What’s Your POV?

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The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández tells a frightening and cautionary tale about the dangers of using military as domestic law enforcement — a role that the military, under the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, had been prohibited from taking. In 1997, U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexican border as part of the U.S. war on drugs shot and killed Esequiel Hernández Jr. Mistaken for a drug runner, the 18 year old was, in fact, a U.S. citizen tending his family’s goats. The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández, a 90-minute documentary, explores this tragedy and its aftermath from multiple points of view, including Esequiel’s parents, siblings, and friends, the Marines on patrol and FBI investigators.

As the story unfolds the film raises as many questions as it answers.

Bill O'ReillyTV personality Bill O’Reilly dismisses the incident saying “accidents will happen in any military deployment,” and challenges viewers asking, “What is the harm in giving us more protection by using the military the way they should be used? If you read the Constitution, the military’s primary mandate is to protect the borders of the United States!”

Rep. Tom TancredoCongressman Tom Tancredo says of the shooting that such accidents have to be balanced against the need for national security. In what ways does drug interdiction contribute to national security? Is there a difference between “national interest” and “national security”?

FBI Agent Jane KellyFBI Case Agent Jane Kelly says “If [the Marines] had been any domestic law enforcement personnel, sheriff’s deputy, Texas Rangers, FBI, they would have gone to jail.” What are the differences between law enforcement and the military? Which is better suited to patrol the border and why?

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández raises critical public policy issues related to the militarization of the border, the human cost of the war on drugs, the blurring of lines between the military and law enforcement and finding justice for an American family who has lost a son. What lessons does the death of Esequiel Hernández offer regarding the current deployment of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border?

  • Chip

    FOREIGNID: 16521
    I find it shocking that nobody was held in the death of this young man. This is just another example of the Government and Military going overboard and then “protecting” their own. If this would have happened to anyone else they would have been rotting in jail.
    Yes, we need to protect the boarder, but there are other ways other than military involvement to do it. How many more innocent people have to die before American’s are willing to take off their blinders, look and what Bush is doing and take a stand against it.
    This is America for crying out loud, and our military and government is looking more and more like Russia of old.

  • Hiram Moya

    FOREIGNID: 16522
    I was very moved by this story, and I want to thank you for showcasing stories related to the latino community.
    I hope that my contributions to PBS continues to support programs like these, and many other future collaborations with other organizations that help bring the issues of latinos in the USA.
    Thank you.

  • http://fuytuyy jyfuyfyufiyu

    FOREIGNID: 16523
    it’s very obvious the boy was hunted down and executed by a team of other kids out of control allowed by their above command one would think they could have at least announced their intent and what was the intent at that time that entire operation was just down right wrong the family should be rewared

  • Kevin P

    FOREIGNID: 16524
    Once again I must commend PBS on it’s most recent hatchet job. Does it ever concern anyone on your staff of the consistent anti-government tone? There is a line in the sand and it should be enforced. Of course in all the world there are not any military personnel on borders. Next time, maybe one should comply with a repeated warning to drop a weapon.
    Critics are a dime a dozen, there is never a practical solution presented. Don’t get a nose bleed from the rarified air your breathing.
    Of course this posting MUST be from a insensitive right winger (right?)

  • Tosh

    FOREIGNID: 16525
    Geez, I had never heard this story. Truth be known, there are few jurisdictions in this country that will indict police or military for wrongful death of innocent civilians.
    Thanks for telling this story.

  • Jim J

    FOREIGNID: 16526
    Very sad that Ezekial was killed. But what the heck was he doing firing his .22 at he knew not who? Don’t fry the Marines for eliminating a threat. Maybe they should have tried to capture him, but if someone, possibly a drug runner, shot at your son in the desert would you not think that it was acceptable to fire back at the shooter to neutralize him?

  • Kevin Kruger

    FOREIGNID: 16527
    It is foolish to think that we can secure our borders with any level of security against anyone who is determined to get in. I live near the Canadian border which is thousands of miles long and most of it is unmanned. As long as there is economic disparity along a border, people will cross it and you cannot stop it. It is a waste of our resources to do so. If you think arming the border will stop terrorists from enter the country, then you are an ostrich with your head in the sand. It is only a matter of time before this tragedy repeats itself and it is not right to say “its the price of freedom.” It was the denial of that freedom. I felt this film forced me to review a part of my country’s behavior that is shameful and should never, never, happen again.

  • Eddie

    FOREIGNID: 16528
    If he was a american the he should have understood english enough to know to put the gun down. This is america the chosen language is english. I dont expect to travel to another country and they have to learn english just because im there.

  • DC

    FOREIGNID: 16529
    Amazing story. I am simply amazed that none of these marines were brought to trial. I served as a surveillance team leader on a military counter-narcotics operation for a number of years. My team was fired on a minimum of 6 times and we never had to return fire. My team simply manuevered to a position that would enable us to take the threat without having to fire. I must admit, my team was very well trained, very effective, and very disciplined.
    I simply cannot imagine these marines performing in such a fashion. I am amazed that the shooter and/or others were not held accountable for this crime.
    My heart goes out to the family. I hope such a travesty will never again occur on U.S. Soil.
    This was a very powerful story. Very well put together.

  • tony

    FOREIGNID: 16530
    I just watched the hernandez film and it is very compelling.The producer did his best from being to biased of course he wasn’t in the field with the marines on that day or any other day for that matter was he .everyone can sit behind there computers and second guess what a Marine or police officer did after the fact but until you, I repeat you are in their shoes you have no idea! Everyone feels sorry for the loss of life especially innocent life. Our border with Mexico must be secured at all costs. The way the producer portrayed Pres. Bush 43 at the end ruined the whole program, and showed his true biase.

  • Shawn McCreight

    FOREIGNID: 16531
    I thought this episode was well made. I enjoyed it up until the point when the camera zoomed in to depict our current president as an evil person. I thought that was tastless and imature. I was happy to watch this shoe and become informed of the situation. It was unfortunate for all.
    Had we as citizens and our presidents not turned a blind eye to the flagrant disregard to our countries borders I believe that the death of Esequiel could have been prevented. I was shocked to hear the town historian talk about how they had crossed that border for so long. It was as if he and everyone else had some right to ignore our countries laws. Shame on us for allowing this kind of attitude. The director said it was crazy to think of these border towns as having a line dividing them. Well sir, THERE IS ONE. We have waited to long to close down the border. And now look at the mess we have with illegals in our country. This is not Mexico. This is the United States of America. When I take a toy away from my son for abusing it he feels hurt. In the same way I believe that many border town residents have not respected our countries laws and now that the border is begining to be shut down they feel the pain.
    I also find it predictable that the director didn’t include the sticky situation in which our soilders currently on the border faced and handled very well. He also didn’t mention that the border governers are requesting that the national guard remain in support of our border security. But I don’t think that was the truth that the director was trying to get across in his bias film. I don’t understand why it is so hard for people to respect the fact that we have a border that is illegal to cross without coming here properly. And when they get caught they cry bloody civil rights murder. Mind blowing to say the least. The people in border town are owed an apology. We are sorry that we have allowed you and Mexicans to believe that you were free to cross at will. This was wrong and hopfully we can fix it fast.
    Thank you,
    Shawn McCreight

  • Phil Islas

    FOREIGNID: 16532
    Ezequial Hernandez film was superb. Well made, crude when necessary factual and always fair. Mant years ago I talked with a German I met in a beer garden he told me that one man is like anyother man: He said, “Mensh is Mensh” uberalles…

  • None

    FOREIGNID: 16533
    Once again, the rest of the country does not understand border county issues. Once again, young Marines or soldiers are put in a position in which they are not mature enough to handle. And for the Marine who said the US Armed Forces do their job so we can breathe. Well, keep believing that. There are some battles in history in which the US Armed Forces have fought to keep us safe; this was not one of them. This is a sad commentary on the US Marines!

  • craig massey

    FOREIGNID: 16535
    i would like to start by saying that it is a shame that a civilian had to lose his life in such a way, my heart goes out to Eseguiel Hernandez’s family for their lose.
    i served with BSSG Supply Co. 1st Mar. Brgde 1Mar. Div.
    graduated Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Ca.
    Marines are not trained to patrol borders, Marines are trained to advance toward gunfire, they are trained to neutralize any and all threats to their positions and personnel.
    had they not have been fired upon, no threats would have existed and no lose of life would have occurred
    i’m not putting blame on Eseguiel, but on the politicians who put the Marine Corp in the position of carrying out a political mission. political missions are for the U.S. Army to carry out !
    did the U. S. gov. educate the public of what to do or how to conduct theirselves with military manueuvers and training in the area or were a few signs posted their only knowlege?
    our politicians need to learn that their actions in such cases are the root of all that happens in military actions, they set the wheels in motion and if missions go as planned with no incidences”LOOK HOW GREAT I AM’, but when something goes wrong, they turn their backs on the situation and send the blame rolling downhill like an avalanche blaming the boots on the ground for their actions.
    civilians with no military experience are ignorant to the actions that will be taken in such situations and throw blame only where they see, which is usually towards the Marines, Soldiers,Sailors or Airmen, because that is what feels concrete in such a fluid circumstance.

  • John

    FOREIGNID: 16534
    Thank you for showing this story. I don’t remember hearing about this incident at the time.
    It is an example of why we must maintain a watchful eye on our government. From the footage of the White House press secretary’s remarks it seems like they were more interested in covering their own butts than in finding out the truth.
    In the film one of the marines says something like, “If you don’t ‘man-up’ and lay in the dirt like him” then he doesn’t want to hear your criticism of his work for, as he puts it, providing us with the free air we breath. Well what about “manning-up” and telling the truth? Just because you volunteer to serve your country does not give you the right to do wrong.
    From the evidence I could see it seems to me that those marines came down from a superior position, hunted that young man down, and murdered him. Benuelos shot him in the back.
    I feel so bad for his family. My heart goes out to them. I am glad you told their story. I hope it helps in some way.

  • Elizabeth Strejcek

    FOREIGNID: 16536
    It was obvious where this story was going…too bad WTTW in Chicago decided to cancel the last half hour and show the usniess news instead. I guess their priorities have not changed. Esequiel still gets short shrift.
    Don’t tell me that 4 marines with binoculars over a distance of 200 yards couldn’t recognize a 22 rifle as a small varment gun in Texas….They knew what they saw and they knew Esquiel posed no threat…that is why they had to move in closer to get their “kill” instead of all standing and putting the kid under arrest….they could have easily “captured” him but chose to shoot a lone kid who was obviously out-gunned! i notice that none of them said that they thought they had gotten a drug smuggler…they knew. I wish WTTW knew enough to let people see the entire film.

  • Mr. Wilson

    FOREIGNID: 16537
    Did I miss something in watching this show? I have seen numerous references to the Marines shouting at the victim of this incident to stop and drop his weapon. I don’t think that is what happened. The boy was unknowingly pursued and willfully “neutralized” by the detachment of Marines.
    There is a difference between being a boy in Texas, walking in your community and shooting the gun that you have the right to own, and disobeying a direct order from four members of our elite armed services to drop his weapon and get on the ground.
    The way the southern border of our country is treated is indeed disturbing.

