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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  August 21, 2019 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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[c[captionining made possible b democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now. >> over the years i put over 900 cross this is year. i wanted to treat everybody with the same, you know, respect and dignity. so i wasn't very concerned with the names or what they weree identified or not. i was just wanting to put the cross there to o celebratate th honor, to celebrarate the coura of someone who came here looking
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for what i came here looking for 50 years ago, opportunity. amy: where dreams die. since 2001, the bodies an bones of more than 3,000 people, nearly all migrants, have been found in the treacherous so norian desert in arizona. today we speak with an artist who has placed over 9 900 cross in the desert to honor the migrants w who have lost their lives. then we look at the mounting crisis in kashmir, two weeks after india revoked the special status of the indian controlled part of the mum limb majority region. -- muslim majority region. >> for 12 days we have been locked inside our houses. we cannot get out of our homes, get medicine. we have small children anti-can't buy anything for them. amy: we'll go to new delhi, india, to speak with a leadidin femmee any a activist who recen returned from a fact-finding
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mission in kashmir. all that and more coming up. ♪amy: welcome to democracy now,, the war a peace report. i'm amy goodman. in brazil, public outrage is mounting over massive wildfires that has consumed parts of the amazon for several weeks. the #prayforamazonia trended tuesday as images of the raging blazes circulated on social media. the skies over the city of sao paulo went dark for around an hour d during the middle of the day monday, after winds carried in smoke from the foforest fires ovover 1,500 miles away. the fires are thought to be directly caused oror exacerbated by agricululral activivity and deforestation. brazil's space research has recorded nearly 73,000 wildfires do far this year -- an 83% increase from the same period last year. far-right brazilian president
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jair bolsonaro has worked to deregulate and open up the amazon for agribusiness, logging and mining since he came into office in january, despite international concerns over the environmental impacts of deforestation. recent data shows that brazil lost more than 1,300 square miles of forest cover this year. climate scientists say the protection of the amazon rainforest is crucial in the global effort to fight clilimate change. according to multiple reports, the trump administration's expected t to announce new rule allowing authorities to detain migrant children for longer periods of time and in potentially even more dangerous conditions. the white house is reportedly planning to terminate the 1997 flores agreement which limits the locking up of migrant children and families to 20 days before they must be released or transferred to a licensed care
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facility. the trump administration has blamed the flores agreement for driving the family separation policy by creating an immigration loophole which brought more families into the u.s. to seek asylum. the-i grant rights and legal services organization call the expected move cruel beyond imagination. in more imimmigration news, customs and border protection said it will not vaccinate migrant families ahead of the upcoming flu season. doctors recently sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to investigate health conditions at migrant jails along the border after they say at least three children have died from the flu. the septemberers for disease control and prevention recommends annual flu shots for everyone over the ages of 6 months. this comes as multiple lawsuits chalenging conditions for child migrants have or will soon be filed. a class action lawsuit was filed in california monday accusing the government of denying
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adequate food, medical care, and other basic necessaryities to migrant prisoners in i.c.e. facilities. the suit says the dire conditions inside the migrant jails amount to torture and highlights the mistreatment of people with disabilities. the southern poverty law center, one of the groups that filed the suit, said imprisoned immigrants are at risk of illness, discrimination on the basis of disability, and arbitrary imposition of solitary confinement as a result of i.c.e.'s reliance on mass incarceration and indifference to the conditions in the prison, unquote. meanwhile, a joint investigation by the associated press and pbs' frontline reveals dozens of families separatated at thee southernrn bordeder are getting ready to sue the government over claims that young children were sexualally, physically, and emotionally abused while in federally fundnded foster care.
