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“Todos somos Anastasio! We are all Anastasio!”

May 11, 2012

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

Two years after the death of San Diego resident Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, his family and supporters continue demanding justice and answers from the Obama administration.

Hernandez Rojas died in May 2010, a few days after being beaten and tased by Border Patrol agents near the San Ysidro pedestrian exit. The case was well-documented with video taken by passer-bys.

Since then, his family and supporters have been demanding that the federal government releases information of the investigation. On Thursday, May 3, a vigil and march was held at Balboa Park in support of his widow Maria Puga and the family of Hernandez. Eight cities across the country participated in a National Day of Action demanding justice from the Obama Administration in the case of Hernandez.

“We want to see where in the training manual it says it’s okay to kill border residents like Sergio Adrian who are not posing threats to agents,” said Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “This is a pattern of abuse that repeatedly ends in homicide.”

Ramirez said that there has been no information released on Hernandez’s case.

“Anastasio was a proud father of five, a hard-worker, we want to make sure justice is made for him,” he said.
During the vigil, people hold signs asking “Who killed Anastasio?” Others read, “We are all Anastasio! Todos somos Anastasio!” Still others demanded, “We demand justice!”

Hernandez was 44 years old when he died. His mother and other family members came from the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi to participate in the vigil.

“Today we take to the streets again to remember Anastasio,” Ramirez said. “We want the government to clarify this case.”

Hernandez had been a San Diego resident before being detained by the Border Patrol. His children and wife lived here with him.

“We’re not talking about a stranger, about an outsider,” Ramirez said. “Anastasio was a San Diegan, he was our neighbor!”
San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez was present at the vigil, wearing a San Diego baseball cap, Hernandez’s trademark.

“I’m here to demand a clarification of what happened two years ago,” said Alvarez, who represents District 8, which includes Barrio Logan and San Ysidro. “It’s inconceivable that in plain 21st century these kinds of injustice are taking place. This has nothing to do with immigration, it is about human rights and dignity.”

San Diego activist Estela de los Rios said that “we need to stop the brutal killings at the border.”

Maria de la Luz Rojas, Hernandez’s mother, thanked all the participants during the vigil. “Thank you to everyone who have helped us,” she said in Spanish.

In the last 2 weeks, more than 32,000 people have signed a petition demanding that Attorney General Holder and the Obama Administration conduct an open and thorough investigation into the incident.

On Mexican Mother’s Day, May 10, those petitions were delivered outside the Department of Justice building in Washington D.C. Congress members, including Rep. Bob Filner, are circulating letters demanding Holder to release information about the status of the investigations of eight Border Patrol-related deaths.

These events come just days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided not to prosecute the Border Patrol agent who shot and killed 15 year-old Sergio Adrián Hernandez Hüereca. The deadly incident occurred days after Anastasio was killed near the international bridge that unites Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. The DOJ asserted that the agent acted in accordance with Border Patrol guidance on use of force when they shot Sergio across the international boundary.

Community members in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, Calexico, South Texas and other U.S. cities, organized actions denouncing the lack of accountability and oversight over U.S. border agents that has resulted into repeated cases of brutality.

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