  • http://www.pbs.org/pov/blog/2008/07/whats_your_pov_the_ballad_of_e_1.html Jerry Wolters

    FOREIGNID: 16538
    No one should die like this, for these reasons. In Iraq or Afghanistan the marines would have been under tighter rules of engagement and would not have been tasked to kill that boy, ergo they must be tried for the crime, and we all would benefit from the nationally televised trial but they are not guilty. The guilty party is clearly us, the american citizens that have lost control of our government so that a faction and cabal of fascists at the highest levels are acting with impunity and they’re not even going to allow you the right of habeus corpus when they come for you. Enjoy THAT breath.
    edited by moderator for language

  • Steve

    FOREIGNID: 16539
    I think the program only hinted at what should have been the point – the policies, leadership and training of the chain of command from the Secretary of Defense down to the officers responsible for the corporals in the field.
    It seems that the young marines were trained for warfare, where it is not only fair, but desirable to hunt and kill the enemy. Apparently, they were not trained for law-enforcement. When the squad leader announced his intention to attack the victim, it seems that he was not given intelligible guidance by the officer on watch in the tactical operations center – he was only referred to the rules of engagement in a general way.
    I do not think it is fair to second-guess the marines who did what they were trained to do. I do wonder about their training, their leadership and the policies that placed them in the field under these conditions. The program said almost nothing about these three aspects – which I think should have been the focus.
    By concentrating on the actions of a few corporals, it added four young men and their families to the list of victims of this incident. More importantly, the program trivialized what should have been an inquiry of the actions (or failures) of the generals and colonels – and possibly the highest levels of the military administration. This is no surprise, because such an inquiry would likely be expensive and tedious, and would not be quite so photogenic or interesting.
    That being said, I am glad that the program raised an important issue because it is unlikely that the military have not learned some useful lessons, especially in the light of the publicity.

  • Mark

    FOREIGNID: 16540
    We soldiers are trained to kill. For some of us it is easy and for some not so easy. We take orders but still use our own judgement to a degree. It looks to me that this was a case of a soldier out to kill someone he thought was the enemy. The drug smuggling has been going on since the 30′s when the mafia started bringing in boose and guns ect.. just like their kids are doing today. Mexico is very corrupt just like the US and if they really wanted to stop the drug problem they could. So much money = crooked cops,border patrol,mayors etc. on both sides. ask ole Pablo Acostas family. I am ex Army, Law enforcement and bounty hunter. I quit it all because of the corruption. We need to drug test all our public officials and give them lie detector tests. Only a handful will pass. If I die for this tommorrow, so be it.

  • Andy from Brooklyn

    FOREIGNID: 16541
    I for one do not believe our marines should be on duty on our borders unless we are at war. And it is a war situation that our Marines are trained for — to engage enemy combatants.
    We delude ourselves when we use such terms as “war on terror”, “war on drugs”, or “war on poverty” and expect our military to participate in engaging in activities when they are trained to do combat in operations that are not on American soil or against American citizens.
    America, we have to take responsibility for the nation we want to have and one that we believe in. We pledge allegiance “with liberty and justice for all”. FOR ALL.
    If we truly wish to have secure borders and prevent drug trafficking then we need to improve our boarder patrol. They are personnel who are trained to know the area. We need to have our local police forces well trained, well armed and prepared to secure our borders. There is no reason our boarder patrol should be understaffed or under funded. NONE.
    We must demand that our politicians have the guts to say, “America, it will cost tax payer money to secure our borders and we will secure our boarders but we will not resort to having our military or Blackwater at our boarders when we are not at war.”

  • Eddie C.

    FOREIGNID: 16542
    To military man who think I owe them: I DON’T OWE YOU ANYTHING FOR THE AIR I BREATHE OR THE RIGHTS PROMISED TO ME IN THE CONSTITUTION. I don’t need you to “protect” me from anything. If the need arises, I’ll be happy to pick up an M-16 and defend myself and my family. I am tired of the militarization of our country. God bless them for doing their job and keep them safe. But let us not pretend that recent military actions amount to “protecting” the home front. No Iraqi ever violated my civil rights. No Vietnamese beat me for no reason. No Korean ever took my home. The U.S. military has not DEFENDED Americans since WWII and anybody who thinks they have should open up a history book. So Torres, get off your high horse and stop characterizing your effort to get some job training and college money as some noble quest to defend this country from invading hordes bent on raping our women, taking our homes and enslaving the citizens of this country.
    As a matter of fact, wasn’t it Zimmerman, a LAWYER, who defended the corporal’s rights in a court of law?
    edited by moderator for personal attack

  • stephen d. mitchell

    FOREIGNID: 16543
    I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served between the years 1976-1979 and honorably discharged after having reached the rank of Corporal.
    I found the tale of the tragic and unnecessary killing of young Esequiel Hernadez to be truly moving and very well presented. My prayers are with the Hernandez family and as much as I continue to support the Marine Corps, and the courage and honor with which the men and women continue to serve, I feel that justice was not served in this instance. The men in this case were ill-equipped and prepared for the mission they were given, and based the evidence, the young Lance Corporal who fired the fatal shot was not justified in his actions.
    The entire operation, in my opinion, was ill-conceived. I think that in remote locations such as this, if their is a question of border security, law-enforcement (or military) should not hide in the bushes to detect illegal activity, but their mission and the well-being of the community would best be served if they would overtly (rather than covertly) make their presence known to the residents by introducing themselves openly and informing them of their concerns, whatever they may be, about any suspected or potential for illegal activity in the area in question. If they had approached this mission in that manner, it is likely that an incident like this one would never have taken place. Finally, the so-called War on Drugs or drug smuggling does not warrant the use of military personnel deployed in THIS manner!
    The one point of concern I have, however, is that there seems to be an attitude held by many in this country that causes many to fail to appreciate the critical threat that open and unmonitored borders between the U.S. and Mexico poses to the safety and security of our nation.
    Whether or not you support or despise the current administration’s policies in trying to defend us from the clear and present danger posed by enemies of America, (specifically Islamic terrorists: people that will use any lack of resolve on our part to infiltrate and do harm to America), our borders MUST be secured.
    I have no problem with Mexicans, who are for the most part God-fearing and lovers of freedom (and America) and many of which are more patriotic than people who have lived here all their lives and no longer feel the need to value it’s traditions and values. What I do have a problem with is an attitude that we are to do nothing to protect our borders from those whose motives may not be as benign as these people who wish us no harm. That is why it is important that we shouldn’t use politiciize tragedies such as this one, but we should rather amend our approach to the border problem in a way that can accomodate our Mexican and South American friends and allies with the challenges we all face to make this an inclusive country for honest hard-working people of all nationalities, but one that, in these times, has serious border security issues that we all need to work TOGETHER in resolving.
    I have no problem with military involvement in securing our borders (it is a NATIONAL SECURITY issue), but they must do so while working with the people who live in these communities and are as much a part of our society as anyone else whose goal is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • John

    FOREIGNID: 16544
    Thank you for this wonderful film. Unlike many who have posted here, I remember the incident clearly and have wondered why it’s not discussed more as people demand the border become more militarized.
    Texas never had a problem being next to Mexico, now that the rest of the country has created the problem, I wonder why they don’t build fences around their states and leave Texas alone.
    The gentlemen that suggest that “accidents will happen” would never be so callous if they were talking about their own neighborhoods.

  • Lance

    FOREIGNID: 16545
    At my count, 5 out of 11 posts were properly empathetic about the death of an innocent student (American, English speaker). The other six posts appear to be written by ignorant individuals. I hope that PBS will continue to try to educate the less fortunate in this country. But judging from 45% of the posts PBS may be fighting a losing battle. Reading books and getting an education can actually improve mental abilities. Start with this these: AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON, then HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL. Best wishes and good luck.
    edited by moderator for personal attack

  • Lorrain Perea

    FOREIGNID: 16546
    Until there is an understanding of the border communities, their traditions and culture, these American Citizens will not benefit by the “protection” that the military purports to safeguard.

  • James

    FOREIGNID: 16547
    This is a very powerful and moving documentary. I watched with my mouth agape through most of it. This was an act of voluntary manslaughter, at best, and most likely deliberate murder. Anybody who knows the difference between the ping of a .22 rifle at 400 meters, and an M16 at the same distance will know the absurdity of the alibi. To defend this act as faithful soldiers doing their duty to their country is ludicrous and deminishes real service to our country.

  • wayne

    FOREIGNID: 16548
    I enjoyed the program and was suprised that PBS presented a show that was pretty much fair and balanced. However, the film maker did not seem to realize the full details of the event and it appears he was not satisfied with the outcome. The Marines did their job…End of story. This town was identified a a hot spot for illegal drug activity. Just a curious question, how many people in that town received benefit from that trade? We do have borders and if we had adequate enforcement for the past 50 years we wouldn’t have to try and resolve the issues today. We wouldn’t have 12 million illegals inside our borders being pandered to by bleeding-heart liberals. The town seems think think it is a part of Mexico. It is not. I would like to know how many of the townspeople are drawing US government checks, how many are tax paying citizens, and how many receive free health care? The latest update on this story said the town’s economy was hurting after the crossing was closed. Could it be there aren’t any more illegals and drug-runners providing the support? It was said many of them have to go to Odessa to work. I just wonder how long that will last with the gas prices. A last word,… if you were armed and saw someone with a gun fixing to shoot your brother, would you shoot that person?

  • DUD

    FOREIGNID: 16549
    Nice hit piece. Soiled the sad and very moving tale with an incredibly cynical, hateful ending–the filmmaker even managed to make it look like the elder President Bush made a Nazi salute–proud of yourself? The First Amendment lives because of Marines who paid the price , who are human like the rest of us, and who make mistakes. A horrible, stupid tragedy was exploited by a filmmaker with an obvious agenda. Neither of the Presidents Bush pulled a trigger or killed anyone, yet the contrived ending was in a word, disgusting. Congratulations on insulting my intelligence.

  • U. Martinez Olivo

    FOREIGNID: 16550
    This idea of Nationalism in the U.S. as a driving force to close the borders is inherently dangerous. We forget that nationalism was the driving force behind building the wall in Berlin to divide a city between east and west, or that it was German nationalism that led to the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II. Protecting the country during times of war is certainly honorable, but not at the expense civilian casualties on “American” soil.

  • James

    FOREIGNID: 16551
    Post deleted by moderator for personal attack

  • Josiah

    FOREIGNID: 16552
    The fundamental problem with trying to use the military as an extension of the border patrol is that they are not trained in a law enforcement mindset, they are trained in pure military tactics. If you put what happened in the context of a war zone, what they did would have been textbook action against an enemy soldier. Even if that enemy soldier poses no tactical threat, they would be expected to “neutralize” him.
    Because if it was cognitive thought and not military training kicking in, any law enforcement officer would of looked at the whole context and would not of shot the kid. A goat herder shooting an old .22 that might effective range of 75 yards but most likely less then 50 yards posed absolutely no threat to the Marines in the position that they were in at the time.
    This documentary’s fact checking is very questionable… 1970 at Kent State was not the last time the military killed American civilians, 1992 during the L.A. Riots three were killed by the Army National Guard, all three were fully justified. It seems like the filmmaker wanted to make the inference that whenever the military is involved in stateside action, only innocent people are killed. That is absolutely wrong and I hope your staff makes the appropriate corrections.
    I know about those three because my dad was in the California National Guard (185th Armor) and was one of the first 2,000 Guardsmen sent to the riots. I’m also sure that if some real research is done more examples could be found between 1970 and 1997, most likely fully justified.
    The biggest issue here is that the military should never be involved with non-emergency law enforcement activities. Only in riots or natural disasters were the existing law enforcement is disabled is the only time they should be called in. Otherwise Its like using a sledge hammer when only a hand pick is called for.

  • Lance

    FOREIGNID: 16553
    I am happy to see that I have been joined by more intellegent viewers. I especially appreciate the perspicacious and emphathetic comments of ex-military.

  • James

    FOREIGNID: 16554
    Post deleted by moderator for personal attack

  • manuel diaz

    FOREIGNID: 16555
    the film was excellent, it show the petite mentality of our military leaders andthe stupidity of its soldiers, hte hernandez family should be compensated and the marines should have ended in jail, hopefully in California next to the mexican mafia.

  • vic

    FOREIGNID: 16556
    The shooting of this young boy was wrong. It doesn’t matter from which angle you look at it. The comments about protecting the country involve a feeling of patriotism. This typre of feeling sends people to their grave needlessly. It is a motivating force that can cause man to do harm to his fellow man, and in this case cause justice to be passed over. The only solution is God’s Kingdom.