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in i internationalal news. ththe president t is r rigning. he made thennouncement t ter thee deputy pririme minister r salvini removed support. and called for ao confidedence votete. onte took aim at salvini as he aaddreressed the parliamenent. >> it's clear who is responsible for the government crisis, if they lack courage, no problem, i will assume t this is the only conclusion, only necessary transparent and coherentntnd linear conusion. thank you very much. amy: the outgoing prime minister conte headed to the presidential palace to formamay suit h resignanation. in a a new majoritity coalition cannot b bformed to run the governmement, the presidentntil likely call for e ely elections. while political a analysts say salvinii is ununlikely to aacacd
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to t the premiererhip, it coulul gain more popor has his popularity continues to grow in italy. in other news in italy, m migras aboaoard a ship after authoriti were ordered to seize andnd evacuate t the ship. the open arms ship declared a state of "humanitarian emergency" over the weekend as around 100 migrants were stranded on the ship after italy refused to let them dock. some passeseers jumpeded overbod in recent dadays, including at least 15 people tuesday,y, attempted to swim to shore before being picked upup and rereturned to the vesselel. president trump has canceled and pcoming state visit to denmark upcoming trip to denmark ovever
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the country's refusal to discuss selling greenland to the united states. on sunday, trump confirmed to reporters his interest in purchasing the autonomous danish territory and did not rule out trading a us territory for the island. trump said, essentially it's a arge real estate deal. danish politicians expressed disbelief over trump's sudden cancellation of the state visit. the prime minister called his idea to purchase greenland absurd. she told reporters, thankfully the time where you buy and sow other countries and populations is over. a former business minister asked on twitter, are parts of the u.s. for sale? alaska? please show more respect, he said. on monday, trump tweeted a photo of shiny gold trump skyscraper photoshopped on to an image of a greenland town and wrote, i promise not to do this to greenland. trump is said to be interested in greenland's abundant national resources and geopolitical
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importance. but it's also at the center of the climate crisis. earlier this month greenland's ice sheet experienced its largest single day melt in history. in july, the hottest month ever recorded, greenland's ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice, the equivalent of around 80 million olympic swimming pools. experts say that in addition to rising sea levels around the world, the receding ice could expose toxic nuclear waste left at us military sites during the cold war. president trump is ramping up his attacks on congress members rashida t talib and ilhan omar after israel barred them from entering the countntry at trump urging. yesterday trump mocked congress memberer talib for crying durina news conference while speaking ababout her grandmother who she wouldn't get to see. israel granted talib permission to visit her family in the occupied west bank on humanitatarian grounds, , but o
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on the conditionon she notot pre the boycott divestment and sadgeses movement. she rejected the offffice. he alslso attackekejewish americans s to voted for democratic party. he spoke to reporters from the oval office during the visit with a president of romania. president trump: where has the democratic party gone? where have they done where they are defending these two people over the state of israel? i thihi any jewish people that vote for a democrat, i think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty. amy: senator bernie sanders responded to trump's remarks on twitter saying, let me say to the president, i am a proud jewish person and i have no concerns about voting democratic. and in fact, i intend to vote for a jewish man to become the next presidedent of the united states, sanders said. a group of 2020 presidential candidates addressed inbeginning us in communities he at the first ever native american
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presidential forum i in siouxux city, iowa t this week. 99-year-old u.s.s. army nurse orps from the cheyenne tribe asked sanders if he would back thee remove the stain act, whic aims to revoke the 2020 congressionanal medals of honor given to soldiers whwho participated i in the 1890 massacre at woundeded knee that killeded hundreds of indigigeno people. many of whom were women and children. presidential hopeful sanders said he would back the act. >> medals of honor, they are very rare. and they are given to people who show great, great bravery. massacring women and children is not an act of great bravery. it is an act of depravity. amy: president trump is backing away from supportining new gun control measures after the mass shootingings indayton ohio and el paso texas earlier this month, trump called for lawmakers to unite and pass
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new background check laws but in a call with nra head wayne lapierre tuesday, he reportedly assured him "universal background checks were off the table". trump p instead is heavilyly shifting t the focus on mentntal illness as the m main caususe on violence despite data demonstrating people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators. democrats are increasingly calling for a ban on assault weapons as part of comprehensive gun reform. in related news, the el paso mass shooter who killed 22 people has been placed on suicide watch. he told authorities he was "targeting mexicans" when he attacked shoppers at a walmart near the mexican border. at least 26 people have been arrested after threatening to commit mass attacks since the el paso and dayton shootings at the start of the month that killed 23 p people, including the dayt gunman. two members of the proud boys were convicted in new york city
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monday for assaulting ant-i fascist protestors during a street fight last year after the event of the republican club. eight other people were arrested in connection with the fight in which members of the far right group were caught on camera physically assaulting the anti-fascist protestors. maxwell and john will be sentenced in october. to see our discussion of the proud boys and their rally in portland, oregon, this past weekend, you can go to president trump said he's considering "various tax reduction, including payroll tax cuts." trump and white house officials have dismissed concerns of a possible recession despite economist's warnings of an upcoming down turn. trump says tax cuts is something he's always submit shifting. he shifted blame to china during the e trade war which is causin uncertainty in the markets.
