Marta’s story is an amazing journey in survival, with her becoming quite a success! Read the entire store in the October issue of eBella Magazine.
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Marta wrote “Lucia’s Letter” (below) to discourage parents from sending their daughters with coyotes to be smuggled into the U.S.
Mama, listen to me. This is a letter for you, and for my little sisters.
Mama, I am going to tell you the story of my life after you and Papa sent me with the coyotes to the US. You sold your land to pay them for my travel to find work, earn money and escape poverty.
Do you remember, Mama, when I left the house, I left with a blouse, pants and a pair of sneakers, and no sweater, because you could not buy me one? While we said goodbye, I thought ‘why did I have to go so far away from you, from my home, from my family?’
From that moment, I felt much sadness, much fear, because I was with strange men. Every day that we moved further away caused me more fear and sadness. Mama, you were so far from me and no one could protect me.
As the days passed, the men told me and the two other girls that we had to obey their orders, and the girls had to attend to the men and serve them their food. In the mountains we were so cold, and we slept under bridges. I was so afraid and so cold, Mama, but I was so far away from you. Later the girls had to sleep in the same small room as the men.
We continued our journey by train and on buses, now without food and without water. Days passed without food and only a little bit of water. Then we went in a large cattle truck, as if we were animals. With much heat, we went a long distance. There they put us in a house without light or electricity.
That night I was so afraid and so sad and on that night the coyote called me. He told me not to make noise or he would leave me there alone and would not take me with the group. In fear, I obeyed him. He led me far from the house and told me that I had to please him sexually and if not, he would leave me there, lost and without money, or he would turn me in to Immigration. He said that Immigration would put me in prison and never let me leave; that I would never see my family again. I was afraid. I didn’t want him to leave me there alone or in prison. So, I accepted everything that that man wanted of me and so he raped me. I was innocent, Mama, but now no more.
Afterwards he told me that if one of the other men also wanted to be with me, that I had to accept. If I complained or disobeyed him, I knew what would happen to me.
That is how I suffered on the journey through Mexico until arriving at the US border. I thought that my suffering would end there, but it wasn’t so. There we went into the desert to walk. They left us with another coyote and told us that we had to obey his orders.
The coyote asked us for more money. I had no money. They told the girls that if we didn’t have money they would leave us in the desert. But then they said that if we did what the men wanted, they would not leave us in the desert. The girls said, “No.” But they forced us to have sex with them and with any of the other men who traveled with us. Mama, I felt so destroyed and lost.
Those men were bad. They gave us pills to make us stronger, that afterwards we got nauseous and couldn’t feel what was happening. They gave us the drug so we would be able to walk as fast as the men.
We were three young girls. Mama, I was only 12 years old. Ana, who was 16, had a son and she didn’t obey the coyote. They left her in the desert with her son, without water or food. That caused me so much fear that I wanted to die. Still we continued with hunger, thirst, and exhaustion from walking – raped and wounded.
That was the suffering that I experienced in the desert. Doing things because of fear and threats, until we arrived at a village in Florida called Immokolee. There the coyote told us that we could not tell anyone where we lived and what we saw on the way, because no one would believe us because we didn’t have papers. And if we did say something to anyone that he would call the police and they would put us in prison. And that we would never get out of the prison.
He left me in his house with his family and told me to look for work to pay what I still owed him. And if not, he would sell me to some men who wanted a woman. All of this, Mama, when you had already given them everything you had and sold your land.
This is how I arrived in this county. I survive, but my soul is in pieces.
I have spoken with other women from Guatemala. And they suffered like I suffered. We think that maybe Immigration might have been better than the abuse of the coyotes. We didn’t know that we have human rights; that in the US the coyote would go to prison, not us.
You never knew what happened to us. But now you know. Mama, I don’t blame you, but don’t send my little sister.
I love you Mama. I am your daughter, always, Lucia