  • Eugenia Fernandez

    FOREIGNID: 16557
    Thank you POV for not being afraid to point out the truth. In general, the American public is blind to the realities of other cultures living within the borders of the US. These people have been completely stripped of freedom, this country is not free but is actually very oppressive to them. Only few people stop to think of how different life can be outside of their own neighborhood. If you were raised as I was, you would know that you must carry a weapon to protect your sheep when coyotes are a common threat and sometimes even packs of dogs left out there by careless people are a threat as well. This was a young American with a dream. It was a huge dream to him, something that he looked forward to and would have to work harder for than most young Americans. He was a peaceful person and that day he was doing his usual mundane routine. Everyone says they’re thankful for our military, but there are no soldiers stalking their back yards and seeing their use of a weedeater as an act of engagement with military lethal force. I am completely offended when someone says that we should accept shoddy excuses and look the other way because our military dies for our freedom. My ancestors died for me trying to preserve our way of life and beliefs from being destroyed at the hands of unreasonable and barbarous immigrants. The native people are still suffering at the hands of the US in many ways. If the people of America continue to make excuses and look the other way, one day we will wake up to a totally different reality where no regular American has any rights, then it will be too late for them to make a difference. Sure, what we don’t know won’t hurt us. Not yet, anyway. Look around, be aware and make a difference for your neighbors. Please realize that there are families living on both sides of the border, who love each other and drive and walk back and forth daily. These are families that go back hundreds of years and that border was not there when they settled. Don’t be blind in your point of view. These deep rooted families will be seperated in a way that will keep them from having the FREEDOM to see one another. Remember the Berlin Wall. Wake up America!

  • Concerned Citizen

    FOREIGNID: 16558
    I believe that that soldier is a murdered and should be tried so like any other regular person who kills without jurisdiction. Even if he was a U.S. Marine he had no right to kill that innocent man and justice needs to be served to this man’s family. It makes me sad to see our government allow such things to happen and allow such men like this Marine to get away with it.

  • Alicia in TX

    FOREIGNID: 16559
    I agree with Mr. Mitchell’s comment. I am a Texan, a Republican, and I support the military. But obviously an injustice was done and as others have said, many errors and bad judgment was the cause of the death of Esequiel. I was comforted to hear retired military personnel who investigated concurring stating that justice was not done in this instance. I live in Texas and I remember the incident, but never heard the whole story as presented in this documentary. The Marines were doing a good job being covert and I don’t think the kid had a clue at all that he was in danger, unless it was just an instinct he had that “something” was out there. How ironic that one of the Sherriff’s was the biggest drug smuggler of all, not the boy with a .22! Rather than have our military involved in border security, I’d like to see our other law enforcement officials given more support and resources to do their job even better. They are the ones best trained and prepared and have the greater knowledge about the culture of the area. Our government recently gave Mexico millions of dollars and equipment (including eight helicopters) to aid their “war on drugs” – and our border patrol wanted to know if they could have just one little helicopter to aid their own efforts on our side! Cocaine was recently discovered hidden in Jesus statues, the cheap kind sold at the border markets. My point is: drug smugglers don’t walk around nonchalantly, shooting a .22 into the brush. I’m glad, too, that the three Marines with were willing to talk about it, and I think it might have even been cathartic. Thanks, PBS, for giving a voice to this story.

  • Donna B.

    FOREIGNID: 16560
    As a life long Texas resident who has seen the direct effects upon community crime, influx of illegal immigrant’s children in our schools and the lack of respect for our laws by illegal Hispanics, I am all for a secure border. One of my dearest friends is Hispanic and when she arrived here from Mexico City, she did not speak any English at all. She worked extremely hard, followed the proper rules and now works in our school system teaching ESL. I am totally for immigration as long as those desiring to come here do it legally. Because so many from Mexico try to cross the boarder illegally, the American citizens deserve the protection. Different parts of the country have different levels of safety and you have to weigh that as you choose where to settle. While this is a tragic story, it is quite one sided. Just as those residents of Texas who have illegals living in their community effecting their way of life. These people have no intent of becoming a contributing, tax paying, citizen who would fight for our liberty or serve the American people in service. They are here for one thing only – to make more money without paying American taxes or fees and get there kids here for a better education. Recently, I crossed the border myself with my own child for a mission trip in Mexico. I was stopped, my passport checked, questioned, and my van searched. These American citizens who have relatives across the boarder – need to go through the exact same check I do with my son. What about flying back into the country from Turkey, Iran, or Germany? There are “border” checks. To remain free, the government must check to see who is entering our country. It just so happens that along the long land boarder of Mexico & USA, it is simply not that easy as an airport and illegals pour over the border unchecked. Back to that trip I just took over the boarder to Mexico, I kept thinking why are these people so desolate? What could these people do to turn this around? At the core of that answer is looking at our country and the foundations it was built upon – Freedom, Liberty and God’s principles. To bad PBS is promoting a different agenda these days. America is not stumbling due to the “Republicans vs. Democrat’s policies,” but rather abandoning the founding principles based upon God’s word.

  • David

    FOREIGNID: 16561
    It has been said that we have lost our innocence. Study your history and realize that we never had it. We have only been very good at hiding our true character. The world has turned against us and will work to bring us down. America needs to come home and heal itself. This program portrays a symptom of our sickness. My sorrow goes out to the Hernandez family. There is no excuse for this. None. The tools were available to determine whether this young man was a threat or not….and he wasn’t. Of course, this young man’s family deserved their day in court in order to make that determination. They were denied………eventually each one of us will suffer the result of any failure in the system because these failures compound themselves.

  • Sam Katz

    FOREIGNID: 16562
    Other comments have made the good point that the military is not trained for circumstances involving contact with civilians, as indeed the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 mentioned above presciently provided for. We saw the soldiers in the documentary camouflaged in a way that no youth at a distance could have recognized them as humans, and yet none of the soldiers projected themselves into the position of the youth and asked themselves what the youth sees; they could have easily realized the youth likely thought he was shooting at an animal. This further shows how soldiers trained for military combat circumstances will see
    matters from that point of view and cannot be depended on to use better objective judgment where circumstances warrant. I agree with those saying putting the military into a job like this, where there is proximity to civilians, is bad judgment from
    those in the position of leaders.

  • Utah

    FOREIGNID: 16563
    Was he crossing the boarder or not? Whose property was he on at the time? Did I miss the answer to the basic questions? While the shooting looks like it was a mistake, the family still doesn’t have any problem crossing the boarder without permission. That attitude got the man killed. We need to secure the boarder, and those against this are using the tragic death of a young man as a pawn. PSB should have run a disclaimer that the purpose of the film wasn’t to solve the problems, or do anything more than to try to stop securing our boarder. We have had millions of people crossing the boarder in violation of international law. Teach that to those on the other side of the US border, and perhaps we can have fewer people killed. I would never think of crossing into Mexico or Canada except at approved locations. I have been in 16 countries, and I have never illegally crossed a border. Instead of using this tragedy, we get this piece of propaganda.

  • Linda Connolly

    FOREIGNID: 16564
    I think this show was put together really well. I read in several post that the young student should have
    put his weapon down when instrcted to do so by the Marines. No where in the movie did I hear anyone state that the Marines actually gave the order for him to drop his rifle. Marines are trained to kill and that is what they did. This is why I feel like it is a mistake to have the Millitary deployed on the border unless it can be done in such a way to protect the people on both sides of the border.
    Yes, there is a huge problem with drugs entering the USA the solution is toto do more to stop the demand for drugs in our country. Many Americans complain about all of the illegal s entering our country every day. It is human nature to want to live in one’s own country but when people can’t afford to take care of their own they will go where they can. Why doesn’t the USA invest more time and effort helping Mexico and South American to become more developed Nations? Instead we invest in China a communist country. If Mexico and South America were more prosperous they would be part of the solution to keeping terrorists out of our country and theirs. I know it may not be as simple as I have written but a truly strong Nation with safe borders depends on the neighbors on both sides of the borders.

  • Michael Caruso

    FOREIGNID: 16565
    I thought this was a very interesting piece about an issue that faces us all and sparks much controversy, and unfortunately ethnocentrism and ignorance to the issues. The best part is the set up of the culture at the border and how it comes in conflict with U. S. government policies and goals. The border is a fluid area with a distinct culture and history which does not conform to U.S. citizens notions of it is us against them. I noticed a posting saying quote, “If he was an american the he should have understood english enough to know to put the gun down.” Note: I took this quote as is, the person who wrote it can not spell American or English. Esequiel Hernández could speak English the film crew interviewed his English teacher at the U.S. High School he went to. Nobody wants to address the issue that our border policies will not work and people need to understand that these people are not our enemies or to be feared. We all live together and share economies, cultures, lives, and citizenship. Esequiel Hernández’s father is Mexican, but all his children are U.S. born citizens according to the film. Also, ever since we created this border people have lucidly passed back and forth and on both sides the economies and peoples benefit. Drugs are a demand problem. We provide the market for what we are trying to prevent. As for the Marine Snipers, they stalked and killed a U.S. citizen. End of story. Unfortunately none seemed the least bit guilt ridden about it. I also would not like to live in the community where Torres is a police officer.
    Michael Caruso

  • Jeffrey

    FOREIGNID: 16566
    To Shawn McCreight and others of his kind. Yup, there is a border. Do you think there should be walls and fences from Mexicali to the port outside Brownsville? These people on the American side have been walking across to see family and friends on the Mexican side ever since Santa Anna got his kiester kicked out of Texas. Should they be shot if they come back across at any place other than a proper check point? How much money should we spend to “secure” the border? how will it be done? but before you give flippant answers to these questions we should look at why is there such an influx of ‘illegales’ now compared to 50 years ago?
    What are the causes? (It’s not just the lack of a physical blockade) Will a fence work? It didn’t in Berlin, nor East Germany, nor in greater Germany where my uncle was caught a few miles from the Swiss border and sent to Dachau to meet his fate.
    This young American citizen lost his life to flawed political thinking. The young marine nearly his age who pulled the trigger was the end instrument of that policy. If we as citizens cannot understand what makes America great and different from the rest of the nations on earth then we risk becoming what we innitially detested. Militarization of our borders, concertina wired fences, checkpoints on our freeways away from the border…like the one outside of TruthorConcequences, New Mexico. All this smacks too close to the “Ihre Papieren, bitte” (your papers please) under another regime done away with a few years back. They had ‘auswhal und umshlagplatz’ (selection and the assembly place). The attitudes that permitted these things to get started are showing up here. Folks, we need to study the past so we don’t make the same mistakes of others in our future. The laws we create need to be carefully balanced against the freedoms we stand to loose by some of their implementation to make us ‘more secure’.
    When I was asked at the freeway check point 75 miles away from the border in NM where had I been and what had I been doing I responded that my Utah licence plates, registration, and drivers licence speak for themselves and the rest wasn’t any of his business. I told him this is America not the III Riech. Anything that takes us in that direction I will resist with every fiber of my being.

  • Charles G. Ernst Jr

    FOREIGNID: 16567
    JESUS WILL JUDGE EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THIS OBVIOUS COVER UP. What is worse pulling the trigger, or PULLING the STRINGS? GOD hates a liar.
    and yet ‘you tell’ GOD to “Bless America” I am sorry for this man and family.

  • Maria Torres

    FOREIGNID: 16568
    .I remember this incident. but was not aware of all the facts. Thank you for reminding us of how are government works. I felt so bad for Esquivel’s family esspeically his mother. To bury your son or daughter is the worse thing a parent can do and then not even to fully find out why this happen. Why couldn’t that Marine approach the family and apologize for his stupidity. I cross the boarder often and most of the time the individuals checking your papers are so rude and ugly and of course they have to be mexicans. When will it end. Your are correct we the Berlin wall has been built in Texas. I wonder if Perry or Bush ever Watch this program. The government needs to check out the immigrants that come from the middle east, they are the evil ones, the terrorist.