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political analysts say white house advisorsrs and republican politicians arare becoming increasingngly concerned that a weakening economy will hurt trump and the republicanan parts odds in the 2020 election. a new york, connecticut, and vermont sued monday to block trump's public charge rule. trump announced the new measure last week which penalized documented low income immigrants who seek benefits. including medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers, by allowiwing officials to deny grn cards and visa applications to those individuals. the lawsuit argues the new rule quote deliberately discriminates against latinos and immigrants of color and is part of an ongoing effort to quote "reduce the populalation of permanent residents of color in the united ststates". this is new york attorney general letitia james. >> thehe rule penalizes immigras for t their use of vital, nonca benefit programs. anand again, thehese are progra desisigned to encocourage upwar
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mobilityity, promomote self-sufficiency, and reduce homelessnessss, poverty,, and h cost e emergency room visits. amy: and those are some of the headlines this is democracy now,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the bodies and bones of more than 3,000 people, nearly all migrants, have been found since 2001. in the treacherous so norian desert in ararizona. recent changnges have divererte more m migrants to deadly portis of the u.s.-mexico border, including the treacherous arizona desert. in june, the body of a 6-year-old sikh girl from india was found in the remote area of the so norian desert one mile forth from the u.s.-mexico border in the oregon pipe cactus national monument.
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she was the senth fatality at the border this year. she's one of thousands of people whose remains have been found in the desert. summer months are often the deadliest. the peak of her death, the extreme heat reached a emperature of 108 degrees. ggurupreet crossed the border with her mother and sister to attempt with her father who had been in the united states since 2013 and s seeking asylum. she died of heat stroke after she became separate interested her mother who is desperately searching for water. days after her death, the sikh community in tucson, arizona, held a memorial for her. they also reached out to local artist, alva ron -- alvaron and asked him to create a marking
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with an ancient sikh symbol to honor her and make visible the exact area where the little girl lost her life. he has built over 900 unique crosses. every week, he drives and hikes to the exact locations where migrants' remains have been found in the desert and places a cross there to honor their lives an make visible theieir d death that are so often ignored. on sunday, democracy now headed to his home in westst tucson an asked him about the death of grurafreet. >> i'm going to go there as soon as the weather gets nicer because it's a hard to get to place. i'm going to put a cross for her and the sikh society here, the sikh community here is going to
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give me a sikh symbol that i will put on the cross. an ancient adding sikh symbol to this cross of like a christian symbol but in reality itit's a marker. that bugs the hell out of me. i just cannot get it out of my system. i guess the only way -- to go there and put a cross and spend time there and think about this death. this poor girl who died there, who didn't come on her own. she was brought here by her family. and she never made it out of the desert. so this is a bigtime death for me to deal with. amy: he said that her mother ultimately found her daughter by seeing the vultures circling
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overhead. this past saturday morning, we joined alvaro enciso in the altar valley desert, a 30-minute drive southwest of tucson, to the site where four immigrants were killed in a car accident years ago as they fled from order patrol agents. enciso, who is from colombia, spoke about what inspired his ongoing project where dreams die. he says this is a project he'll never finish as the actual number of migrant deaths in the arizona border are unknown and as tens of thousands of migrants flee their home countries every year to embark on an uncertain and perilous journey to o the united states. we spoke as we walked. >> this area is called the artar cal veil because we have the mountains in this direction and mountains in this direction. the migrants use this area here
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to go from south to north. from mexico, which is about 40 iles this way. they use the electric poles as a navigational point. they are not far from the paved road in case they don't feel well and come out to the road and hope someone will pick them up. whether border patrol -- at one point you know you cannot walk anymore, that's it. so this is one of those -- it's t a heavily used as much anymore because too many border patrol and too many helicopters and too many things here. came in here you saw some tires from the ground, the border patrol usess those tires to dra them to clear the road. they come back and see any tracks, then they know that migrants have come through here. so they start looking for them, but now the migrants carry these
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booties made out of pieces of rug, pieces of carpet and they clear -- amy: you're saying the border patrol smooths these sandy paths so they can see their footprints? >> yeah. amy: so some of the migrants wear carp snet >> just about all of them. these booties that have carpet under. on the bottom. amy: so you can't see the footprints. >> it sweeps a sweeper, pretty much. amy: what is this area? >> the altar valley. we are close to tucson. ththe idea is t that the more m you have to pay the coyote, the less you walk. the less money, the more you ave to walk.
