Such contradictions are characteristic of REFUGIO. It is a refugee camp, which
frequently has no refugees. It is an act of permanent, peaceful, resistence which is
studiously ignored by the very powers we resist. Its importance lies primarily in its very
existence. When throngs of Central Americans fled the U.S. financed bombardments and
extra-judicial killings, Refugio was often home to as many as 220 people at a time. Now
that the Central Americans are intercepted by the Mexican authorities, under contract with
the U.S.A., far fewer make it as far as the Rio Grande. And most of those who do are
detected by the high-tech toys of the ever burgeoning Border Patrol, before they reach
the relative safety of REFUGIO. Yet as the economic and political crisis deepens in
Mexico, it is not hard to imagine an even larger influx in the not-too-distant future.
"They also serve who stand and wait."
REFUGIO has been called a wildlife refuge that also assists political refugees.
Although that was not the original intent, it is perhaps a far more accurate
characterization, at the moment, than any other. The housing is rudimentary, at best.
There is no air-conditioning, and limited access to hot water. The work is hard, and
demands self-motivation. So unless one's soul is sufficiently nourished by the sight
of a great blue heron fishing in the resace, or a chance encounter with an owl or bobcat
in the banana grove, to tolerate the occasional sting of a scorpion, and the inevitable
nightly rustling of the roof rats, one should perhaps think twice about coming to REFUGIO
for more than a brief visit. And unless one is convinced that the continued existence of
REFUGIO is sufficient compensation for the isolation, and the almost total absence of
creature comforts, then even a brief visit would probably be too long. Some volunteers
have stayed for years. Others have left within hours of their arrival.