  • concerned american

    FOREIGNID: 16569
    It’s a disgrace to us citizens who really have served our time defending this country. Yes our military has defended and preserved our freedom, but if you truly understand the history of our government, you will know that our military has been used for personal political agendas. Unfortunately these 4 men were put into a no win position at a very young age. Their personal pride was taken advantage of and preyed upon by the powers of our government.
    Yes, they are personally responsible for killing a young man who may have been innocent. The fact that they were used as scapegoats and their actions were portrayed as honorable by the military is the real issue here. The united states government does do plenty of good in this country but they also do plenty of injustices against the people here.
    I served my time in the military, sweat, dirt, blood and tears, but that was not an excuse to do human injustices. I think everyone should be accountable to treat all humans equally. None of us chose to be born in this country or any other place in the world. We were blessed to have been born here and we should take the responsibility of making the whole world a better place.
    Starting with educating ourselves on exactly what we are being taught by our peers, then making our peers responsible for the positions they have been put in by the people of this country. My children and your children, our parents, friends and relatives are all human. If you really want to do something about what you saw in the documentary, then educate yourself on the facts. If the borders were completely open, then all of us would have an equal playing field.
    Then no one would have to control anyone else. Education is not your american given right, it is your birth right, just as it is to any other human. By the way, I am as white and as american as anyone else in this country, so are my parents, and their parents, and their parents.
    Go to japan, and read their version of the war, and you will find it to be naturally different from any american’s version. Remember this though, it was not the soldiers who created the war, it was a few in power who made the decision.
    It was not us, (the soldiers) who decided to attack iraq (the big threat to our freedom), it was a few people in power. I’m not anti-government, and I’m not anti-military, what I am simply curious enough to look at the world with an open mind.
    All is not as it seems, and this documentary, in my opinion, should simply open people’s minds to educating themselves on our current events. Hopefully we will be able to have a decent place to live with freedom. Too much government and too much military control will cause america to be another russia, or another iraq. Any one who thinks that we have total freedom should absorb this blessing, but at the same time should realize everything here is not as it seems. For the sake of ourselves and our children we need to hold our government responsible for better actions, and making better decisions.

  • jacobi

    FOREIGNID: 16570
    The producer had a very clear agenda when producing this film and those who cannot see it are probably on the same side as him. It is tragic that a young man was shot and killed, but to punish the soldier for a crime that is purely speculation would be a greater tragedy by far. This film was very emotionally driven, but if you stop and consider the pure facts or lack thereof, you cannot reasonably come to the conclusion that the soldier should have been punished. It is possible that he is guilty of what people are accusing him of, but convicting someone of a crime without the supporting evidence is a dangerous thing to do.

  • Josiah

    FOREIGNID: 16571
    To Michel and Ernst
    Of course the shooter doesn’t feel remorse, he was executing the response that the military trained him to do, once that first shot was fired he was running on trained responses not cognitive thought… see my first post for my full view. The military should of never been used for a Law Enforcement matter.

  • Chrissy from San Antonio

    FOREIGNID: 16572
    I remember this case, because I remember the boy being so young. I’m happy to be an 8th generation Texas and know what it is to be born and raised here. This is home and this was Esequiel’s home where he was simply going out to tend his livestock. Normal and common here. What is not normal and common here is seeing men in camoflauge hiding in a border thicket(where it’s hot,with thick brush,and ants everywhere) as described by these tough Marines. Esequiel was only 18 years old and didn’t know who or what was going on and intended obviously to protect himself and his herd. Who knows what was running through his mind,but he must have been scared or suspicious enough to fire. Maybe if the community had known or been warned that there would be military presence or just”exercises”going on, this tragedy could have been averted. The young Marines would have never been heard of and a young boy would still be alive. I understand the Marines were out there on orders and fighting a war on drugs that is endless. I respect the military and I know America needs to defend the border from terrorism, criminal illegal immigrants, and drug smugglers. This is a job for the United States Border Patrol and ICE Customs not the National Guard, and I don’t believe the border needs military patrol. The fence will fail.The border is too vast and the money is better spent on more agents, equipment, and horses if need be in order to patrol it. When Esequiel was killed by the Marines remember that Clinton was in office,not Bush I or Bush Jr. Supposedly a President(who didn’t inhale?) that cared for his Latino voters yet with him at the helm,this case floundered and the Hernandez family received no justice and only pain. Politicians never change and will always use the war on drugs as a tough mantra because they know it will never end so long as Americans like to get high and will use it as a pawn to get votes from Americans who think that controlling the big bad border with Mexico will make a difference. But it was a small community on the Texas border that lost a son to this ‘get tough mantra” before the war on terror was ever heard of. What truly strikes me as odd is that the Marines did nothing to save the boy. Even with a possible broken neck, once they knew that he might still be alive there was a chance to save him. Even in Iraq today, the enemy is treated alongside American wounded in an a triage hospital, but here in the United States with trained Marines this young boy was left in a well,feet up, and left to die by military men trained to protect Americans such as himself. People in Texas will not stop carrying .22′s,scatterguns,and handguns. We use them to hunt,and for protection.This is normal and a right. I’m a woman and as a child of 7 I was firing my Daddy’s .22 on our ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Esequiel had every right to carry his gun, but he also had a right to know that there might be Marines doing their job and that he may be fired upon if mistaken for a drug smuggler herding goats. I think the Marine in charge should have been charged. If you take up a weapon for the USA,on American land,you must be prepared to take the credit when the mission goes clean,but also be responsible for tragedy and all that comes with it when things go bad. The Hernandez family will alway feel loss, pain,grief ,and suffering for their son.Only those who have lost without justice in this manner can know that it cuts deep and never heals. I pray for their family,for the marines who were sent where they should not have been and in a situation too deep for the most seasoned military men. The military should only be used in times of violent invasion, an attack on U.S. soil by a foreign military, or terrrorists when a clear and present danger to the United States exists. Bless the Hernandez family for their heavy loss. Que Dios los bendiga y que la Madre de Dios ruega por tu familia.
    Con todo respecto,

  • Patrick

    FOREIGNID: 16573
    The documentary was very moving & sad at the end when Mr. Madrid showed some pictures of young Esequiel with Ms. Bush. The problem with this country is that it is still being run by policitians that don’t see Mexican-Americans as equal. If this situation would have happened to the “Smiths” or the “O’ Reillys” of America, oh no your talking law suits. Where is the justice? Or did they forget he was an American too? It was a sensless tragedy for this young boy to have lost his life on U.S. soil where he grew up. Thanks PBS for broadcasting this story. This story needed to be told.

  • M M in Texas

    FOREIGNID: 16574
    People that have not lived in Texas all their lives would probably never understand the fluidity with which Americans and Mexican-Americans move back and forth across the border as a way of life. Only in recent history since we developed the money making project of the “War on Drugs” has this become an issue. Build a 2000 mile fence and folks will simply invest in ladders. And now is not the time to become stoic about following “rules of the borders” as stated in a previous post. How would you like it if one day someone told you that you could no longer leave your county? You couldn’t visit your relatives out of state? This is not something that is going to correct itself overnight, and is certainly not the place for military intervention. Only those who live along the border and are familiar with the territory i.e. local law enforcement agencies and Border Patrol have the experience and insight it takes to do this very difficult job. Four young boys with Marine training had no business being there, and it is obvious that Hernandez was tracked down and killed by choice. However, shame on the superiors who did not take better control of those Marines and give them clearer direction, and even more guilty are the politicians who put them there in the first place. Come to Texas…see how huge this place is…look at the people that live here and the culture that was here long before we were, and maybe–just maybe you can get a better idea of what a virtually impossible task “securing the border” really is.
    Thank you PBS for telling this story. The film was beautiful, the footage timely, and the story was a tragic lesson that all Americans should consider.

  • Eugenia Fernandez

    FOREIGNID: 16575
    Where really are our priorities? We as a nation are too wrapped up in border
    security. I am also concerned about the immigrant facility in Taylor, TX. Most
    people don’t know it exists, but you can learn about it and other similar
    facilities at http://tdonhutto.blogspot.com/.

  • Eric Roembach

    FOREIGNID: 16576
    Hi all. I’m am very blog UNsavvy so please bear with me. First and foremost I absolitely believe that securing ALL of our borders is a matter of UTMOST NATIONAL SECURITY!! I’ll expand on that a little later. As for the Hernandez episode, it was a tradgedy for him, his family, and for the four Marines.
    Now let’s break this down. When my father taught me how to use firearms the first rule was to NEVER NEVER put a round down range unless I was absolutely POSITIVE that what I was shooting at, and secondly to be absolutely POSITIVE that there were no “INNOCENTS” in my field of fire. Innocents being any person or animal or property that might be damaged. What was this man doing firing into a wooded brushy area that he clearly could not see into with any degree of certainty as to what might be there? And by the way I’m sick of hearing Mr. Hernandez being referred to as a kid or a child. When I was only two years older the he I was flying a helicopter in Vietnam, and my door gunner was 17 years old. And that was the rule and not the exception. What does anybody think would have been the result of his idiotic and extremely dangerous actions if by chance there had been drug or alien smugglers secreted in those bushes. Mr. Hernandez own stupid behavior created this tragedy. I take no pleasure in saying that but is the fact of the matter.
    As to the actions of the four Marines, well they were equally at fault it goes without saying. Why in the world there were no warnings shoute, or warning shots fired is beyond me. Clearly the Marines, in full camo gear, could have subdued Mr. Hernandez without exposing themselves to further undue danger. HOWEVER, one needs to remember that they were given clearance to fire on the percieved threat by their command authority. From what I gathered from the program the three Marines who did not fire were not aware that their companion was going to shoot at that time and I hold those three men not only innocent in the legal sense but in a moral sense. As for the Marine who fired the fatal shot, only he can know what he is and is not guilty of. But I would forcefully state to anyone who has not been taken under fire that they have no earthly idea how theatened one feels at such a time, and that one’s only priorty becomes to put an end to the threat. This I KNOW, nobody who has not been under fire can walk a mile in the shoes of those Marines, so don’t kid yourselves.
    At the opening of this missive I said I would touch upon why I think border security and control is vital to our national security. Clearly no one knows the real number of criminal aliens in our country, but there is almost universal agreement that there are tens of millions. As far as I’m concerned they are ALL nothing more than career criminals. Due to their presence in America literally Trillions of dollars have been drained from our national economy over the years. Wages and benifits have been driven to the lowest point in decades in terms of real purchasing power. That is simply a fact, and doesn’t even account for the monies sent south of the border for the most part. But let’s not forget about the millions, possibly billions that went into the coffers of the IRA, and other places as well. Then I would ask anyone to justify to me the near destruction of the California public school system by the NON tax paying illeagals whose children we pay to educate. And it’s not just California. Why not spend a few minutes thinking about the abuse of not only our health care systems but the whole range of social services that have been strained to the breaking point by criminal aliens. As for me, I don’t care if they hail from India or Ireland or Latin America or Africa I want them all sent home and permantly barred from holding U.S. citizenship. I don’t care if they jumped the border or overstayed a Visa or what. My vote is to severely fine them one and all, and deport them. There have been and are now millions who have followed all the rules to attain legal status and they are among the folks penalizes by the criminals. And I’m all for busting the chops of the employers who have preyed on the criminal aliens knowingly.
    Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am in general a pretty liberal Democrat. And they would be correct. But around the issue of the criminal alien population in America I admit that I feel things have gone too far for too long, and at this point I’m all for the Kill, Maim, Rape, Pillage, and Burn approach. While that’s clearly not the PC view it’s how I feel.
    When my nation called, I served. And as a result of my service to my country I have been 100% permanently and totally disabled since 1992. I paid for my citizenship with blood, bone and flesh. Literally. And there are areas all over this nation where I can’t even buy gas or groceries using English as the Lingua Franca!! I’m not sure I even recognize America any more, and it has nothing to do with skin color or national origin. But for my money it’s way past time to stop giving our country away.
    And that’s all folks.
    edited by moderator for language

  • john ontieveros

    FOREIGNID: 16577
    this will be my third time, and getting late. To the brainless please edcuated your self before some one makes a fool of you. To other’s remember we are all humans with rights to blame other’s please get in line as it goes to the marines all the ways to the top I hope you can sleep at night I pray for you’al Out prayers to the Hernandez Family, and hope Justice will be come your way.