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if you have money there you will walk to tucson which is this road and they'll get picked up there. the idea is you'll get picked up after the checkpoint. if you don't have enough money, you have to walk another 100 miles, 80 miles to interstate 8 which is the road that goes to san diego. the jurisdiction of the border patrol now is 100 miles. not just the border. it's 100 miles in into the u.s. you have to walk at least 100 patrol be out of jurisdiction. then i.c.e. takes over. it's always a layer and layer and layers of people. so you have to live in the shadows. amy: what kind of cactus are they? >> the ones you neneed to worry about are these, the jumping chollas, they jump at you when they feel any kind of warmth. amy: talk about what that means
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for a migrant. >> at night you will go o right ininto one o of those and you g hundreds of those things and cannot remove them. then they get infected. in two, three days you are infected. the infection debilitates your body. and the lack of water and everything. then you just -- under a true, take a break. but you don't get up. that's howow we find them. sitting there under a tree. amy: rattlesnakes? >> the rattlesnakes. you know, there are about seven species of rattlesnakes here in southern arizona. at night they are very active. they bite you and that's the end. you -- who is going to take you to the hospital? you lose your leg. depending on the kind of snake there is. amy: this happens to not only
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migrants in the desert but to be safe they want to start moving at night and that makes it very, very dangerous. >> yes. and,d, you know, in the old day they used to carry this regular gallons of water. now, that water reflects at night. soso they started paintg them with paint black. using shoe polish. then people in mexico started making them. now you blie black water bottles that do not reflect any light.. however, black doesn't reflect light so the water gets very, very hot. so you are drinking water, they are 130 degrees. you don't drink as much because it doesn't taste right. you start dehigh hydrating. amy: at night you have the danger of the rattlelesnakes an cactus. you have the danger of falling. >> yes.
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and also the border patrol is more active at night. this is what they really start thee day. at night. everytything in the desert is o to get you. evererything has thorns and -- when i ask people to go with me, i alwaysys tell them to wear lo sleeve shirts and long pants. and not expose your body. everything is out there to stab you in some way. amy: at night it's hard to see if there is a cliff, if there is a rock that you trip over and break a bone. >> absolutely. there is a lot of injuries here. twisted sank ankle, twisted -- twisted ankle, twisted bone that you prackture. that kills you. blisters kill you. little things like that. amy: explain. >> you have blisters, in order to hike all day long, you have to change your socks every day.
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but most of these people who come here, they don't do this kind of hiking. this is sort of like -- they tell them it's only going to be a day but turns out to be seven days. you start getting blisters. and the blisters get untreated and they become wounds and you can't walk. so you get abandoned. they leave them a little water but it's not enough for you to survive. you hope that someone will come and rescue. that's why we have this groups here like samaritans and normal guys who walk the trails, putting water out there and looking for anybody that may need assistance in some way. so these are the remnants of migration, the gear that they -- amy: a shirt or cloth. >> yeah. a shirt most likely.
