Roberto Munoz – Pt. 1

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English transcription of video:

Hi my name is Roberto Muñoz. I’ve been in the state of California since 1980. The reason why I came to this country was because in my town – I come from a town in the state of Guanajuato – and I used to see that a lot of people from the United States would come with very nice cars, nice sombreros [hats], nice boots, and dressed very elegantly. I was young and I would ask my dad, hey dad, where are these people coming from? These people have nice cars, they have good money, they have nice clothes, where are they from? Where are they coming from? All my dad would tell me was; oh son they’re coming from the north.

The north. The north. I would say. I was young, 10-12 years. As time went by, a cousin of my dad went, his name is Daniel, with a convertible Cadillac, a nice cowboy hat, cowboy boots, very elegant with his tie and… “Hey cousin how are you?” He tells my dad. And my dad tells him; “well here life is suffering.”

He said; “is this your son?”  That was me.

“Yes, it’s my son Beto,” my dad told him.

He says, “how are you Beto?” Shook my hand. He said, “when you’re big I’m going to take you to the north.”   I stayed waiting because he never remembered Beto. So in 1980, a group of people came together in the town…

We were going to the north. A woman with two children was coming, the children at the time must have been about 7 or 9 years old, a brother in law of the woman, myself, and another friend of ours. We left my town on bus toward Tijuana. We arrived in Tijuana after three days on the bus. It’s difficult to begin an adventure for which you don’t know if you’re going to arrive at your destiny, you don’t know what will happen along the way, you don’t know if your money will be enough, from which you have to buy food, you have to pay for the bus ticket, you have to pay hotel, but anyhow, we arrived in Tijuana. This was around November 20-22 of 1980.

We arrived and it was tremendously cold in Tijuana, Mexico. We connected with the coyote. The coyote says, “you know what, I’m going to charge you $375 [US Dollars], to take you to Los Angeles.” The woman’s husband lived in the Redwood City area. So we made the deal with the coyote.

We said, “okay you’re going to charge us $375, when do we leave?”

The coyote said, “today get some rest, shower, eat, try to rest as much as you can because tomorrow at dawn we leave.” So we took a shower and had a sandwich, which was mostly bread on bread, because there was not enough turkey, as we say in the U.S., there was no ham, there was no lettuce, there was no tomatoes, no mayonnaise; a bread, a ham, and another bread on top. And a coke, and let’s go. So we spent that night, and that evening, that night, at 2AM the coyote arrived to where we were staying. He says, let’s go. We left. We took a taxi that took us to one of the roads. We got off the road, everything was dark, only the crickets singing, the coyotes howling, and we heard so many noises. The coyote says, we’re leaving from here, and from here we’re going to start walking. We started walking to cross the border. We arrived at a place that was their connection, because more people were coming. So one of the coyotes had brought us. Another had brought a pregnant woman that was about eight months pregnant – her dream was for her son to be born in the United States – she was coming with a belly like this. Another woman was coming with a three-month old girl. Another two people were coming, women. And a man. They were five, and we were six, so we were 11 total and two coyotes. So we started walking, I remember it was about 1AM, and we started walking and walking. We crossed wire fences. It was more difficult for the pregnant woman because in the first place, she couldn’t walk with her big stomach. The woman who had the little girl didn’t have milk to give the baby.

The coyote was completely angry because the girl was crying and crying and crying at 2-3 in the morning, in the middle of the dessert. The coyote asks the woman; do you have a bottle to feed the girl? The woman says, yes but I don’t have milk. The coyote went and I don’t know from where he got water, he gave water to the girl, the girl drank a bit of water and fell asleep. So those of us who could help the woman with the girl would carry her. I remember I was wearing a jacket that in Mexico we call a sheep. It has a zipper and a lot of cotton inside. So I put one of the children inside.

I said, hang on to my neck, don’t let go, if you fall sleep, try to squeeze my neck so you don’t fall out. And with the other hand, I was helping the pregnant woman. We walked for six hours. We started walking at 1AM, they picked us up at 6 – 6:30AM. I remember we passed through an area that had lots of tomato plants. We didn’t have any food, didn’t have water, didn’t have milk for the baby, so what we did was – below the plants are the tomato balls – I remember that we took 2-3 tomatoes in my jacket so I could get some water or liquid to help me because it was terrible.

Six hours of walking and running, walking and running, it was too much. Some of my partners didn’t want to try the tomatoes because they thought they were poisoned. I said well okay, I can’t stand it anymore, I ate two tomatoes, I got a little bit more energy. We walked until 6:30 on the side of a road. I don’t know which road it was, but a truck came to get us. The coyote arrives with his contact, we got on to the van, all 12 of us got on, and we went directly to Los Angeles. In LA they told us, if you want to shower take a shower, but we didn’t have clothes. The socks, logically, you just flipped it inside out and wore it again, because you didn’t have more.

We arrived. The coyotes started contacting the people we were coming with. I remember the first to leave the group we were coming with was the pregnant woman, because her husband lived in LA. So she left, right after that the woman with the little girl left. Like that they started paying the $375 and they started to leave, we said goodbye, God bless you, and good luck, perhaps we’ll see each other some day, good luck with your baby, or son or whatever it’s going to be, because he’s going to be American. Yes, I’m talking about 1980; today he’s an American citizen because he had to be born well.

From Los Angeles, California, we went to Redwood City. We arrived in Redwood City on December 1st of the same year, of 1980. I arrived and said, well, this is Redwood City, this is the north, this is California, this the life that is lived here. Well…… to be continued…


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