  • Thomas Kopper

    FOREIGNID: 16578
    Do you want to stop fluidity, drugs, illegal aliens, and possible terrorists infiltrating our border? Don’t build a flimsy fence but a wall like the Israelis have built between them and the west bank of “Palestine”. Only we should have armed guard towers every 500 yardswith stk orders (from SanDiego to the Gulf of Mexico) forcing anyone and everything through choke points every 50 miles. Thats SECURITY!
    If problems get bad up north we’ll do the same.

  • charles

    FOREIGNID: 16579
    this program cuts to the heart of the issues facing our nation today. First, the approach of the federal government to control immigration using the pretext of national security. Second, the use of military force wherever the administration feels it should. Both of these issues concern me. Where do we draw the line on what constitutes national security? Where do we draw the line on use of military force? I truly am concerned for this nation of ours. I want to believe in our president and our country, but find myself seriously questioning where our leaders are taking us.

  • James

    FOREIGNID: 16580
    Clearly “death by misadventure”. Military leaders and politicians need to share blame on this one. Turns out the sheriff was the drug smuggler! Very poor investigative work by USMC! Calling the local game warden instead of shooting the kid would have been the best action. Why was “military intelligence” so poor? Enough video was presented to see the kid was “outgunned”! Why did officers not look more closely before allowing orders to return fire?

  • Geoff Pritchard

    FOREIGNID: 16581
    First – great film that evokes a lot of anger and disgust in what we allow to take place in the US. That was a flat out murder. Shot in the back w/ a high powered weapon from a camoflauged position. Very brave.
    Second – I don’t care what marines or any other branch of the military are “trained” to do. If you can’t think and exercise some personal responsibility (particularly when you have a loaded weapon in your hand), then I sure don’t want you loose in society after your discharged!
    Third – To Thomas Koppper -when your teenage son is out one night drinking or joy-riding with his buddies and he gets too close to your “choke points” and gets killed – Is that still worth it? NOW THAT”S WHAT THIS TYPE OF SECURITY WILL GET YOU.

  • Charles

    FOREIGNID: 16582
    What a pathetic left-wing hit job. This is the network we pay for with our tax dollars. THAT has to end. Left wingers can spend as much of Souros’s money as they want making and airing propaganda films. It is insane to be spending sane persons’ tax dollars on it.
    The film was pathetic and maudlin in its teary emotional appeals. Somehow it manged to be anit-Bush, while the events happened under the Clinton administration! Typical left-wing approach… appeal to emotions, don’t really deal with issues or thinking things through. Place blame by insinuation and musical selections. Perhaps if they had cut short some of the long wistful teary eyed scenes they would have been able to have enough time to actually shed some light on the issues behind border enforcement.
    I thought it was interesting that the dead kid’s Dad (is that right?) made the comment about how “his people” had been crossing that “border” for 12,000 year. This is the old argument that the American borders are illegitimate, and that the American people do not have the right to control borders that not been enforced in the past.
    I know it makes things tough on people around border regions when it becomes necessary to enforce borders… but could they actually be serious that they have a moral right to ignore laws and borders? Perhaps if this pathetic man had taught his son a little respect for the law, the kid would be alive today.

  • Steven Fernandez

    FOREIGNID: 16583
    Let’s take a look back at what founded this great country you call America. First it was named after British Entreprenuer & Mapmaker John Amerike (not Amerigo Vespucci as some have claimed) and was a country created by Illegal immigration of British, French, Dutch, and Polish peoples. Nobody was protecting the borders for the Native people when your ancestors came by sea to cheat, steal, and kill for Native land- Land which we never claimed ownership over. Then you commit to policies that violate your own Constitution, a document which has been clearly documented Ben Franklin borrowed from the Iroquois Confederacy, by calling it “Manifest Destiny”. Then you terrorize the natural inhabitants with death and distruction, utilizing the military acting as police officers and ensuring all savages will be dealt with deadly force. Then’ you round up those survivors on concentration camps called “Reservations” and award Medals of Honor to military soldiers for killing innocent women and children who were defenseless as their men were hunting. So who should be grateful for the United States (your real name, not America-that is what this twin continent is called) ensuring freedom to all Native inhabitants?
    You sit in your homes and defend men who help to ensure Freedom when you yourselves allow your personal feedoms to slip from your own grasps by means of Governmental control. You defend a President who has literally bankrupted the country, while criticizing how he does his job and all the problems he has created? You defend a war that is unnecessary, but complain about the casualties that surmount on a daily basis and asking for our troops to be brought back? We claim to be spreading Freedom and Democracy, but do you realize we are a REPUBLIC and not a DEMOCRACY? No where in our Constitution does it state we are a democracy- and to villianize another culture is to step back to the time of the “Indian Wars” when Native Americans were villianized as being evil. Mr. Esequiel Hernandez was a Jumano-Hispano Native and had rights here in the US and Texas to be where he was ad the right to bear a firearm (the Bill of Rights 2ND Amendment) as protection. To say he should have understood english is a farce in itself. Assimilation is what keeps th “English only” mentality alive and well in the here and now. The trigger happy Marines were not in aposition to engae any potential “targets” or “supects”, they were in a suporting role to observe only! Plus, they never identified themselves as US Marines before firing on the young man, which is the policy of the Military,”Shoot first, ask questions later.” If any police or Law Enforcement Officer proceeded as these four Marines did by not identifying themselves as peace officers, they would be prosecutd to the full extent of the law. As we have seen in the past, the Laws are manipulated to help the guilty and the criminal to circumvent any accountability for their actions. You can’t change the rules and be above the law, that is not what this country was founded on, but “liberty and justice for all.” We need to hold our government accountable and quit giving our inherent rights over to government bureaucracies and agencies. You can’t compalin about the state of affairs if you are responsible for creating it in the first place. We should be lending a hand to our citizens instaed of pointing fingers. Besides , did you know that most Terrorists come by way of the Canadian Border as opposed to the Mexican Border? And where is the wall for Canada? Who Polices the Canadian border? Think about it and get off the Illegal issue, because then all of you know that you should be deported as well.

  • Dakota

    FOREIGNID: 16584
    First, I want to thank PBS and all connected with this film, for having the courage to present this information to the public.
    Second, I want to express how sorry I am that this happened to the Hernandez family.
    I am an honorably discharged veteran. One who has always supported the military, law enforcement and fire departments. However, I draw the line at covering for bad behavior – no matter who does it.
    Watching this film made me feel dirty, especially after listening to the comments by Kenneth Bacon, the then Assistant Secretary of Defense.
    Without doubt, Kenneth Bacon was very deceitful with the facts, for the purpose of minimizing the accountability of the government. He spun things to put the circumstances in a more favorable light for the government.
    Clearly, this incident did not have to happen. The Marines communicating with their superiors were fabricating the seriousness of the event. Their higher-ups should have taken better, more direct control, over the situation, but they did not. They are equally culpable.
    There were four young Marines, one of whom was a little trigger-happy. The evidence shows that he intended to ‘neutralize’ the subject, from the start.
    We see this type of behavior all too frequently, when police fire up to 75 rounds at a subject, because someone thought the subject had a gun, when it turned out to be a bottle of Coke or a hair brush, or something just as silly. Or, the body had 13 to 30 bullet wounds. We read about these types of things all the time, and these matters involve ‘trained’ police officers.
    We also see the rank and file police, and in this case, the military, “close the ranks”, so everyone gets their story straight.
    How the U.S. government handled the Esequiel Hernandez matter is absolutely disgusting and very disturbing.
    It is a too bad that the Texas Good Ol’ Boy system grand jury decided to close ranks and not recommend prosecution.
    It is laughable to even THINK that Esequiel was aiming at, or taking a pot shot, at any of those extremely well camouflaged Marines. More than likely, he was just firing his .22 caliber rifle at a small target – a rock or piece of wood, not anywhere near the Marines.
    At the distance the Marines were from Esequiel, there is absolutely no way that he could have seen them, even with binoculars, which he did not have.
    Yet, the Marines, or at least one of them, felt a surge of fervor, a shot of adrenaline, to imagine that Esequiel had fired a shot at them. The active imagination took over, to escalate the situation.
    Then, clearly ‘tracking’ the quarry for a very long distance, and shooting him in the back or side, proves that Esequiel was not aiming at the Marines.
    That Marine will have to live with what he did for the rest of his life. The real disturbing thing about it is this: he feels completely justified in doing what he did. It was all part of the military tough guy actions. When in fact, the shooter, dishonored not only himself, but the U.S. Marine Corps as well.
    It is long past the time when someone from the Government and the Marines, should take responsibility for flawed judgment, for not following the Rules of Engagement, and for covering up a horrific misdeed.
    However it is not too late.
    Someone needs to say, “We made a mistake, and we are sorry for what happened,” and, there should be a hefty financial settlement to the Hernandez family.
    That attorney who defended the shooter needs to reexamine his thinking, because he was an overt part of the cover-up. To see him say how proud he was to be a Texan, almost made me sick to my stomach.

  • Kathy

    FOREIGNID: 16585
    Thank you, POV, for airing the tragic story, “The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez”.
    I’m appalled that the 4 Marines, who watched and tracked Mr. Hernandez’s movements – through high-powered binoculars – for some distance/time, never saw the goats behind him (which were plainly visible to tv viewers of the film). Their seeming failure to notice the herd of goats behind Mr. Hernandez made me wonder” Do all drug smugglers and/or terrorists bring goats with them whenever they try to transport drugs/WMD’s/dirty bombs across the border, in an effort to foil those patrolling the border?
    It’s surprising that the Marines, being extensively trained in all aspects/types of weaponry, were unable to recognize that Mr. Hernandez was carrying only a small calibre rifle – not an RPG or bazooka – or, anything that could conceivably contain illegal drugs..
    But, it doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Hernandez fired at “something” in the distance -several yards away from him and his goats. It’s likely that at that great a distance, he didn’t recognize the figures/movement he saw as 4 Marines, given that he did not have high-powered binoculars and given that the Marines were “camouflaged” as short trees/tall shrubbery. It’s seems logical, to me, that Mr. Hernandez would have a rifle with him and that he might fire it upon detecting either movement or unidentifiable figures in the distance because he thought that the movement/figures could be either drug smugglers disguised as flora, or coyotes looking to “dine” on his goats. Unfortunately, for him, he turned out to be wrong.
    To station military personnel at the border – on the off-chance that Osama bin Ladin will be crossing into America, accompanied by members of Al Qaeda dressed in goats clothing – is a not a good idea. It wasn’t a good idea when George H.W. Bush deployed them at the border and it wasn’t/isn’t a good idea that his son decided to do that as well. Military personnel are trained to shoot to kill, (or “neutralize”, to use their euphemism) – and for good reason, when deployed in a war zone where chaos reigns, especially during firefights and it is, under other circumstances, next to impossible to tell the difference between “friendlies” and the enemy.
    Watching this story reminded me of the Kent State University debacle, when one of the National Guardsmen deployed on the campus fired his weapon, whereupon several other guardsmen followed suit. His erroneous and unfortunate decision caused the deaths of several students and the wounding of several more.
    Unless the Marines were given orders to shoot to kill anything that moves and unless they could hear Mr. Hernandez’s ammunition whizzing close by their heads, why was it necessary for them to shoot and kill him? Mr. Hernandez was not observed carrying anything that contained drugs or could have been construed as heavier artillery. He was not observed to be trying to hide something, or to be retrieving anything – other than his goats. Were there not other options available to the Marines to handle the situation besides deciding to shoot and kill Mr. Hernandez? If Mr. Hernandez was such a “threat” to the Marines (thought it’s difficult to imagine that one 22 rifle is any kind of threat against four M-l6′s) why did they track his movements for so long, only to decide, in the end, to to kill him?
    It’s unfathomable why at least one of the Marines – the one who pulled the trigger of his M-16 rifle – was not prosecuted for killing Mr. Hernandez. It’s unfortunate that neither any of the Marines or the Marine Corps apologized – either directly, or through an intermediary – to the Hernandez family for killing their son.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the Hernandez family. I hope that, one day soon, they receives justice for the death of their son, Esequiel.
    Thank you, again, for airing this heart-wrenching story.