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amy: yes, it was a shirt. >> you die here and don't last long because the animals will get at you very quickly. in matter of two weeks you disappear. parts.mals begin to grab the vultures. you can see they are nice and fat. i put the first cross here about six years ago. but at the time i was n not ver experienced withth the g.p.s. a i didn't realize that there were three other people at that location. so once i started revisitting some of the sites and looking at maps and looking at my data, then it came up three other people had died here. i cam back not too long ago and put three crosses. now this side is complete. a croross for each one of them.
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one guy was 17. the other was 19. young people. you shouldn't be dying at that age. you are too young. amy: where were they from? >> i think mexico and guatemala if i recall correctly. they used to come here economic reasons. trying t to find a life for themselves and their family. but now the american dream is no longer a plan. they are fleeing violence. they are fleeing for their lives. they are fleeing from all kinds of things. even climate change. if you are subsistance farmer and buy seeds and put them in the ground, that's once a year, you get wiped outut. so what do you do? you head north. as tucsoson artist alvaron we walk together in the so norian desert. when we return we sit down in front thee of four the more tha
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900 crosses he's created to honor migrants who died in the so norian desert. he calls his project, where dreams die. [music break]
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amy: the black shadow. this is democracy now, democracy the war and peace report as we continue our series, death and resistance on the u.s.-mexican border. i'm amy goodman. on sunday, we accompanied tucson artist alva ron -- alvaron, to the site where he installed four unique crosses to honor the unique lives of four migrants who died in the so norian desert. in this case they were fleeing border patrol. he has built and installed over 900 crosses. rather than religious symbols, he views his crosses as markings that make visible deaths that are often ignored. the bodies and bones of more than 3,000 people, nearly all
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migrants, have been found since 2001. in the treacherous conditions of the so noron desert in arizona. but it's believed the total number of deaths could be as high as 10,000. enciso. n is alvaro >> we are here at a location where four migrants were found dead some years back. these migrants died on the same day, they died all together here. they were trying to get away from the border patrol. they were in a van and the van and rolled over and tumbled hey were collected here with multiple injuries, head injuries, i learned of this site about six years ago when i started putting crosses out here. at the time when i saw the red dot i thought it was going to be just one person. i left it at that. amy: that's where you built your first cross? >> this is one of my early
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crosses. this is very early alvaro, this is right when i got started. amy: that was one person. you talked about a red dot. where did this red dot come from? > when i first came to tucson, and i took this training -- the first thing they did they show you this map of southern arizona with thousands of red dots on it. i guess when you are a visual artist you react to a certain thing. that red dot immediately caught my attention because this red dot represented a location where someone lost his or her life. who at the end of an american dream happened to someone. this was the -- so i decided to go to this actual locations because the map is a map. it's not a territory. the red dots are an abstraction
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on a map. i wanted to come here where the people are collected out of here, put in bags and taken to the morgue. amy: who was the first person that you built a cross for, the red cross? >> well, i don't have the names of these people. over the years i put over 900 crosses here. to me at t the timee they were i don't want to say generic, but i wanted to treat everybody w wit the same respect and dignity. . so i wasn't very concerned with the names or what they were identified or not. i was just wanting to put the cross there to celebrate the honor, to celebrate the courage of someone who came here looking for what i came here looking for 50 years ago, that opportunity. amy: how did you learn the
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stories of these four migrants? >> well, again there is a database that is public. but the database is limited. you get the name and the age and the place of origin. and that it was, in this case, multiple injuries, head injuries, and chest injuries due to a car accident. and that's all i know. amy: describe how you came up with the idea, and who was the first person that you honored? >> i was looking for a way to mark locations where the american dream ended for someone. and i was trying to avoid the cross because the cross had enough baggage already. and i wanted to think of migration as a universal thing
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that it happens all over the world. and i didn't want to use the christian symbol because it would limit the vision of people -- when people saw though crosses immediately, christianity c comes to o mind. i wanted to -- need it to be bigger than that. so i was struggling with what -- how to mark the locations. and i tried different things, it didn't work. but then i started paying more attention to the cross and i learned that the cross was used as an instrument of death during the roman times. the romans built the structures to kill people. they hung them out there in the sun without any water until they died. ththey wanted to make it as painful as possible. so people will see that you don't [b[beep] the roman empire. that this is the price. and this is exactly what is
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happening here. people are dying because they don't have any water and there is no shade and out in the sun until they die. and i was also using this very simplistic geometric equation where there is a vertical line, horizontal l line, and t they m somewhwhere and the vertical fo me represented being alive, you know. because when we are alive we are erect. upright. when we are dead we are usually horizontal. that's how they bury us, in a horizontal manner. the two lines meet someone at ne point in space o over time. and when that encounter takes place, i was trying to give a twist to the biblical story of david and goliath, who david wins the encounter. in this case david loses the encounter because david in this poor person from
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latin america who meets a giant from the north with all the encounters nd deadly. for david, goliath alls wince. amy: where the vertical meets the horizontal, you have -- you always make an image or talk about these kind of icon, you have in the middle, that's different for every cross. >> yes. i wanted the crosses to be as unique as possible, but to have something that bring them together. and d i used ththe red dot that found on the map. so i'm bringing the red dot into the desert where the actual tragedy took place. amy: the red dot of a migrant. >> yeah.
