To the editor:
Raul Menjivar emigrated to the land of promise about eight years ago, hoping to escape political violence and poverty. Taking the only steady employment he could find, he worked at a dairy in Cache Valley. He came in search of the good life, the things dreamed of back home in El Salvador. He worked in good faith, almost every day, and slept in a dilapidated, vermin-infested house on the dairy property. I came to know Raul about two years ago as a student. He wanted to learn English, hoping to become more integrated into the America he sought.
Sometimes Raul called me up and asked for a ride to the clinic. He had skin problems because of the constant wetness of rubber milking gloves and cow medications. Often we went shopping where he eagerly filled his shopping cart and added something for me to show his appreciation. He relied on the patrone [owner] of the dairy to go shopping for him, so it was a special day when he could get to town.
One time we drove to a neighbor’s house where he showed me a car that was for sale. It was a beater, but to Raul it was more than gold, it was empowerment. “I have money,” he said. But He didn’t have a license to drive. Thinking an old car that needed maintenance wasn’t a good idea, I avoided getting involved. Once, when visiting the clinic, we both noticed a pretty woman. Raul and I chuckled. I knew Raul was lonely and he knew I was happily married. He was a normal, regular guy.
Eventually the dairy sold the cows and Raul moved once or twice more hoping again to find something steady. Another dairy took him, and he continued hoping, working, trying for a while. Then his longing turned to depression, and as with so many lonely, tired people who have given up, he became unstable. Fearing for his safety, he was admitted to psychiatric care in a hospital.
After a week Raul was released but obviously not well, he was noticed by people in the store, and the police were summoned. Like a cornered animal, Raul reacted erratically, dangerously. An attempt was made to calm him down, and take him to a safe place, but it was too late.
Raul died during his encounter with the police last Tuesday night. I was four blocks away.
How did this happen? He only wanted companionship and to be part of the American dream.
The promise of the promised land failed Raul.