  • Craig Kreger

    FOREIGNID: 16586
    First, I wish bloggers on here would get the story straight. Nowhere in this documentary did the marines involved state that they told Hernandez to put his rifle down. As well, after over a decade these marines should get their story straight. Either they were there for surveillance purposes only, or they were there to interdict drug runners. Second, conflating the issue of illegal immigration with this incident and the purpose of that mission are two completely different issues.
    What a lot of people on here seem to be missing is that an American citizen was murdered by some of the very same ones that purport to be protecting us. Well, as their employer I say, �Not in my name and not with my tax dollars, thanks anyway.� How protected did the American citizenry feel after Kent State? This rhetoric comes in many forms whether it�s Ruby Ridge, a phony war in Iraq, or illegal wiretaps to name only a few. I don�t respect people who buy into this militaristic propaganda either. That one caller in the film who professed to �love the military,� I�m sure had �loved� half of them at the local base. I�m also getting really tired of the adrenaline junkies and community college dropouts acting like they�re the assault team from a Tom Clancy novel. What, did these guys get turned down by Wal-Mart? Apparently, one of them is a cop now. I can only imagine the lawsuit brewing wherever he patrols. Please, for the love of God, don�t send him on any drug raids.
    Finally, if the gentleman (murderer) who shot this kid thought it was such a righteous shoot, why didn�t he appear in this documentary? I knew a guy who did reconnaissance missions into North Vietnam and his commanders were very specific that they not shoot under any circumstances. The film is very thought-provoking even with its flaws, and there are several: the last several minutes of montage footage and a much too drawn out running time among them. Nor, did I appreciate being painted with the same broad brush as the political opportunists and outright liars displayed near the ending because I support getting tough with illegal immigrants.

  • Roberta

    FOREIGNID: 16587
    Thank you for sharing the Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez. I feel real sad for the family and at the same time was thankful that the Love of God is still present in their hearts and that the family ultimately knows where their strength, power, and faith truly lies. As the government continues to push their agenda, innocent people will continue to cease to exist or will be brainwashed just like the gentleman who feels justified for taking the life of an innocent young man, the cherished son of a loving humble family. I could not help to wonder where or why we did not hear voices such as that of Rev. Jesse Jackson or Rev. Al Sharpton who are usually so quick to try to find out the whole story of why something seems to have gone very wrong with a situation.

  • Veronica Rogers

    FOREIGNID: 16588
    I was deeply moved by the story and also by the comments the filmmaker said at the end. It was very smartly put when he said that armed military is supposed to defend you from an enemy and in our borders that enemy doesn’t exist. I live in the border, there is no line for us, we cross that bridge like crossing a street, both Laredo’s are one community and to see that the Government wants to build fences, put armed military, etc. it just shames me. Americans from the interior should not make these decisions when they don’t fully understand our community.

  • Diana

    FOREIGNID: 16589
    I was very moved by the movie. I believe there is a better way of handling the immigration issue in this country. I guess the US Government forgets that these latinos are people too and should be treated like it. There are too many innocent killings that we don’t even hear about, cause the government is always sugar-coating everything. I hope and pray that the matter is resolved the best way possible for both sides. As for the Marine that killed the innocent boy, God will judge his fate. It’s a shame that just because you look latino, everyone thinks you are illegal. Are we going back to a racist nation? The United States is a land of freedom for all types of cultures, not just those of English desent. There are alot of ways the nation would be hurting if not for our latino workers, and people just don’t realize it. America-the land of opportunity….is it really? We can choose to be unselfish. If the Mexican government would make it easier for the latinos to come across we wouldn’t have this problem.

  • Dale Nulik

    FOREIGNID: 16590
    The Esequiel Hernandez story was good, but will happen again. Its just a matter of time. the Borders are not directly defendable, any person with half a brain understands that. Its just that we so often over react to perceived threats. Take Iraq, the Bush family, needs to stay in Texas and work on problems there and stay out of world affairs in which they have very little knowledge or common sense. The war in Iraq is proof of that, unless you consider how much money friends of the Bush’s in the oil industry have made because of the aftermat of the war in Iraq.
    anyhow, keep stories like the Hernandez coming to educate us all.

  • mjm

    FOREIGNID: 16591
    Does enyone know why WTTW cut the program short of its conclusion w/o warning to air the Business Report so we could be told gas prices are high and stocks are down?

  • http://www.pov.org Andrew Catauro

    FOREIGNID: 16592
    A quick note for our viewers in Chicago:
    WTTW aired only the first hour of The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez because of a technical glitch. They are re-airing the program in the overnight, at 3am this evening/Thursday morning. We encourage anyone who’d like to tape the last half hour to do so, and on behalf of the station, we’d like to apologize for the inconvenience!

  • veryupset

    FOREIGNID: 16593
    I cried during this documentary because of the humility of the family. They had no idea how to defend themselves, or how to fight back. i would also like to say that i saw sincerity in the three marines that spoke. i feel that it would help them and the family through these years if they went down and expressed their feelings. i think that it would help the marines out alot. the one thing that i am confused about is why the marine that fired the shot didn’t talk. maybe he feels he did the right thing and doesn’t need to justify anything. but i think that because he is or was a marine he has the responsibility to justify it to the american people and the Hernandez Family. Obviously Ezequiel was not into drugs otherwise the marines story would have been justified. This means that a “mistake” was made. But you know i’ve always thought that we are all going to get what’s coming to us. I know I am because i am no saint. And one more thing. who was that marine talking about we owe our freedom to the marines, that the breaths we take are thanks to them. i don’t think anyone argues that point, but what would he do, i wonder, if one day he has a son and his gets shot by marines? what is he going to say then? “well son, i am sorry your dead, but since a marine shot you it’s ok. he has the right to do that because he is protecting our freedom and our right to breathe.” IT MAKES ME SICK!

  • Margaret

    FOREIGNID: 16594
    This program was difficult for me to watch. It was disturbing and made me feel uncomfortable, helpless and then angry. This incident was a terrible tragedy and wrong. Esequiel should not have been shot. I feel so very sorry for his family. I’m glad that the film was made to honor Esequiel and to acknowledge the injustice that his family has suffered.
    After watching the show I found a website (Drug Policy Forum of Texas) which included a report on the Marine investigation on the incident. I seems to me that the Marines didn’t follow the rules of engagement or the policies from the Marine Manual on returning “enemy” fire.
    From the film and the report it was pretty clear that Esequiel never knew he was the “enemy” and he shouldn’t have been treated as an enemy. The Marines could have handled it much differently; they were the professionals and in control. Esequiel didn’t have to die. I wish there were some way for his family to have some sort of justice.
    The Website which has the Marine report is: http://www.dpft.org/hernandez/coyne.htm

  • Lucinda

    FOREIGNID: 16595
    It was a heartbreaking story from any point of view. The Marine who shot Esequiel didn’t appear to have any remorse, he was doing the “tough guy” routine with himself and his son, but there was one Marine, James Blood, for whom the incident changed his life. In fact he became an addict as a way of dealing or not dealing with the pain. There are so many victims in this story. The family of young Esequiel who must bear the pain of this unjustifiable killing and the Marines who were placed in a position that they should not have been in, that of patroling our borders in an area they knew nothing about. So many hard line comments in this blog. So many tough guys.

  • Barbara

    FOREIGNID: 16596
    This is a tough one to respond to but here is my opinion. First of let me say that I feel horrible for the family of Mr. Hernandez, and I also feel for those Marines who were only doing their job and what they were commanded to do. It was a tragic accident, and one that should have never happened. If the Marine Corps is going to put their Soliders in the field, they need to inform them of their surroundings. Familiarize them with the people who live there and their everyday lives, what they do and what to look for. For the Commanding officer, to approve the shooting of that innocent boy was wrong. He (the Commanding Officer) was not there and did not know of the people who lived in that immediate area, first mistake! He could have gotten information from the Border Patrol and found out information about the people living in that surrounding area and how they lived their everyday lives. Walking goats and so forth. He could then have directed his Soliders of what to look for and what to expect of the residence. A warning shot could have then been fired or a shot in the arm or leg could have been shot.
    I do not blame the Marine Soliders for the shooting. However I do blame their Commanding Officer, and the Marine Corps its self. I believe that the Marine Corps should compensate the family of the young man if they haven’t already.
    I believe this young man, Mr. Hernandez, believed he was shooting at wild animals that were trying to hurt his goats. Though I don’t agree that he should have shot the gun not knowing what it was he was shooting at. It could have been anything or anyone out there, and he should have been taught not to jump at any little thing, or shoot at any little thing that moved. That would have, in my opinion, prevented any of this horrible tragedy first and foremost.

  • Thais

    FOREIGNID: 16597
    Once again, several thoughts come to mind. 1) 4 trained military against an 18 yr old. 2) weapons of the military far outweighed the 22 rifle the boy had. 3) marines had binoculars and if they had had judgment, could have waited to see if action was appropriate 4) boy took rifle with him because a) Texans do that and b) he had seen dogs worrying his goats. 5) boy saw something move in the brush and fired a “warning” shot. He hurt no one. 6) If I saw 4 “indescribable beings” as the marines camaflage, I would not have know they were “my” military defending me 7) And just why could not one of the marines shoot the boy in a leg, arm or something taking him alive till they learned of their bad judgment and finally 8) All too often we send trained young men in the military to a situation where they are hot, bug invested, with loaded weapons, and hyped up to “get ‘em” all that added to bordom and you have the receipe for this type of shame. Americans have grown down little, it takes longer and longer for maturity to set in. Judgment does not come with a loaded weapon. I don’t blame the young man who did the killing. I blame our military who simply train young men to attack. Judgment, common sense should come first.


    FOREIGNID: 16598

  • Gary

    FOREIGNID: 16599
    This episode of POV was well done for the most part, but once again it illustrated the blatantly leftist policies of PBS. To attempt to indict the current president by using that distorted picture of him at the end of the show was beneath contempt. The shooting occured during the Clinton administration and while the producers showed one brief clip of President Clinton, they blamed the entire incident on President GHW Bush. One could hope for more balanced journalism from a network we support with our tax dollars!!!

  • Mary Alice Perez

    FOREIGNID: 16600
    Thank you for providing this great documentary on Esequiel Hernandez, Jr.. It is good to know that for once the U.S. Federal Agents acknowledged the injustice brought upon the Hernandez family by the military. It is sad that they were not punished for the crime committed, because they were provided a high paying good talking lawyer. It is ashame that good honest human beings have to suffer at the hands of professional criminals. I believe the Hernandez family is due some compensation for their loss and suffering.

  • Vincent Chang

    FOREIGNID: 16601
    As a veteran, I understand both sides. I find it is very hard to watch a U.S. military person killed an American. That is opposite of what an American military member is, and sworn to do. The Marines did their job, but they killed an American. They should not be punished, but surely should made to understand that they killed an American. The Marines should not be ordered to do law enforcements on the homeland in the first place. That’s why there is a law against that.