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the red dot you see on the map you see it on the crosses. the crosses are the container to bring the red dot here. amy: can you talk about the pregnant woman who was making her way along the border here in the so norian desert? >> i learned about that case a while ago. it was a baby who was born by the side of the road and died by the side of the road. and the fact that baby was born on the side of the road, that made him an american automatically. he was born in this country. but he didn't have the opportunity to die. he died there. and the mothther wouldn't know what happened. she got deported somewhere. when i saw that case, i said, geez, do i have to make a special cross for this baby, or do i need to do something with it? and i finally got enough courage to go there and put the c cross for this bababy. it affected me bigtime -- big
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time. how could a baby die here? ,o i came and put a cross there and then i told people i had put a cross s for a baby. and then little by little people started bringing toys and started writing poems and became a big shrine. and everybody that came here will have to stop there anand he a picture taken with this cross became the iconic symbol of this tragedy here. but one day the cross disappear. it was gone. then everybody started calling me about, the cross is no longer there. we need the cross because the cross is now - -- now we don't have anything to -- the symbol that represented this whole thing. so i went back and built another one. so that was the second generation cross. now it's full of toys again. and now there are people who
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maintain the area. they pull the weeds and - -- amy: alvaro, you also find bones in the desert. >> i find bones and dead bodies. because i walk areas that are so remote where migrants die because that's the way it is here in this desert. amy: talk about working with the pima county medical examiner , how you find the link between the bones or the dead body in the desert and the family that has somehow made it known that their loved one is gone? >> sometimes i work with the center for human rights. they work together with the office of the medical examiner. they see me on television, or read an article about me. so i get a call or email from a family that they want me to put a cross. a couple years ago there was a
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family from peru, the woman, a woman from peru, disappeared here. and no one knew what happened to her. and then one day a skull was found, the cranium was found. it took a couple yearars to identify the cranium, and this were finally able to make the connection. amy: d.n.a. connection. >> yeah, d.n.n.a. connection. so the family, her two daughters and her husband, came and i put a cross for them. itit was a magical moment. things don't happen inin my project, it's always an none minimumity. -- anonymity. anand that was very, very speci to be able to o have the family there and me putting a cross for her. and -- those are rare moments
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that. i got an email recently from a woman who wants me to put a cross for her father. i said, i'll do that when n i ce back from colombia. i'll do that. and they asked me, how much do i charge for this kind of service? i saiaid, no. i i don't asask for m money. this is whatat i do. this is my work. in the beginning, some of the dead sites from the early 2000, we knew most o of the names because people carried i.d.'s. they carried some kind of information. and because they were found not too far from the roads. but now people do not carry any form of i.d. because if you carry i.d. that exposes you to exstorgs from -- extortion from organized crime. they can call your family and ask for money. kidnap you.
