“The Dispossessed” by John Washington: Review

This article originally appeared in Toward Freedom

ARNOVIS, AT TWENTY-TWO, had been content with living a quiet life. He worked the night shift at a turtle hatchery on a remote Salvadoran island. He lived with his family and five year old in the thatched home he grew up in. Ahead of him lay a future that appeared uneventful and peaceful. 

But that future became impossible after a perceived slight at a soccer game threw him afoul of MS-13, a violent street gang that’d taken root on the island. “Sos tumba,” gang members warned him on anonymous phone calls—“You’re dead.” Facing imminent death in El Salvador, Arnovis was forced to flee, soon thrusting him into the nightmare that is our global border regime. 

In The Dispossessed, John Washington, an activist with No More Deaths–No Mas Muertos, longtime Spanish translator, and journalist, takes Arnovis’s story—his harrowing escapes from El Salvador and repeated rejections for asylum in the US—and uses it breathe  feverish life into that nightmarish global border system. By illustrating the life of a man torn apart by asylum, Washington paints a jolting vision of a world of cleaved by global economic apartheid.

Author: jared8796

I'm a multi-award-winning writer and independent journalist whose essays and reportage have been published in The Nation, Vice News, the Los Angeles Review of Books, El Faro, and NACLA, among others. As an investigator, my focus is on violence, environmental conflict, political and social struggle in Central America, particularly Honduras. As a writer and essayist, my wider concern is understanding the historical dynamics of social struggle and interrogating fundamental presuppositions concerning humans relation with one another and the planet. I've spent two and a half years as a reporter covering social and environmental strife in Mexico and Central America. In 2018, I was a grantee for the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, for whom I covered the continued existence of the Zapatista movement 25 years following their uprising. Since then, I've reported on MS-13 gang violence; indigenous radios in Guatemala; anti-government resistance in Honduras; and deadly environmental conflicts.

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