Culture

This Author Is Writing Children’s Books For Central American Kids Explaining Deportations

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Randy Jurado Ertll has been writing novels and children’s books for well over a decade, all with the mission to inspire his fellow Central Americans about the possibilities that abound for them in the U.S., and in the fields of public service and politics.

The author of multiple books and novels, including children’s illustrated book, “The Adventures of El Cipitio,” Randy Jurado Ertll has used literature as a means to help others stay woke.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“It’s important for us to be seen and heard through books that are bilingual. My goal is to make my literature accepted and to be recognized and valued because we haven’t been valued as a whole, a community,” Jurado Ertll says in an exclusive interview with mitú.  

Born in Los Angeles to a Salvadoran mother in the 1970s, Jurado Ertll is a product of what can be accomplished with absolute grit and determination, despite being part of a group that has been on the margins of society—the children of deported immigrants.

When he was just eight months old, his mother was deported back to El Salvador and Jurado Ertll went to live with her until the age of five.

“People think it only happens under Trump, but it’s been happening forever but people forget,” Jurado Ertll says about deportations.

After his mom’s deportation, he tried making the most of living in a foreign land and soaked up as much as he could about the culture.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“That helped me and gave me an opportunity to learn first—hand the history and culture [of El Salvador]. It shaped my world view,” Jurado Ertll says.

Once he returned home for elementary school, he had to completely relearn the English language and says it was “kind of like a rebirth experience.”

He grew up in South Central Los Angeles during a time when there were few Latinos in his neighborhood. He was a student of the Los Angeles Unified School District until he was accepted into a program to study at a high school in Minnesota.

After high school, he returned to California to study at Occidental College and obtained his master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University. He then went on to be a communications director in Washington, D.C. for a congressional member and also wrote numerous opinion columns for newspapers across the country including the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Jurado Ertll published his first book in 2009.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

His titles include “Hope in Times of Darkness” about his experience as a Salvadoran American, and a novel with surreal elements about a three-foot mythical creature titled “The Lives and Times of El Cipitio.”

“The Lives and Times of El Cipitio” is a surreal novel, I wanted to use lots of symbolism,” Jurado Ertll says. “I wanted to create an anti-hero that is evil but becomes good, a gangster that runs for mayor of LA then president, and the novel talks about how he evolves.”

When demand for his books increased, Jurado Ertll knew it was time to start bilingual books to inspire readers.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

He then created “The Adventures of El Cipitio.”

“The Adventures of El Cipitio” is more of a feel-good, illustrated book.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

“Kids need to feel good and proud, and see themselves in words and illustrations they can see themselves in,” he says.

Although Jurado Ertll has written several books to put the stories of more Central Americans like him to diversify bookshelves and tell the stories of all types of Latinos, one story he hasn’t quite written about in depth is his own deportation story.

“[The] story hasn’t been explored or told as much because it’s traumatizing—it distorts your sense of safety and belonging, and you can make it positive or negative,” Jurado Ertll says.

“It made me into a resilient person. There are other kids who have suffered more than I have. I wanted to empower people. If you born here, you can come back [after being deported.] Lots of people do that, but their stories are not told,” he continues.

Jurado Ertll has certainly chosen to take his experiences and make it a positive one.

Credit: randyertll / Instagram

Jurtado Ertll’s books are sold in Costco and Amazon, and he also continues to present his books at book fairs and events across the country.

READ: Elizabeth Acevedo Has Been Awarded The Carnegie Medal — The First Time A Writer Of Color Has Won In The Award’s History

Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

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Evelyn Hernandez Is Facing A Third Trial And Angered Protesters Used A New Way To Show Their Frustration

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There are rising tensions in El Salvador as activists are protesting the attorney general’s decision to seek a third trial for a woman accused of killing her stillborn son. The woman, Evelyn Hernandez, was exonerated in an August retrial after an earlier judgment found her guilty of killing her stillborn son and sentenced her to 30 years behind bars. Hernandez, 21, was found innocent after the judge said there was not enough evidence to convict her of the crime. 

The issue of abortion has always been a widely-debated and divisive topic in conservative El Salvador where abortion is illegal. Many women in the country have been prosecuted for attempting abortions even in dire medical situations. Activists look at Hernandez’s case as an example of an unjust system targeting her due to her limited financial status. 

 “We do not want Evelyn to be viewed as a criminal and persecuted,” Claribel Ayala, a protester outside the attorney general’s office in El Salvador told Reuters. “We’re going to stand with her until justice is done.”

While activists see Hernandez’s case as a trial against women rights, prosecutors are looking at her as a criminal.

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Activists dressed in clown attire took to the streets of El Salvador this week to voice their disapproval of the news that attorney general Raul Melara would be seeking a third trial in Hernandez’s case. Many of them threw confetti-filled eggs at his office and even painted his door red with paint. Melara acknowledges their anger but sees the case with a different lens.  

“There are groups that have a big interest in seeing this as persecution against poverty, that this woman is being targeted because she had an emergency outside the hospital, but the proof is overwhelming and shows this isn’t the case,” Melara told reporters.

Hernandez’s release from prison was viewed as a victory for women rights. 

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Hernandez said she was raped by a gang member and was unaware of her pregnancy until just before delivering a stillborn son back in 2016. She was found on her bathroom floor covered with blood and would be taken to an emergency room by her mother and a neighbor. When doctors examined her they noted that there were visible signs of delivery but found no baby. They reported Hernandez to local authorities and would later find her newborn dead inside of a septic tank.

She’s been convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the alleged killing of her child. Prosecutors said that she had purposely induced abortion only to leave the newborn to die. Hernandez wound up only serving 33 months out of her original 30-year sentence before being released in February. 

