By Tom Eck
It was a beautiful wall. Completed just two years ago without the assistance of Mexico, as demanded by then presidential candidate, Donald Trump, it had done a marvelous job of shutting out the feared wave of illegal aliens from Mexico. It was electrified, fueled by the sun, emitting just enough power to keep the lights on all night long, while shocking into unconsciousness those who tried to scale it.
“A masterpiece of American ingenuity, ¨ Bill O´Reilly of Fox News had crowed, as the wall neared completion six months ahead of schedule. He didn’t mention that many of those who had toiled in the hot desert sun in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were exactly the kind of illegal immigrants that the wall was designed to shut out. No one cared. Help, and a lot of it, was needed to build that barrier as fast as possible in the race between intrusion and exclusion.
One of the workers had been Gustavo Nuñez. Fifty, and wizened, he needed all the money he could muster to pay for his wife’s medical bills in her losing fight against cervical cancer. With phony documents, he began working immediately. He suspected that his employers, government subcontractors, knew that the documents were false, but all they wanted was the appearance of legitimacy. They needed workers.
Although an electrician by trade, Gustavo started as a mason, laying the concrete blocks that would forever bar his gente from the promise of a better life north of the border. His family, back in the town of Navajoa in the state of Sonora, suffered insults and threats from many of those who stayed behind, as the nightly local news reported the progress in the construction of what most believed was the end of hope.
When he returned home on a furlough, his family cried, as they told him of their sufferings. Gustavo’s heart was heavy, but there seemed to be something in his determined brown eyes that assured them that all would be well.
“We need the money,” he reminded them, “and what I am being paid in the next year, I cannot make in a lifetime here in Navajoa.”
Still, many of those who knew Gustavo could not believe that he would sell out for a few pieces of silver.
After a month, Gustavo’s expertise as an electrician became known. He was then assigned the task of wiring the solar panels to the lighting and the electrification of the razor wire topping the 18-foot wall. More howls from his gente back home. He truly was Judas reincarnated. But Gustavo plodded on, ignoring the insults of his townspeople, with the look of a man who knew something.
After the wall’s completion, he returned to Navajoa. The insults and snubs continued. At times, he would leave town for weeks on end. Many gossiped that he could not bear the shame in his heart. Others whispered that he had another family somewhere. But Gustavo said nothing.
As far as the United States was concerned, the wall was doing a magnificent job. Illegal immigration had come to a halt at the price of thousands who had perished from electrocution or dehydration. But the United States didn´t care.
Then things began to change. Few workers were on hand in the United States to pick crops that just rotted in the fields. Then the cold. At first, an Arctic freeze impaled Canada, but moved into the United States, destroying, what crops remained. The cost of food skyrocketed in the United States. No one expected the deep freeze to last even into April. But in May, snowstorms continued to blanket the country as far south as Shreveport, Louisiana. Food became scarce. Riots started. With the U.S. government so deep in debt from the construction of the wall, funds were not available to quell the rampage of the starving hordes.
The cold continued. By June, pure pandemonium strangled the country. Little food. No gasoline. People were still freezing to death. Some suggested that they look south to Mexico and Central America. Perhaps that is why civilization had survived there for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years. Others told of freezes in the north occurring millennia before where virtually all had perished.
“Gustavo, what are we going to do if the gringos swarm down upon us like a pack of starving wolves? We cannot defend ourselves against so many,” Jose, Gustavo´s brother, asked.
A sly smile crept onto Gustavo’s face. “Jose, where do you think that I have been going these past months? With many, many of my fellow gente, we have been quietly traveling to the border, using the sun and our Mexican ingenuity to electrify of the wall on our side, too. With no gasoline and no cars, the gringos will have to walk south to Mexico, as many of our compatriots had to do when travelling north. Just as we Mexicanos had no chance to get past the wall into the Estados Unidos, they will have no chance to get past that same wall and into Mexico.”
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