of the river – accounting for most of those dying in South Texas.