Monday, February 16, 2009

Los Tres Bloggeros: "Everybody Knows"

This post is 2nd in the "Los Tres Bloggeros" series in which Dada, eProf and I independently blog our own perspective on a common topic and post them simultaneously. Visit Dada and eProf for their perspective on Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows." The lyrics of the song are found at the end of this post.

"Everybody Knows"--the song electrified me. How have I never before heard it? But then again, would I have even listened to it before last year? An optimist and an idealist by both nature and nurture, I would perhaps have dismissed Cohan as an intellectual cynic.

What changed me?

About a year ago, I visited a tiny impoverished community on the very outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico--our sister city. I had heard about Lomas del Poleo and visited their website Paso del Sur. The once worthless desert wasteland on which these poorest people squatted until they earned their lot for huts [built of warehouse pallets covered with cardboard] now lay smack in the path of proposed international economic development interests. Big Money!

The richest family in all Northern Mexico--billionaires, I've heard--decided that Lomas del Poleo was really theirs. And to drive out the residents they launched an aggressive campaign:
  • Enclosing the area in barbed wire,
  • Requiring residents to pass a paramilitary gate-keeper to get to their property
  • Lying to residents about who turned over their land's deed, for how much money
  • Removing electricity from Lomas--uprooting the concrete poles, yanking meters & cable
  • Setting fire to a Lomas home and, in the process, burning two little children to death
  • Bulldozing their little church/chapel
  • Digging a trench around the federal public grade school, so it's hard for the kids to attend
  • Kidnapping and beatings of residents; home destructions
  • Using stalling tactics to postpone a Mexican court decision on the case
I've never had a front row seat on oppression and injustice this blatant in my life. And it's located only ten miles from where I live and sleep. I was one of the last people to enter their community. No one gets past the guards now.

"Everybody Knows" this is how the world took me almost all my life to catch on. In fact, I still refuse to believe it. Were it not for international attention, Lomas del Poleo would be toast by now.

Amnesty International issued a public action appeal on behalf of Lomas last month. This is HUGE! With their help...with YOUR help, perhaps some justice can triumph.

I cling to ideals, but they are slipping from my grasp. Please help.

Click this AI link, scroll to the end and choose just ONE person to write or fax. [You can choose them all, but "Everybody Knows" I'll be pretty lucky if you choose even one!]
Directions are clear: what to say and how to send or fax it.
Email a copy to Foro Lomas del Poleo at

Or don't do anything... And settle for the world that "Everybody Knows."


an average patriot said...

That was really good! Trust me Everybody Knows but we do not matter! That is life, like it or not we can try to stop it but it happens!

Border Explorer said...

James, if anyone understands "Everybody Knows," YOU do. But, man, you blog and you write like you DO matter. And, strangely enough, your belief that you DO matter, makes a difference! Thanks for commenting!

Dada said...

Great, great post on Lomas, B.E. Awake in the wee hours last night, I heard something about the imminent global financial collapse .... something like, "We can't afford to let the banks, Wall Street security houses, huge mortgage lenders and insurance interests fail, but we can't afford to save the little people."

Who would have ever thought some of the most worthless land in the El Paso/Juarez area 30 years ago that nobody wanted, save for some "squatters" (that is, homesteaders) would end up smack in the middle of some of the most *prized* real estate in the path of a new trans-nat'l commerce trailway and industrial park?

That the people inhabiting the land with legal rights to it under Mexican law are being stalled off by the Mexican court in their attempt to legally claim what is theirs as a billionaire with his hired thugs works outside the law, devouring the Lomas del Poleo like a terminal cancer?

Thanks again for informing us all!

mmlindsey said...

Right on, B.E.! I had no idea about Lomas and I am thankful for this post.

Man, it is so tempting to give up especially when I get slapped from every angle and perspective that I turn;economy woes, war, death, etc, and then I am faced with my own idealism and find myself wondering, "what the hell can I do anyway?"

I have had to 'let go' so many times, some days more than others, but I refuse to give in to fear. Alone, I cannot do much, but with God and with people like you, I am empowered to truly make a difference.

I am editing a letter that Misty and I are sending to the mayor of Juarez. I will e-mail it to you when we are finished with it.

P.S. I really dig Leonard Cohen. Have you seen the documentary about him? ( it is really worth seeing. Great post!

Mauigirl said...

Thanks for publicizing this terrible situation.

"Everybody Knows" is a great song - I first heard it sung by a folk group called The Washington Squares about 15 years ago and it really struck me.

eProf2 said...

BE, I had no idea that you would be tying Lomas with Cohen, but you managed to tell the blogosphere about their struggle in a world of indifference, the opposite polar of "everyone knows." I really liked the "intellectual cynic" line. We're all cynics, some more than others, and some cynics are constructive cynics who by seeing things through a glass darkly try to let the rest of us know that there is hope. You'll have to listen to more of Cohen to get into his head and to see his great sense of religiousity and his sense of beauty and harmony and love of life, not it's destruction. I enjoyed our triple blogging today and the insights each of us brought to bear on the modern condition of people. You and Dada will have to decide our next topic and when we want to blog on it. Paz, mi amiga!

Border Explorer said...

Dada: Thanks for the additional info in your comment--very enriching to this post. Loved sharing this blog action with you and eProf!

Matt: Thanx for the Lomas letter AND for the Cohen recommendation. I'll watch it.

Mauigirl: I've heard that group on the radio. Glad you appreciated learning about Lomas.

eProf: Great, insightful comment-response! I married a professional skeptic, btw--a liberation theologian is cynical by definition. First cousin to a cynic? I loved doing this with you and Dada. It'll be hard to equal "Everybody Knows" for a blogging concept. Thanks!

Fran said...

Do you ever just feel so overwhelmed by it all?

I am reeling that Obama is escalating wars- bombing Pakistan & surging troops into Afghanistan- just 3 weeks into his presidency.

I feel like my capacity for atrocity is saturated.

The tres bloggeros concept is cool- you all went to very different places.

Ingrid said...

I"m so glad this is your focus and you do it well with the personal exposure and experience of traveling to S. America etc. Sometimes, for some people, the scales come off suddenly and they are surprised at the state of reality, not the dream they've been presented. At least you've awakened to all that you saw AND are doing something about it. So many people feel hopeless, disillusioned and turn their heads in order to pretend that hopelessness in their hearts go away..

Brava BE,



D.K. Raed said...

Everybody knows that you have the biggest heart, B.E. -- and you have a way of galvanizing action instead of sitting on the sidelines!

ps, I bet there are lots of Cohen songs you've heard over the years because he is often covered by others. Like "Suzanne" (who takes you down to the river and touches your perfect body with her mind)! A good place to start is with "The Essential Leonard Cohen", a 2-CD set of his classics. I just love his deep reflective voice.

Border Explorer said...

Fran--great comment! Yes. Yes. Yes.

Ingrid, you hit a nerve for me with your comment. I am bitterly disappointed in my education which covered up so much reality with dis-information. But, I'm determined not to give in and I keep "preaching" what I'm learning to be true. Thanks much for your affirming words!

D.K., thank you for a beautiful affirmation! You're so great. I'll have to look up that Cohen set.