Celebration of death
Galería de Fotos | 22 Fotos Peter Eversoll
Fet Gede (also, spelled Fete Ghede or Guédé is a celebration of death and, conversely, life held in Vodou communities on November 2nd, although festivities around the Gede last into the month. It is very similar to “Dia de los Muertos” in both its connection to embracing the after-life, but also in its roots of colonized peoples subverting the forced Catholic conversion through integrating non-Catholic beliefs into established Catholic celebrations. However, it is very different in practice. The celebration is a time for giving appreciation to the Gede, who protect the dead, and to feast in honor of ancestors.
Port-au-Prince’s Grand Cemetery comes alive with Vodouists leaving tribute and incarnating Iwa, or spirits. Starting at dawn, devotees arrive to prepare the site by repainting crosses, lighting candles, and making offerings to the Barons, the Maman and other Gede, who arrive throughout the morning. The order of Iwa, including the Barons, Maman and the Gede are complex and rich in power and symbology that deserves more than just a quick summary.
The Barons and Maman represent the first man and woman buried in the cemetery and the other Gede generally act as playful figures who have fun with visitors (both alive and dead,) and some serve as soothsayers and conduits between the here and the underworld. To prove their ability to connect with the afterlife, incarnated Gede will drink Pima (raw rum spiced with 21 goat peppers,) or rub it in their eyes and genitals, others will pierce themselves with pins or speak in tongues.
Thousands of Haitians and Africans arrive in Tijuana, Mexico, to seek asylum in the US
Galería de Fotos | 26 Fotos Peter Eversoll
Over the last few weeks migrants from Africa, Haiti and Pakistan have been arriving in droves to Tijuana, Mexico. This is the second large wave of people from these areas who are using Tijuana as a gateway to the United States in their quest to get political asylum. More than 5,000 have arrived over the last few months, most are from Haiti, but others are from Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gambia, and Ghana; there are also a few families from Pakistan. However, the true nationality of many is uncertain to immigration officials, as migrants are claiming to be from African nations in order to get around the Obama administration’s new stance on limiting Haitian asylum requests which puts those without visas on a fast-track deportation process.
Many of these migrants have traveled through South and Central America, taking as much as 6 months to make the journey to Tijuana, while others enter by airplane with visas. Some Haitians were previously living in Brazil, given asylum status after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the island nation. The problem, for both migrants and migrant outreach organizations, is that there is a wait for asylum interviews, often between 3 and 4 weeks (although, many Haitian migrants have reported that recently US Immigration and Customs Service has been granting them faster appointment dates.) Once their money for food and hotels run out, they must seek assistance from local organizations such as El Desayunador Salesiano Padre Chava and La Casa del Migrante, where they line up every morning to get assistance, secure lodging for the night and consult with Mexican immigration officials about their cases.