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what good is an i.d. from guatemala or el salvador or honduras. it doesn't do good. it shows you as an illegal person here. i say illegalal but that's not good word. trying to be somebody life. there is nothing illegal about that. amy: will you go on building these crosses? >> for as long as i can. the objective of the project has alreadady been -- the statement has been made. that the crosses are here in the desert. the 3,000 people have died. and whole bunch missing. but for me going out every tuesday has become my meditation, my going to church, my -- i'm not a believer. i'm not -- i don't follow any religion or anything.
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but this gives me the opportunity to connect with whatever spiritual thing is happening here. so this is my -- this has become partrt of my life. amy: tucson artist alvaro encisco, he was originally born in colombia. he has created more than 900 crosses to honor migrants who have died in the sonoran desert. he calls his project where dreams die. special thanks to our democracy now desert team. maria, livey, trina, john, and dennis. go to democracy now! to see more of our series death and resistance on the u.s.-mexico border. including our report monday on the no more deaths volunteers who drop water in the desert to save migrants. one of them, scott warren, faces
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10 years in jail. back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: bad, crazy sun by sidewinders, a band from tucson,
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arizona. his is democracy now!. as we turn to part two of our conversation with two new york state legislators, state senator biaggi, and new york assembly member, new, who helped pass the child victims act in new york. the state law, which went into effect exactly one week ago last wednesday, extends the statute of limitations on child sexuaua abuse and incluludes a look bac period giving survivors of any age a year to take legal action, even if their cases had expired under the old statute of limitations. well over 500 lawsuits have already been filed in this first week. both legislators are sexual abuse survivors themselves and have spoken about the importance of the child victims act in personal terms.
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i began by asking new york state senator biaggi, how it feels to be able to pass legislation that will help so many people. >> it makes me -- it makes me feel a lot of different emotions. first of all it is very surreal. nd every time i speak about it it brings back and reopens part memory i wish i could forget but staysys with m forever, but at the same time the more that i speak about it, the more that i'm able to use what has happened to me to help others and to speak about what people can do, the less pain that i feel it is a privilege to be able to transform trauma into real action that will help, we know, will help hundreds if not
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thousands of people across the state of new york. i would be remiss if i didn't say how grateful i ham to the senate sponsor, as well as assembly woman rosenthal. the two fought very powerful currents, institutions and triumphed. >> we also have to mention marge who was one of the first sponsors in the assembly. >> you shared your experience, as you mentioned, in part, one of our interview, of being a survivor of child sexual abuse when you voted in favor of the in jajanuary. ct > can i still smell him. i can still feel whatat he felt like. i tell peoeoe in my confererenc lastst year whwhen we were abou speak k on the billl about new experirience.
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but i think it's s not somethini like to briring up bebecause ito horrible andnd so traumatitic o experience t to me. to many o of the other victctim it's really, reaeally hardrd to bring g up, it's hard to talk abouout it foror many, many rea. i really can't't stop shaking. so i just wawant to let yoyou g know your v vote is so importan to me. so important t to the victitim. thank you u so much. amy: you speaking about this bill and your support for it. this act. what kind of response did you receive to your testimony? >> one of the hardest things i think is that so many folks, i talked about it with senator biaggi, so many folks are reaching out and telling us about their stories. we have been hearing so many people have been silenced for so long. and i think that that's one of the things that is so
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significant. that just in one day we saw hundreds of people -- they were ready to talk. and our laws were ready to listen and weren't. that's really significant that we made these changes in a time were long course they overdue. before folks pass away. before folks couldn't have a chance to speak up anymore. >> explain again what people can do right now, now that the child victims act has passed, what is the time line, no matter when the abuse happened, this is only if you live in new york state? or if your perpetrator is in new york state? >> if the act happened in new york state. the perpetrator doesn't have to live here anymore. but they can still be held accountable. >> you don't have to live here. >> you don't have to live here
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anymore. ifif this has happened in new yk state, then this is something that you can bring to the courts. new york state courts have jurisdiction over what happened to you. for the one year, look back period, starting yesterday, as of yesterday, we have one year ling in august 14 of next year to be able to hold people accountable. it doesn't matter what age you are. amy: let's go to state senator biaggi, her t testimony, how w prefaced her vote in favor of the child victims act in january. speaking about her own trauma. >> i am a sexual abuse survivor, and this bill is incredibly important to me. the shame that abused -- abuse creates turns oftentimes into silence. without a system that encourages and protects victims who share their experiences, the trauma man fests into many different
