UPROOTED AGAVE: Latino Immigrants’ Stories


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Publisher: Gades Books,  February 1, 2018

Paperback:  ISBN-13 978-0-9996677-0-5

Ebook : ISBN-13  978-0-9996677-1-2

248  pages




The stories in “Uprooted Agave” are haunting not just because of the way they describe the horrors of living in the US on the fringes—where dignity and livelihoods are threatened—but also because they capture the tragic realities of immigrants crossing and risking it all for their families and themselves. (LatinoStories.com) JOSE B. GONZALEZ, Co-Editor of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature


I served Chicago’s Latino communities for 33 years. Immigrants have shared their lives with me. Many are my friends. I needed to write about their stories, humbleness, goodness, and generosity. Their endured discrimination, defenselessness, abuse, and even slavery—often in the hands of their compatriots. I wanted to bear witness to those who enjoy their dream in prosperous suburbs and those who live through their worst nightmare in crime-ridden barrios.


How would you live as an undocumented Latino immigrant in the USA? What would you confront at the border? If you survive, what will you face? The thirteen stories in this book–10 fiction and three non-fiction–grab your imagination and transport you into this underground world Some provide a glimpse of the evils in their countries of origin that prompted their migration–dire poverty, crimes with total disregard from human life, endemic rampant corruption, no rules of law, no freedom. In the story Uprooted Agave, to protest his meager salary, a peasant stood before a cacique in the presence “of the large portrait of a president of Mexico, whose eyes basked in immortal greatness, the greatness of the office the public had granted him and the dignitary had forgotten the source.” Others describe the dangers of crossing the southern border. In Daydreaming on a Greyhound Bus, a gamin, a girl, her mother, and a coyote cross the deceitfully calm Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas, when the girl falls. “The boy releases himself, jumps into the water, clasps the girl against his body, and pulls her up. A maelstrom circles them, the vacuum sucking them into the depth.” Some stories recount the immigrants’ daily hard work and tenacity to achieve the American dream in spite of their lack of schooling, foreign language, and different culture. The Mayan Fighter describes this determination: “I cleaned empty cans of paint in a tank with 350 gallons of solvent. The intense odor caused headaches, nausea, and dry heaving. Two or three times a day, I wobbled to the restroom where vomiting erupted with a vengeance over and over. But nothing would make me quit my job.” The immigrants’ trials and tribulations come alive throughout the book. It describes the racism of some whites because of the newcomers’ Indian features. In The Rotten Yard, a white supervisor tells his Mexican subordinate, “Freeing the niggers was a big mistake. They don’t work and will destroy this country. Mexicans are the same, niggers disguised with sombreros.” Latinos also suffer slavery by some of their well-to-do compatriots who have imported this scourge into the US. In Whispering Waters, a housemaid lies in her small room in a mansion in Wilmette, Illinois, reminiscing about the day her master bought her in the Peruvian jungle: “She watched her father hold his tears back. Her blood seemed to have turned into ice, and her legs did not obey her. She kneeled down and asked him to bless her.” The author relates accounts of dreams fulfilled, people helping people, love and hope. In The Pledge, love blossoms in two youngsters in the midst of dilapidated buildings, gangs, death, and misery. The real story The United States Vs. Oscar Sosa exemplifies the weak laws that fail to protect even legal residents:  “The officers handcuffed him, read him the Miranda warning, and took him into a car amidst his protestations. ‘What have I done? This is an error. Please, let me go free.’ They provided him no reason for the arrest and whisked him off across the state line into a federal prison.” The book describes the success of many immigrants and the failure of others who end up living in crime-ridden barrios in worse conditions than in their home countries.

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