Cruzando la frontera (Crossing Over): A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail

Cruzando la frontera (Crossing Over): A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail

by Ruben Martinez
Este es el recuento épico y conmovedor de una familia mexicana de migrantes, sus peripecias en Estados Unidos y las expectativas del pueblo que dejaron atrás. Escrito con pasión y compromiso, este libro narra la historia de una familia, de un pueblo y de un mundo.

La frontera entre México y Estados Unidos es uno de los límites


Este es el recuento épico y conmovedor de una familia mexicana de migrantes, sus peripecias en Estados Unidos y las expectativas del pueblo que dejaron atrás. Escrito con pasión y compromiso, este libro narra la historia de una familia, de un pueblo y de un mundo.

La frontera entre México y Estados Unidos es uno de los límites más permeables del mundo. Aunque el gobierno estadounidense destina miles de millones de dólares y un vasto arsenal para mantener el control de la migración ilegal, la frontera es atravesada diariamente por cientos de mexicanos en busca de trabajo. Sin embargo, la aventura del migrante es peligrosa: miles mueren en el intento y aquellos que logran llegar al otro lado están marcados como ilegales, sin documentación ni protección alguna.

El periodista Rubén Martínez le da un rostro humano al fenómeno de la inmigración al seguir el éxodo del clan Chávez, una familia mexicana numerosa con la desoladora distinción de haber perdido a tres hijos en un incidente trágico en la frontera. Realiza un seguimiento del progreso de la familia desde Cherán, su pequeño pueblo en el sur del país, a lo largo del angustioso viaje clandestino en tren hacia las granjas de tomates en Missouri, los campos de fresas en California, y los mataderos de Wisconsin. Martínez revela los efectos de la migración en los miembros de la familia que han quedado atrás y ofrece un poderoso retrato de la cultura del migrante, un intercambio que lleva el hip-hop a los pueblos indígenas de México, así como el pop mexicano a las llanuras del norte. Martínez argumenta que los siete millones de migrantes ilegales en Estados Unidos están generando una nueva cultura que influirá a ambos países, mientras que Latinoamérica y Estados Unidos están comenzado a parecerse cada vez más.