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forms. for me the silence lasted for 25 years. it is almost unthinkable i could stand here as a new york state senator to speak about something that i thought i would probably take to my grave. to the survivors and advocates, but mainly to the survivors of these heinous acts, the act of terror you have endured does not make you less human, you are worthy of a world that respects your body and your being, and at the very least include legal redress for what you have endured. as a member of this body, of the new york state senate, i am proud to vote aye, madam president, thank you very much. amy: that's new york state senator biaggi. prefacing her vote for this really revolutionary law that's been -- has been passed in the legislature. signed off on. has gone into effect as of yesterday. tell us about what it felt like
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to describe your own experience, both of you did, and what happened in this legislature both senate where you are, and n the house? did you coordinate this? >> we did not coordinate it. it felt very liberating, but also very sad. i think that every time that i speak about it, it makes me angry -- less angry each time. i think there is an underestimation how much child sexual abuse affects a life. i know from the rest of my life i am on this earth, this will be something that affects the way i interact with others. my relationships, the way i think and feel about myself. there are issues of self-worth and confidence. i think if you are looking at me and where i am right now, you are looking at the video thinking how could she possibly be worried about confidence? it's real. it's a very real thing.
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you live with it every single day. when i spoke about what happened to me as a child, i had no idea that at the same exact moment in the assembly, just down the hall in a different chamber, there were three women speaking about their abuse. the significance of that is not made all because i think before i was speaking, if someone said you feel lonely in this feeling? no, i don't. i feel like i have spoken about it. i have my family surrounding me. at the time my fiance now husband supporting me and doing this and with me on my journey to heal. but when i learned they had found about it as well, i assemblywoman cruz, assemblywoman nyu. there is really less darkness in my life now because of these other three women who have spoken about it.
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the fact we were all able to come together and have really, again, it's transforming this pain into something that is actionable. makes it less of a purd, although still a burden, but less of a burden and also allows us to focus on the action of the spread awareness so everybody in the state of new york who is ffected by this knows. amy: what was the institutional response. you grew up a catholic. clearly the catholic church has to be quaking right now in new york. >> yes. the institutional response, i think, previously, there was a fight i think even up to bringing this bill to the floor. i mentioned this in the earlier segment which is that the catholic church in new york had spent $2.1 million lobbying against the child victims act.
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$2.1 million at a time when new yorkers have a housing need, are food insecure. are you kidding me? that is so outrageous. i will say that when i spoke up, my colleagues in the senate on both sliles were incredibly supportive. some members shared with me that they also had been abused as children. that was a very unexpected thing to have happen. and i think just me speaking gave them the opportunity, or at least again the space to be able to say, oh, that happened to me, too. and also this is what sex, child sexual abuse looks like. it doesn't have one face. it looks like myself. an assemblywoman cruz, and other individuals, there is not one face of child sexual abuse. it was important to make sure that was very clear because we want everyone to know what it looks like and what they can do.
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amy: new york state senator biaggi and new york assembly member ngyu who helped pass the child victims act. the new york state law extends the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. it is believed that nearly 1,000 lawsuits have been filed since last wednesday. when the law went into effect. also, we plan to have an update on the crisis in - myrrh later in the week. that does it for our broadcast. democracy now is produced by mike burke, deena guzder, nermeen shaikh, carla wills, tami woronoff, libby rainey, sam alcoff, john hamilton, robby karran, hany massoud, charina nadura, tey-marie astudillo and maria taracena. mike di fillippo and miguel nogueira are our engineers. special thanks to becca staley, julie crosby, hugh gran, david prude, ishmael daro, vesta goodarz and carl marxer. and to our camera crew, jon randolph, kieran meadows, anna ozbek and matt ealy.end [captioning made possible by democracy now!] democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. email your comments to or mail them to: democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013
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amy: also tomorrow on democracy now we'll bring more on the first ever native american presidential forum that took place in sioux city, iowa. i'm amy goodman, thanks so much for joining us.
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