This was due to an appeal before the Supreme Court who said that Hernandez should be released due the original conviction being based on prejudice and insufficient evidence. The acquittal was looked at as a huge victory for women’s rights not only in El Salvador but globally. 

“It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent,” Hernandez said the day she was released. “There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.”

Hernandez has maintained her innocence from the start that she had no knowledge of being pregnant. Now prosecutors are looking at a third trial to convict her of killing her newborn child. 

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The attorney general is seeking to convict Hernandez of murder even after being released from prison. While many see Hernandez as the true victim in this ordeal, prosecutors see things differently.  

“As Attorney General of the Republic, we are responsible for the support and accompaniment of women victims in any crime and in any of its modalities, but, in the case of Evelyn Hernández, there are no elements to consider her a victim of any fact, on the contrary, the only victim is her son,” prosecutors said in a statement . “This appeal is the manifestation of the legal protection of … the life of a helpless being who depended absolutely on the care of his mother, who caused his death.”

Hernandez’s legal team is fighting back against these claims saying that the attempt at a retrial is a waste of resources that could be used to serve more important issues. 

“We expected this persecution against Evelyn to stop,” one of her lawyers, Elizabeth Deras, told BuzzFeed News. “Instead, they are spending the state’s resources unnecessarily. Resources that could be used to fight corruption.”

As of now, the request for a new trial must be assessed by a different court before it can proceed legally. The prosecution is looking to sentence Hernandez to 40 years in prison.  

READ: These Are Our Favorite Fast Foods You Can Get In Latin America But Not In The US, Dos Por Favor!

Prosecutors Are Preparing To Take Evelyn Hernandez To Court For The Third Time Because Of A Miscarriage

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Prosecutors Are Preparing To Take Evelyn Hernandez To Court For The Third Time Because Of A Miscarriage

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Evelyn Beatríz Hernández is just 21 years old and seems to be proving that El Salvador will jail women for simply being women. In 2016, Hernández was raped by a gang member and was afraid to tell anyone about it after he made death threats against her and her family for speaking out. Months later, she fainted while using the bathroom, unknowingly having miscarried during the process. One year later, El Salvador charged her for murdering her newborn child and sentenced her to 30 years in prison for aggravated homicide. After public outcry, the Supreme Court annulled the conviction and freed her after spending nearly 3 years in prison, citing lack of evidence.

It ordered a retrial with a new judge. That judge acquitted her in August. But prosecutors won’t rest until they see Hernández go to prison. Federal prosecutors are appealing the judge’s ruling, which means Hernández may have to endure another court trial.

Evelyn Hernández was just 18 years old at the time of her rape and miscarriage.

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She was still a student in high school when she was raped in 2016. She had no idea she was pregnant when she went to her rural home’s outhouse with stomach pains and bleeding. That’s when she fainted. Her mom found her on the outhouse floor, drenched in blood and took her to the hospital. Doctors found signs that she had delivered a baby, but not even an awareness of a baby.

El Salvador has an absolute ban on abortion which has led to the harsh criminalization of women and their bodies. 

Credit: @allianceforchoice / Twitter

Doctors are required to call authorities. Hours later, local officials found a newborn dead in the family’s septic tank. Hernández was immediately accused and charged with inducing abortion and aggravated homicide. El Salvador imposed a total ban on abortions in 1998, no matter if the woman is raped, or if the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life. 

Hernández was found guilty by a female judge, who sentenced her for 30 years on a murder conviction.

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The three years that follow her initial traumatic rape have been a nightmare for the young woman. In July 2017, a female judge ruled that Hernández had induced abortion. Thankfully, civil rights activists around the world called on El Salvador to reexamine the case. Her lawyers cited forensic tests that showed the baby more likely died of natural causes and was stillborn, prompting a re-trial. The Supreme Court annulled the original conviction on September 26, 2018, and ordered a re-trial.

Six months later, she walked out of Ilopango Women’s Prison, met by a cheering crowd of mujeres carrying “Justice for Evelyn” banners.

Credit: @ErikaGuevaraR / Twitter

“I thank all of you who have supported me and thank everyone from around the world who has shown support,” Evelyn told the press and her supporters. “It was tough to be locked up, especially when I was innocent. There are others who are still locked up and I hope they are freed soon.” 

Last month, she faced what many people thought would be her last trial, during which prosecutors blamed her for the miscarriage.

Credit: @ActualidadRT / Twitter

The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights reported that the federal prosecutor argued that she was “liable for aggravated homicide by omission: in other words, that Ms. Hernandez had failed to fulfill the duty of care that she owed her child.” Hernández allegedly had “knowingly neglected to seek appropriate prenatal services during her pregnancy.”

Still, on August 19, 21-year-old Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz was acquitted after a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict her of the alleged crime she had been accused of years prior.  She stood on the steps of the courthouse after her acquittal and told the world, “Thank God, justice had been done. My future is to continue studying and to move forward with my goals. I am happy.”

El Salvador continues to prosecute Hernández because that’s what El Salvador does to women.

Credit: @AbortoPORlaVIDA / Twitter

According to Buzzfeed News, Hernández is just one of the dozens of women who are serving prison time for murder charges of their infants. If women are even suspected of abortion, they can be prosecuted as criminals in El Salvador. Even seeking the procedure itself, without actually benefitting from it, is tantamount to the crime in El Salvador. It is one of 16 countries in the world with such strict regulations on women’s bodies, including  Egypt, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, among others.

Human rights activists are disturbed by the level of resources the Salvadoran government is spending on convicting women. Hernández has been found innocent twice, now, and may be looking at another trial.

READ: A Salvadoran Rape Victim Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Having A Stillbirth Has Been Acquitted