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.