Editorial Reviews

Julia Alvarez
Rubén Martínez takes us on that quintessential and . . . tragic journey from the promise of America to the reality it offers.
Richard Rodriguez
What begins as a work of journalism . . . ends up, like a work of literature, forcing us to wonder about ourselves.
Mike Davis
Martínez writes with moral clarity and razor-sharp wit — no wonder he is setting off sensors all along the border.
Luis Alberto Urrea
Like his spiritual forebear, John Steinbeck, Martínez knows things about the migrant's heart that enrich us all.
Helena Maria Viramontes
Rubén Martínez he is our bravest.
Sandra Cisneros
Este es el tipo de periodismo que necesita el nuevo siglo: agudo, audaz, y fiel a la realidad. Quienes toman las decisiones con respecto a la frontera deben leer este libro.
Denise Chávez
De una intensidad inquebrantable, Cruzando la frontera es un gran testimonio a la vida en este continente bendito, complejo y turbulento. Los que vivimos en la frontera esperamos libros como este igual que el desierto espera la lluvia.
Publishers Weekly
Chronicling a family that lost three sons to a border crossing gone horribly wrong, Martinez travels repeatedly from San Diego to the city of Cheron, in the state of Michoacin, about 200 miles west of Mexico City. Though treated by some of the Mexicans he meets as more of a gringo than a norteno (a Mexican who has lived in the north), Martinez, an American of Mexican emigri parents, gets terrifically close to his subjects, following them from stultifying poverty in Mexico to mortally dangerous illegal crossings and harsh and also dangerous (and illegal) work in Arkansas, Connecticut, Missouri and California. Martinez draws a wealth of social, ethnic, linguistic and economic nuance in completely absorbing narratives. Each of the 13 chapters begins with a facing-page photo by Joseph Rodriguez (with whom Martinez collaborated on East Side Stories), showing us the cholos (gang members), coyotes (crossing guides) and pollos ("chickens" being led across), and also the everyday people whose lives are spread, one way or another, across the border. Martinez is now at Harvard on a Loeb fellowship, has won an Emmy for his work as a journalist, is associate editor of Pacific News Service and a correspondent for PBS's Religion and Ethics News Weekly. His book is heroic in its honesty and self-examination, and in its determination to tell its story completely and fully. (Oct. 3) Forecast: With the legal status of Mexican workers apparently on the White House front burner, this will be a huge book for policy wonks; look for terrific reviews, and for Martinez to do many a news chat. This will be a big seller on campus and with left-leaning readers (possibly for years), but the topicality and the qualityof the writing make a major breakout likely. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Martinez, Emmy award-winning journalist and author of The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A. (Vintage, 1993), delighted critics in 2001 with this intimate account of immigration. Martinez follows the Chavez clan-a large family that lost three migrant sons when a truck carrying them tried to outrace border patrol agents and flipped-from their native town of Cheran to Missouri's tomato farms, California's strawberry fields, and Wisconsin's slaughterhouses. Martinez successfully captures the constant exchange of Mexican and American customs, religion, and culture that takes place as the family fans into the United States. This is Martinez's debut in Spanish. The translation by Mexican native Rothschild Plaut flows smoothly but is sometimes inaccurate. The expression, "a city space of the mind," for instance, becomes the awkward "ciudad espacio en la mente" (instead of "espacio mental de ciudad"). Better editing would have caught numerous repetitions-a paragraph includes the connector "a pesar de" ("despite") five times; the improper use of the tu and usted pronouns ("The church where you were baptized, the church where your children will be baptized" turns into the incorrect "La iglesia donde fue bautizado, la iglesia donde fueron bautizados tus hijos"); and the incorrect English-style punctuation. Overall, though, the text reads well and the interesting topic will grab readers' attention. Recommended for public and academic libraries, and bookstores.
—Carmen Ospina, "Criticas" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Emmy Award-winning journalist Martinez here captures the human story of Hispanic migrants drawn north by a hunger for la vida mejor. Hundreds of "illegals" die each year attempting to cross the invisible line between Mexico and the United States. Among them were the Ch vez brothers, three undocumented farm workers who died in 1996 after a coyote's speeding truck flipped and crashed. Martinez spent a year traveling with the brothers' extended family, chronicling a four-generation-long journey northward. They begin in the family's hometown of Cher n, Michoac n, and travel across the southwestern desert to timber mills in Arkansas, meat-packing plants in Wisconsin, and greenhouses in Missouri, eventually arriving near the strawberry fields in California, the brothers' original destination. As he relates the passionate story of this migrant family on its never-ending search for identity, Martinez identifies components that contribute to the cultural swirl of the migrant experience and predicts the creation of a multiracial future. Martinez honestly articulates both the ideals and the enormous risks taken by migrants, showing how la tradici"n has foiled assimilation and the "melting pot" myth even as migration creates change on both sides of the border. Recommended for large public and academic libraries. Sylvia D. Hall-Ellis, Denver P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-The U.S.'s persistent effort to prevent undocumented workers from crossing its border with Mexico has cost thousands of lives in recent years. Among them were Benjamin, Jaime, and Salvador Chavez, three brothers killed in a single infamous incident. Why do people repeatedly risk their lives to make the illegal crossing? What is it like for them on both sides of the border? Some of the answers found here will surprise many readers, but few will be able to resist this remarkable account once the book has been opened. Martinez traveled to the Michoacan town of Cheran to find the Chavez family. This also proved to be a personal journey for him, triggering insights into his own cultural roots. Cheran is "an Indian town with one foot in pre-Columbian times and the other leaping toward the twenty-first century." Its deforested hills can no longer support its traditional logging-based economy, and each spring a third of its inhabitants travel-most of them illegally-to the U.S. to work, returning again for the town fiesta in the fall. The name of the ancient language that most residents still speak-Purepecha-actually means "a people who travel." Their medicine, music, religion, language, and family customs are a mixture of Indian traditions with Catholicism and modern globalization and, in highly colorful style, Martinez shows how this "negotiation of cultural identity continues to this day" on both sides of the border. At the fiesta, Martinez writes, "All of Cheran is spinning around me as I try to stand still." Reading his book feels a lot like that. It must be experienced.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A thoughtful, politically charged narrative of travel in a little-known but much-discussed American subculture. There are now, writes Pacific News Service editor and NPR correspondent Martinez, as many as seven million Mexican migrant laborers living in the US. A disproportionate number come from small, mostly Indian villages and towns in the state of Michoacan, such as the small city of Zamora. "No one," he writes, "believes that there's a future here, neither the big-time landowner nor the cholo. There's a past: this is where your folks were born, where the streets smell like childhood and the traditional fiestas are still celebrated more or less the way they were before the Conquest. But a future? The more Zamora is aware of the world beyond the little green valley . . . the more Zamora wants to shed its skin." It does so by sending its people, young and old, across the border, mostly illegally, where the hardships are many but the potential rewards-including citizenship for the lucky few and rates of pay that are princely by Mexican standards if unimaginably low to middle-class gringos-outweigh the risks. Martinez begins and ends his voyage in Michoacan, visiting with the mother of a large family most of whose members have crossed the line; three of her sons died after a cocaine-snorting smuggler crashed his truck while fleeing US Border Patrol agents. (By the end, she too will have left Zamora, for a new home in St. Louis.) Other points in his eventful narrative find Martinez at home in California, walking the Arizona desert, talking with farmhands in Texas shantytowns. He resists the temptation to moralize, instead writing plainly-but with obvious sympathy-for people moved byeconomic disaster to flee their homes for an uncertain new country that often seems to hate them but that needs them all the same. First-rate reporting on an important, controversial subject. Author tour

Product Details

Planeta Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Rubén Martínez es editor asociado del Pacific News Service y colaborador de Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, de PBS. Autor de The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond, también ha sido comentarista en Nightline, Frontline, y CNN. Nativo de Los Angeles, Martínez obtuvo la Loeb Fellowship 2001-2002 de la Graduate School of Design de la univerdidad de Harvard.

Rubén Martínez is an associate editor at Pacific News Service and a contributor to PBS's Religion & Ethics Newsweekly. The author of The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City, and Beyond, he has also appeared as a commentator on Nightline, Frontline, and CNN. A native of Los Angeles, Martínez has been appointed to the 2001-2 Loeb Fellowship at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

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