  • Robert Cumberland

    FOREIGNID: 16602
    Congratulations on your wonderful documentary. I was very impressed by your sensitivity to the Hernandez family as well as to the soldiers. I am from South Texas(Kingsville) and saw illegal Mexicans constantly during the 1950 and 1960. When Esequial was killed I was living south of the Big Bend in Mexico in a Catholic Parish. I vaguely remember the Mexican press reportings that he had been shot and the local Mexicans were again upset about how the Mexicans were being treated by Americans. I am still in Mexico , further South( Saltillo). The border and immigration issue is verycomplex. The people on the border have lived there for many years on both sides of the border and continually go back and forth. The militaration of the border is a grave mistake. And the image of the wall is a terrible sign to the people on the border, the Mexican People, and all of Latin America. I do not think that is the solution and will be a continuing problem as was the Wall of Berlin. I hope and pray that this film will give a very human element to this situation and will reach many people. Thank you again, Robert Cumberland

  • Mike Bacon

    FOREIGNID: 16603
    As a former Marine I was horrified to think that the Marine
    Corps would defend who I believe to be a murderous psychopath. I am not surprised that many people and media hosts also support him, but I expected more from the Corps. Many people believe that by supporting the troops they are supporting America. I argue that to support America one should support the Constitution. The troops are just people doing what they are told by politicians and that is a really scary truth now a day.

  • kim

    FOREIGNID: 16604
    i just got done watching the esequiel hernandez film,it was very well done,i’m glad after 10 years the truth came out.i’m saddned for the hernandez family,and outraged at our gov’mnt and the marines,who,supposedly are “professinoal”,well seems to me they are just as barbaric and murderous as the SS guards who murdered the Jews in the concentration camps,no humanness at all.This was not a foreign field or where the marines fired upon,this happened in america! The wicked callousness of the one marine who taunted saying”if it werent for us and the military,you wouldnt be breathing,blah,blah,blah”,how would HE like it if someone shot his son,wouldnt like it would you? People need to walk in someone elses mocassins before they offer wicked judgment on another.And by the way,God and God alone gives me my freedom,and my breath everyday,not the marines or the military,or the gov’mnt,God does! We’ve done wicked things in this country by turning our military people into killing machines like hitler’s SS guards,they also had no conscience,no humaness,and were heartless,our military,some of them,are no better.

  • Deb

    FOREIGNID: 16605
    The tragedy of Esequiel Hernández’s death is that the Marines were not held accountable for murdering this youngster. I think if it had happened today, after what we have learned from Iraq, maybe, the soldier who decided to “track” Esequiel would be held accountable. Those Marines involved have not fared well, ironically. The one who lied (Blood), ended up losing both of his children, although he did not have to watch them die at the hands of an eager soldier who had been in the desert too long. The Marines watched Esequiel herd his group of goats. That in itself would tell you he was not a drug dealer. The story makes me sad for the family and angry at my government because it NEVER tells the truth. Those soldiers might brag about the job they do to keep Americans safe…but the truth is, no one keeps us safe from our own government….not even those soldiers are safe from their own government. We are all victims of the garbage that goes on in Washington, DC. Our greatest defense is our voice, and too many Americans don’t care enough about what is going on to even raise a voice. We are a doomed Republic.

  • Peter Carlsen

    FOREIGNID: 16606
    Congratualations on your show about the shooting of a civilian by marines in Texas. It was frightening. You and film makers might be interested in the story that appeared yesterday in the Minneapolis Tribune about the death of a doctor on the Gun Flint Trail, run down by an oblivious border agent in an SUV who claims immunity from prosecution because she is a federal agent.

  • NoMoDope

    FOREIGNID: 16607
    The story of Esequiel Hernandez raises more questions than provide answer. The finger of blame is pointing in many directions. We must ask the question why this happened and continue asking this until the answer repeats itself which indicates the root cause. The answer is the problem of illegal drug use by our family, friends, business associates, professional athletes, politicians, etc. The demand for the drugs has created the underground industry that has developed between the United States and other countries. This root of evil (just like axis of evil !) is not easy to eliminate because of the amount of money involved. This money is easily laundered and enters our economy as new business’, jobs, construction, real estate purchases, commodities and even additional taxes collected. The War against Drugs increases the number of law enforcement jobs; more lawyers, additional judge and prosecutor positions, and the several government agencies it takes this support and administrate this infrastructure. Also, many foreign leaders and government officials benefit from the funds provided to them by our country for this “war”. So, the next time you are at a party and your friends or family members are partaking of “recreational drugs” dig up the courage to tell them that they also have the blood of Esequiel Hernandez and others on their hands. Might be quite an icebreaker!

  • Greg Lundborg

    FOREIGNID: 16608
    Our Government is to blame for putting Marines on the Boarder that resulted in the tragic death of a young man. The Marines are the LAST organization you would want in a Civilian environment. The Marines are trained to take orders and KILL to survive. NOT to make rational decisions. Not to protect Civilians. Not to think. NOT TO QUESTION the situation.
    They are not trained to realize a Young man in the Country with goats and a 22 rifle might have never seen the men in Camouflage and was just shooting to entertain him self. If your shooting at someone you usually see them or know they are there. Would you shoot at four men in Military uniforms then calmly walk off to the well where you water the goats? ??? Only People Brained-Washed in the Marines trained to Kill would pursue the person as a hostel. Then use defending my fellow shoulders as an excuse to Kill. If you want to protect your fellow Shoulders, Hold your ground call for reinforcements. Or suround the person and then One person confront him. Not …
    Where was there reason for thinking he was a Drug Dealer in the first place amongst Citizens? If he was a Drug Dealer were was the contraband? In his goats? Were where the people he was dealing drugs with?
    Marines are Trained NOT to think. They did what they where trained to do. Follow orders, Sneak up and Kill.
    The fact that the Government did not punish the young man who actually did the shooting is in it self an admission of the Governments responsibility for what was a terrible tragic mistake.
    In this country people forget, or do not want to realize when your in the Marines you are no longer a Citizen with Constitutional rights. You are Property of the Government.
    There was obviously NO priority or training on the safety of the People that the Military is suppose to protect. In the Marines there never will be.
    The National Guards is a much better chose when asking for helping with the boarder. At least there you have people who are familiar with the local environment. Not a Big City kid who has No idea of what it is like to live in the desert on the boarder. Out taking care of goats. Shooting at rocks for intertainment.

  • Susan Jones

    FOREIGNID: 16609
    Way to go POV…just like usual. Great stuff and kudos to the ‘young’ filmaker and those of tomorrow. I lived in Tucson for over 20 years, and was immersed in both the desert life and the criss-cross Hispanic/Anglo life there. We worked well together, usually had great respect for one another and life went on. Then I would go to Nogales to shop…leave my car on the US side (later). At first I would drive into Nogales and get tickets which were torn up at the policia departamente. No harm, no foul. Esequiel’s story makes me so very angry that we have BROKEN this peaceful and co-existing cultural immersion by a fence. They had one in Nogales too…but it had more holes and places opened than it had stretches of wire intact. I could only smile. I eventually taught ESL to mostly HIspanic children in Tucson and in Las Vegas schools. I was called “their little Mexican” by the people I worked with…as I was so totally open to a city created and formed in THEIR original country….not ours. But it was open to both of us, if we would just trust in one another. The Marines and other services do teach killing, enemies, killing, and more enemies. Why they were there at that centuries old river crossing….who knows? Mules with drugs do NOT cross at places where there are people living and word spreads fast if military are there, as if those giant blimps that were several millions of dollars in failure weren’t the laughing stock of the military. I am ashamed that although we thought it was so “cute” that Reagan still plays over and over again during campaigns, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” and though it was through no action of his…that the wall was taken down, now
    what hypocrites we are. If we have no Mexican people in the SW, legal or illegal….the economy would tank in one day. We need them. Just look at the fields of California where workers are now at a premium! So, rather than bother the peaceful neighbors on either side of a river…..go after the dealers, mules, and coyotes where they live or distribute. It will be in remote places and they may kill you. We’ve lived with this “agreement” for hundreds of years in the Sonoran and Mohave deserts. It was fine and peaceful. The military coming there made both the Americans and Hispanics who worked in America, plus the legal American-Hispanics start to distrust one another. When local law enforcement, the border patrol, and rancho and other business owners tell you to stay out of their business, you don’t bring in more troops. None of the 9/11 illegals came across the Mexican border. This mentality has to end. We have Mexicans in our society and they pay taxes and work very hard to send money back home. They can enter the military and get killed…but they must be deported if found working in America. Why fix something that was never broken?? My heart goes out to the Hispanic population….which, “did we forget”…..were here and owned this land way before we even thought about “buying or winning it”. Our neighbors to the South welcome us to their country and we do the same. Many Hispanic families roots in America go many generations back further than those of the Anglos, etc. I think we have a place for troops to do constructive and not destructive work, and it is in New Orleans, our highways, our bridges, and our infrastructure. We’re wasting away on some presumed high-mindedness (thank you, Lou Dobbs), when we just need to resume things “the way they were and have always been”. To Anglos in opposition, don’t worry. You won’t turn brown and have a Hispanic surname….but you might have to learn a little Spanglish. My oh my….what a burden!!
    edited by moderator for language

  • Jack Queen

    FOREIGNID: 16610
    Dear PBS: War always emphasizes the “courageous acts”, embellishes them, and hands out bits of ribbon and cheaply die cast plated medals in flimsy cardboard display boxes for these acts. Napoleon said, ” it is amazing what men will do for a few pieces or ribbon”.
    War has been described as unleashing dogs. Vicious mad dogs. The GIs were even called dog faces in WW2. The marine mascot is a dog.
    And dogs they were hunting down a kid with a 22 taking pot shots. Dogs in a pack ganging up on a helpless rabbit. These marines will live with this act. It will live and grow in their thoughts and souls as they mature and age as your documentary brought out: especially as they have families.
    We veterans were fools to relinquish our intelligence to blind authority. This documentary is a quintessential example of what happens to young men with a mix of bravado, the skill to kill, and high levels of testosterone. It is not merely repeating at a rifle fire team level, as your film depicted, but at the brigade and at the army level in the present theaters of operations in the Middle East.
    Jack Queen, Platoon leader, 1st Platoon, 1/27 Infantry, Wolfhounds, 25th Infantry Division, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-1968.

  • Terry

    FOREIGNID: 16611
    I happened to catch the PBS airing of “The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez.” While I found it overall well done and a story that needed to told, its lack of context was a bit of a disappointment. I was surprised that the larger picture of this tragic story was not covered. I can speak as somewhat of an authority in this unfortunate situation because I was in Marfa, TX in late May, 1997, the time of this event.
    While I had only read the newspaper story of what happened to young Esequiel, I talked to a few of the local people the morning after while I was eating my breakfast. What one of the locals told me was that this “boy,” as he put it, was on his father’s land tending the livestock.
    As the news of the tragedy spread through Marfa, this normally sleepy rural community had already been overrun by police and military. For those who do not remember or never heard, there was a bigger story had just taken place during that time, known in Texas and New Mexico as “The Republic of Texas standoff”. The police and military, with their guns and their check points, put the local population on edge.
    The shooting of Esequiel Hernandez Jr. was just a catalyst to heat up the resentment held by the local populous for what looked and felt like martial law if not a complete military takeover. This overarching problem was the background for the story and was an essential part that should have been at least mentioned in the broadcast. The tension in the area was already unusually high, the local population felt pushed around and besieged by the government.
    My memory of what I am telling you is quite clearly after 11 years. One thought in particular has always haunted me over the years. Whatever the reason for the Marines’ presence, I am left to wonder why didn’t the military brass in charge of the Marines should of change the mission parameters or even abort the mission. This should have happened the moment all Media, Military and police descended upon the same operational area as the Marines. It seems to me that with all the guns that were in place during that strange time, the likelihood of friendly fire and danger to the Marines was great enough to pursue mitigation of those risks.
    The only thing that I can now hope is that this tragedy will be used to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. This can only happen if people understand that an isolated, quiet shepherd was shot and killed by a government sniper during a grand show of police and military force in an unassuming, peaceful community.

