Urrea offers the names and firsthand accounts of the Wellton 26. José de Jesús Rodriguez was “mad” to be venturing to the U.S. Enrique Landeros García was thirty years old, from a coffee village, and was walking for his wife and son—hoping to earn money in the U.S. that would “change [their] lives.” Reyno Bartolo Hernandez was a thirty-seven-year-old coffee farmer who had worn matching green socks and pants on the trek in order to “look nice” when he got to the States. Lorenzo Ortiz Hernandez was walking to the U.S. in hopes of being able to afford to raise his five children. Reymundo Barreda Maruri, at fifty-six, was the “grandpa of the group.” He had been to the U.S. once before, and was now journeying with his son, Reymundo Jr.
As in the passage concerning hyperthermia and the stages of heat death, Urrea uses this passage to force his audience to bear witness to the names and lives of the men who suffered and died in the desert.
Nahum Landa Ortiz brought many relatives with him. Oritz’s nephew, José Antonio Bautista, would later describe the “enchantments and deceptions” of the Cercas gang. Edgar Adrian Martinez was just sixteen, and was hoping to earn enough money to marry his girlfriend, Claudia. Edgar’s uncle, José Isidro Colorado, and his godfather, Victor Flores Badillo, endured the ordeal together. Mario Castillo had been to the U.S. before, and was returning in order to earn enough money to “break away from his parents’ help”—he wanted to open a corner store back in Veracruz. Claudio Marin, Heriberto Tapia, and Javier Santillan stuck together as Javier began to slip into deep disorientation. Rafael Temich González was a severe-looking corn farmer who longed to earn enough money to support his large extended family, who all slept together in one house. Julian Ambros Malaga, brother-in-law of Rafael Temich, wanted to earn money “to build cement walls for his mother’s house.” The González Manzano brothers, Isidro, Mario and Efraín, were a “crazy” group of jokers. Lauro, one of the polleros, was alone—nobody, not even Mendez, ever knew his real name.
Urrea wants his readers to understand the men’s motivations—their desperation, their love of family, their pride and their desire to work hard. In illustrating the familial connections between members of the group, he offers a portrait of a group not of unconcerned strangers but of deeply connected people who set out together in hopes of bettering their lives together. Urrea highlights the ways in which the men helped one another even in their most dire moments, and the ways in which they bore witness to one another’s pain and suffering.