Hate flows from the border to Twitter

This is how the chain of disinformation works

The photo of George Alan Kelly, who is staring at the camera, is that of an old man. A venerable old man, 75 years old.

Kelly is a rancher whose property,the 68-hectare ranch in Kino Springs, borders the US-Mexico dividing line in Arizona.

From anonymity to death

Kelly was accused of homicide in Nogales. Last month he had a hearing before Judge Emilio G. Velasquez, after killing on January 30 an undocumented immigrant with shots from an AK-47  rifle. Kelly is charged with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. His trial will start in September

Kelly is accused of shooting without warning, and without ordering the group of immigrants off his property, who were about 80 meters away. The victim, Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, was in a group of eight men and women who had crossed the border fence minutes earlier and were heading north. His life and death were spent in poverty and anonymity. 

Thanks to a BBC reporter, we now know that Cuen came from the town of Uaysiacobe, a place with just over 4,000 inhabitants in the south of the Mexican state of Sonora. He was the father of seven. 

The other members of the group, some of whom later gave testimony in the case, and two others, who were also shot by Kelly, managed to run away and jump her back to Mexico. Cuen-Buitimea, a Border Patrol agent said, had crossed the border illegally many times for work and was stopped and arrested many times. He lived in a town on the other side.

Neither he nor his companions posed any risk to Kelly, his family or his property. The shooting was completely unjustified, whatever the circumstances.

The border is in flames

The number of illegal crossings at the southern border in fiscal year 2023 (which began in October) passed 1 million in the first week of March, surpassing last year’s mark. In many cases, the same people cross repeatedly.

Read Also  If Trump wins the presidency, this will be his immigration policy

There were also 328,000 deportations under Title 42, the protocol imposed by Trump during the pandemic that allows border agents to quickly remove those who turn themselves in and ask to apply for asylum. Title 42 will end mid May. 

In the same period, 345,000 cases of “got aways” were registered, defined by law as those who were seen crossing the border illegally, who were not apprehended and who have not been seen to return.

These are among the highest numbers recorded in 20 years.

In January there were 156,000 crossings. Less than in December, with 261,000, but a record for that month. It would have been more if not for the new Biden administration program that allows people from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua to apply for asylum from their country of origin but prohibits it once at the border. The total number of crossings in 2022 was around two million.

Undocumented immigration unites them

Immigration is an issue that excites the Republican Party base. For many of them, Kelly is a hero. They interpret the facts in their own way by creating the reality they would like to exist. So all sort of explanations are coming their way: that Kelly shoot into the air and for things in life he killed someone. That he had actually encountered armed groups of drug traffickers in the past. That someone else, not Kelly, killed Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea but they accused him. That everything is a conspiracy by the American and Mexican authorities, that work under the Mexican drug cartels.

Kelly’s attorney, Brenna Larkin said at the hearing that her client had not even fired at the group. He did fire earlier that day over the heads of some smugglers carrying AK-47 rifles on his property. The lawyer also accused the judge of not being objective by setting a bond of one million dollars when in other cases he asked for less.

The case, regrettable in itself, is becoming another battlefield for the radical right. For the MAGA camp, in the political confrontation anything goes. Lying is the least of their problems.

This was the origin of a very loud cry of support for Kelly by the campaigners of hate. Little by little they were drawing a new universe: That yes, there were eight members in the group, but all of them were heavily armed. That they were not migrants but drug traffickers dressed in uniforms. That “fact” justified his death at the hands of Kelly. Although according to other, that death had never happened.

Support Kelly, attack the government

One place where this justification campaign can be seen is Twitter. There, well-known activists and people on the street alike share total disbelief in what the government, or Democrats, or “the other side”, and total confidence- in the facts that their mind dictates.

Read Also  Racism Among Us: Latinos vs. Latinos

Chuck Callesto, Florida political consultant and former Republican candidate:

“BREAKING REPORT: GoFundMe removes pages for 73 year-old Arizona rancher who was arrested after shooting illegal immigrant while DEFENDED HIS FAMILY AND PROPERTY. Kelly is being held on $1 – MILLION BOND.

Patriots can SUPPORT George here.BREAKING REPORT: GoFundMe removes pages for 73 year-old Arizona rancher who was arrested after shooting illegal immigrant while DEFENDED HIS FAMILY AND PROPERTY. Kelly is being held on $1 – MILLION BOND.Patriots can SUPPORT George here..” (point to an account on Spotfund)

Jack Posobiec, American right-wing political activist and notorious conspiracy theorist: “Kelly alleges self-defense from drug runners”.

In another tweet, criminal defense attorney Robert Gouveia alleges that the bullet that killed Cuen-Buitimea did not come from his gun.

Was it even his bullet? The Defense for the Arizona Rancher George Alan Kelly says the government has not confirmed. pic.twitter.com/YT36nIFuBe

— Robert Gouveia Esq. (@RobGouveiaEsq) February 16, 2023

A well-known far-right provocateur, Mike Cernovich, tweets:

Democrat DA’s are domestic terrorists. This rancher is an innocent man. He’s being persecuted. Maybe the prosecutors are being paid by the drug cartels? Might be a question ⁦@RepGosar⁩ can look into.

 Victor Koman, Sci-Fi Author: Maybe it explains why 74-year-old rancher George Alan Kelly is on trial for shooting a cartel customer — if Arizonans defend their own lives and property from illegal alien gotaway trespassers in camo carrying firearms, that would cut into Katie Hobbs’s cash flow! 

“Rambling Rose,” who bills herself as a “proud conservative patriot who loves God, Family, and Country.”

“This is infuriating that he was even charged. It seems the cartel has friends in high places.”

Read Also  On the Question of Immigration, Biden Wants to be Like Trump

And others, so on:

“Something tells me the bill is for sale in that town too, someone has receipts I’m sure.”

“The corruption runs deep. The cartel is already in the pockets of powerful people on this side of the border.”

“This man should not be in jail, not even have charges against him. END POINT!!!!”

“He Defended His Family From Narco Terrorists!”

“This is going to happen to all of us very soon if we don’t stop the Third Reich.”

“He’s innocent! He Shot into the air!”

“Our fraudulently elected secretary of state used to work for the cartels. The fraudulent governor is bought and paid for.”

“Mexican cartels now run Arizona!”

“Of course he is being falsely accused. He fired warning shots and the next day a body was said to be killed by him. The governor of Arizona is probably also part of the plot and works with the drug cartel.”

However, Judge Velasquez decided that the accusations are credible enough and ordered a trial. In September, by the time it starts, and the members of the jury are designated, the country will be neatly divided. Kelly, who in multiple interviews on his way to court seemed dazed with so much attention, will be either a hero or a villain.

The border claimed another victim with a shot in the back and the immigrants continue trying to cross; they can cross physical barriers, but not those of hate.


Website | + posts

Founder and co-editor of Latino Los Angeles. Editor Emeritus of La Opinion, former Editor-in-Chief. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, novelist, and short story writer. Was the editorial director of Huffington Post Voces. Editor-in-chief of the weekly Tiempo in Israel. Is the father of three grown children and lives with Celia and with Rosie, Almendra and Yinyit in Los Angeles.

Comment here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button