  • Will M

    FOREIGNID: 16612
    I lived in Redford Texas and know the community. While out on a run one day I was surprised by a large rattlesnake. In the evenings I regularly heard the coyotes. There are threats to livestock in the Chihuahuan desert and carrying a 22 was common in this community. Sadly, I think the Marines were not trainied about border communities and customs…they should have been.
    I used to shoot my 22 in the woods behind my house when I was a kid in Indiana. My father was a WW2 fighter pilot and fought in the Pacific, my brother-in-law fought in Viet Nam, I understand military sacrifice to the degree that I can.
    The people in that border region are patriotic, loving, hard working and proud. I knew many residents there, I am a better person for having known them.

  • Mercy

    FOREIGNID: 16613
    I love PBS and I am so grateful that they shared this story. I had never heard of Esequiel Hernandez until I saw this documentary and I was absolutely floored with the series of events that happened that resulted in the loss of an innocent young man’s life. As the documentary told it, many people in Texas, particularly in rural parts, own guns. Esequiel took an old rifle with him to scare away any wild dogs that might have attacked his goats which he hoped to continue raising and breeding to start a goat milk and cheese business. Marines in full camo were hiding at a great distance when they noticed Esequiel herding his goats. Esequiel fired a shot in their general direction, perhaps noticing movement and thinking it was a wild dog but as it would have been impossible for him to see the marines due to the distance and because he didn’t take cover or run afterwards, I doubt he was shooting at a group of heavily armed marines. Regardless, I might be swayed to understand if the marines had fired back immediately, but they didn’t. Instead they followed him and shot him when his back was turned. They never told him to drop his weapon or gave warning of any kind. The marine claims he thought Esequiel was ABOUT to fire again. I don’t think this was a cold blooded killing, but an immature, paranoid one based on long hours in the desert heat, military brainwashing, and youth. The commanders on the marine radio really aggravated this situation with their incompetence – but ultimately the marine’s never should have been there – and they (or their commanders) certainly should have been charged. If the southern border of the US has to be so obsessively controlled as to prevent any more Mexican people from crossing (because let’s face it, border control isn’t about keeping out terrorists or fighting drugs, it’s about feeding the growing American xenophobia) then why not deter the practice with patrols that people can see – a visual deterrent? For example, if police really wanted to make people drive the speed limit, they’d put their cars out in plain sight. If they want to write up some more tickets, they wait in the shadows and catch people speeding. The fanaticism of guarding our southern borders boils down to racism and paranoia. Our Canadian borders aren’t crawling with marines. Known drug areas in big cities don’t have this happening. Our airports and seaports aren’t patrolled by military either. Mexican people coming into the country and becoming citizens aren’t taking away jobs – companies moving to china and being given tax breaks by our current government for doing so are. I don’t think most American people realize how difficult some countries make it to immigrate. Besides, Esequiel WAS an American citizen!!! We need to stop the madness and embrace our differences already!

  • Andrei

    FOREIGNID: 16614
    Important topic, but I thought the documentary itself was pretty flat and lacked momentum.

  • http://thecommentarybyamoros.blogspot.com/ J. Amoros

    FOREIGNID: 16615
    Who was President of the US in 1997? How long was President Bush out of office? It is sad that an otherwise instructive documentary that I was planning to use as a way of looking at a situation from different points of view, turned in the end to be sophomoric effort and a cheap shot at the “eeeevil” Bush family.

  • marie

    FOREIGNID: 16616
    WE just saw this tonight 9-22-08 and what a shame and what a horrible thing to happen to this young man. It was wrong that the marine who actually did the shooting got away with this. This was very enlightening to me and informative. But what about shell casings and evidence that Esequiel Hernandez even shot his gun? this was a cover up and shame on the military for doing this.

  • bobby wilkinson

    FOREIGNID: 16617
    If you watch ” The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” starring Tommy Lee Jones, its obvious the idea for the movie originated from this tragedy. I need to do some more looking but I think some of esequiel’s family are in the movie. Thank You PBS for POV. Thank you Tommy Lee, for caring about people and for knowing how to make a loud protest with very few words. And thank you for caring about Texas and I mean all of Texas. We love you.

  • Debra

    FOREIGNID: 16618
    I awoke on September 30,2008 listening to an older sad Mexican gentlemen talking about his deceased son, Esequiel Hernandez. The more I heard about what happened the more it saddened me to know what the circumstances were surrounding his son’s death. I am an American citizen however, that morning I felt shame because we had killed one of our own, in our own backyard and in a territory that was not at war. Why was this young man shot, I still don’t comprehend. Don’t get me wrong, I respect and honor the military, my own favorite late Uncle was a Marine, handsome in his uniform and proud. I have two cousins serving in Iraq as I write and my own son-in-law is in the military stationed in the States, but the Hernandez family was a very humble and loving family who had their son taken away by soldiers and to this date have had no justice. What nation kills their own and turns their heads as if not wanting to face the truth. I listened to government heads speak and give their explanation, but it was all a cover up. Why? Where is the justice for this young man? for his family? It makes no sense. Yes, I listened and felt sad for the Hernandez family, but also for us as a nation, who could cover up a situation that had it gone and convicted these young soldiers would have changed alot in our government and military regiment. I am affected by this story of a young Mexican-American who was gunned down in cold blood and his death was looked at with little or no regard. When did we start killing our own, in our own land and no one was held accountable, I thought we had a justice system in place for that? My heart is heavy for such a thing that happened on our dirt, our land and it will stay with me forever. I can only hope God will have mercy on those who turned their ears and eyes away from the truth of what really happened that fateful day. May God have mercy on us all and may God bless America.

  • Jesus (Jesse) Tovar, Jr.

    FOREIGNID: 16619
    What a tragic story? As a first generation American of Mexican descent, my heart goes out to our brothers and sisters involved. I thank Keith for telling this story and PBS for airing. It was with fondness that I remembered my own childhood growing up in the rich Mexican-American culture of a small south Texas town. Yes we lived under the poverty level but we always had food, shelter and love. Mr. Esequiel Hernandez (Sr) reminds me of the wonderful men in my life – my father, grandfather, uncles, teachers and friends – who taught me to respect and love others. As a father myself, I can only imagine the pain of losing a son not only to death but to prison – not just a physical prison but that of remorse and addictions.
    I hope the Hernandez family who live without their loved one may again rejoice at seeing the charismatic Esequiel (Jr) again someday. Keep the Faith. My prayers are with the marines and their superiors who may live with their own pain(s). Our God hates the sin but loves the sinner. I am grateful to them and all our service men and women for giving of themselves so that we can all “breath” with freedom and hope for a better tomorrow.
    Let us learn from this tragedy and let us work for peace and a world where we love one another.
    To all involved, I wish you Peace. May God Bless America!

  • TCI

    FOREIGNID: 16620
    For those that ask “why was this young man killed?” The answer is that the young, and I mean young Marines were put in a situation where maturity should take part in a decision. “I capped the Motherf@@$&r.”????
    Come on, even seasoned veteran of law enforcement could have made a better statement than that in a situation like this.
    He shot at a “bush” (gilley suit) that he thought was a coyote or wild dog to protect his goats. He didn’t know or have prior knowledge that Marines were taking part in operations there. I would go around and shots things too on my dads land and if someone was hiding out on his land, they wouldv’e got shot at too. The public on both sides of the border should have known of what was going on. The knowledge alone might’ve stopped smugglers from using that portion of the river. Either way, mission would’ve been accomplished.
    Sad that in a few short months, those four Marines would’ve called young Esequiel Jr. “brother.”
    Sometimes people that don’t grow up near the border don’t understand the way of life in that area, and vice versa. It’s almost like living in another country even though we don’t. The same way I don’t understand the New York City way of life, or the Hawaiian way of life, or the Alaskan way of life, I wouldn’t expect people in those areas to understand a Texan way of life.
    They had never seen Marines performing secret operations and the Marines had probably never seen a young countryboy herding goats and being a kid. Sad.
    Border Patrol shoud be provided with the resources to do the job, even if it is at the level of a special operations agent of border patrol. Training for that situation is very specific and should be left to those that are subject matter experts.
    This is coming from a young, military country-boy from Texas, first generation American of Mexican descent; just like Esequiel would’ve been.

  • Andrea

    FOREIGNID: 16621
    My daughter was born when we lived in Redford, the only Anglo family in town. I remember feeling so safe there, and would walk my tiny child to sleep every night, up and down the river road, until that Spring of 1997. How easily could I, a young mother, have stumbled on a stone and been shot? Esequiel was, indeed, a sweet young man . . . kind and helpful. Sad that his life ended the way it did. Sad that the actions of those foolish, self-centered boys and the “leaders” who deployed them, destroyed a life and the trust and peace of so many.

  • steven

    FOREIGNID: 16622
    You may use HTML tags for style and links. I arrived in the area with a group of boaters (the Austin Pladding Club) two weeks after this sad event happened. Our put-in was only a few miles from Redford, Tx. We knew nothing of what had just transpired. We were just coming out to paddle the Rio Bravo in the Big Bend of Texas. I foretold several people at the time what would be the final outcome, as there were so many potential outcomes as a result of what happen. Guessing that the family would be paid off at some point “for their loss”, the marine team would leave Texas quickly and evade being held accountable for THEIR actions. But most importantly the whole chain of command would do that as well. It’s what they do best. The legal rules for law inforcement are to protect all parties, the guilty and the innocent. Which if I remember right we are ALL presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. Sending in the marines to this area to preform law inforcement duties was then as now, not only ill-advised, but crimminal. To call this an accident is really a crime as well. Finger pointing at Esequiel or his community and how they live playes just fine to those who put those young marines there to begin with. As a 50 year old fifth generation Texan living on the border for several years now I know we can do better, I owe a serious effort to that end and to the memory of all the Esequiel’s in our land. Truth and justice did not happen for him yet it should always be our goal in America, not shouting matches or politics as usual. Look how well that’s worked for us ? It’s not ever to late to be the change you want to see in this world. Read and listen and then act! “The river has never divided us” is a good starting point, ” Government ” by B. Traven and so on. Our problems are not just political, that is why politicians haven’t clue how to solve them.

  • Patricia Moncada

    FOREIGNID: 30432
    It is 2010 and another military deployment on the Arizona Mexican border. John McCain used scare tactics of a rancher being killed as a reason. Although there is no proof that the rancher was killed by immigrants. Republicans are lying at a higher instance to make immigrants the scapegoats of all the problems in the state. They have picked on Mexican immigrants, the most vulnerable population. Exactly what do immigrants have? Governor Brewer lying about beheadings in the desert. A Pinal county sherrif shooting himself and saying drug smugglers did at a timely time to raise racist consciousness. Agriculture job with no takers because no citizens will work that hard as hungry immigrants are willing to do. The mass exodus of Mexican immigrants leaving the state.
    Military on the border is not going to stop immigrants we need a immigration law that will allow immigrants to work fairly and safely.
    President Obama can only do so much and Republicans are blocking all of his efforts. Racist republicans are retaliating the fact a Black man is running the country.
    Banuelos is a “vendido” of Mexican heritage who is assimilated into thinking he is an American military above the law. However, her cannot escape the law of karma. He obviously does not have a conscience or any remorse, along with his other marine buddy who defends him so smug.
    Americans and their love of guns of high caliber are going to be the downfall of our country. The proponets of guns say it is not the guns but people who kill. I say to them it is the mentality behind their racism that kills.
    Things are going to get much worse before they get better. There will be many innocent people die before it is over.
    Thank you for showing this point of view, I had heard of Esiquiels death but had no idea what had really happened. This POV clearly shows another injustice managed by republicans.

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